birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Almost Lost Her

I got out of bed at 7:30 and went to check on her. She slept so soundly I didn‘t want to wake her, but I needed to make sure she was alright.

“Mom, I‘m going to the airport to pick up Kathleen.“ Her eyes popped open and she began to sit up.

“You don‘t need to go, I just wanted you to know I won‘t be here for about an hour. Scott is here. Call him if you need him. Or call me on the phone. You should sleep.“
I checked her forehead to make sure she didn‘t have a fever; all seemed normal.

I picked up my sister and her daughter and husband and explained what had happened in the car.

“Did she hurt anything?“ Kathleen asked. “No, she said she kind of slid to the ground and made a soft landing. She just couldn‘t get up. She slept on the floor for 3 hours. She says she called out once, but I didn‘t hear her and she didn‘t want to bother“ I started to cry, then quickly stopped. I needed to drive.

“We need to convince her to go to the hospital to get checked out.“
“Yeah. Right.“ Kathleen said.
We both stared straight ahead, knowing that a monumental task lay before us.

We begged for 2 hours. We called other siblings to help convince her. Finally, weary of our pleading voices, she threw the covers aside and reached for her clothes. A major victory.

We went to the closest hospital. After 3 hours in a not-very-busy waiting room, Kathleen yelled at the staff, saying that my mother was 86 and their chairs were damn uncomfortable, and soon mom‘s name was called. I went back with her.

We stopped to collect a urine sample. She handed me the cup and I saw urine the color of Dr. Pepper. I didn‘t see a cabinet so I brought it with me and handed it to an assistant who came into the curtained-off room where my mother was asked to lie down.
The assistant put the urine on the counter. It sat there for the next few hours. I kept asking, “Shouldn‘t this be tested? Should it be sitting on the counter like this?“ No one seemed to care.

Hours passed. My sister went back to the hotel to have dinner with her family and Scott decided to walk over to the strip and back to the condo. I turned the TV on when it was time for Wheel of Fortune. Mom‘s eyes stayed glued to the screen. She watched, hypnotized by the sights and sounds of American winning, and a nurse came in to take blood just as Jeopardy began.

He had a hard time finding a vein. He poked a few times and she winced and cried out a little in pain, but she kept her eyes on Alex Trebek, adjusting to look above the head of the nurse, wishing, I knew, he‘d get out of the way of the screen. This was her sacred TV hour. The nurse decided to get a phlebotomist and left.

More hours went by. The phlebotomist came in, fully confident and fully skilled, and she quickly got a sample. Another hour after that, a doctor came and told me they were going to admit her. He wasn‘t exactly sure what was going on; they‘d have to run more tests. Some kind of infection.

I went up to the room with her. We‘d been there for 12 hours and I hadn‘t eaten all day. Once she was situated, the staff urged me to go back to the condo. She was getting medicine to help her sleep, they said, and I should sleep, too.

I hated to leave her, but I knew I needed sleep. I called at 3 am to see how she was. Fine, I was told. I got up at 5:30, stopped for coffee on the way back. I knew hospital coffee wouldn‘t do it for her and went up to her room.

She was sleeping, but I saw her nose wriggle. She made a delirious comment about starting the coffee pot. “Make enough for everybody,“ she said.

“It‘s okay, I‘ll warm this in the microwave later,“ I said. “You should sleep.“

She opened her eyes wide, looked scared, and grabbed me by the hand. “Margaret,“ she said, in the voice of a fortune teller, “there are quarters in my bag. Lots of quarters. Go play the slots. You shouldn‘t be here. It‘s your vacation.“

“Nice try. I‘m not leaving you. We‘ll both go play the slots when you get out of here.“


Almost Rich And Famous