Skip to content


WOOSTER–I pulled up at the Woodland house and my mother was running the lawn-mower up the stupid slope on the front that ought to be just plants on a very hot and humid Midwestern day. I parked and took the lawnmower away from her and finished the mowing. I needed a few things at WalMart and she suggested we go together and she drove because she likes to be in control and is scared of my driving on principal even if I’ve never had so much as a couple parking tickets. It was one of those Wally-world adventures: a soap dish, a memory card, a box of Rice Crispies, some swimming goggles and two avacados that requires an inordinate amount of walking. Near the end we re-met and she began flagging and said she wasn’t feeling well and would I mind pushing the cart. We checked out and she said she was feeling sick.I asked if I should drive and she said no but a few minutes later she pulled over and I drove us home asking if maybe we shouldn’t go to the Emergency Room.

We got home and she went and took a bath and it got worse from there. She came down and lay in the entry way and began vomiting and, as she said later, “There is nothing worse than throwing up on yourself with no warning and not caring.”

My father went and got our next-door neighbor, Barbara, a Nurse Practitioner who had recently lost her husband. That same morning he had asked, “Have you met Barbara?” I shook her hand as she came in to see my mother on the floor.

I have never seen her sick before. Never seen her unable to handle the pain. This being my mother who births easily and refuses Novacaine at the dentist. And although I have come back and seen her older I had never seen her in pain and I let the nurse do her work and put her towels on her head and when it was finally not working I got my car up to the front and we walked her out and got her to the ER.

They got her in fast enough and under Barbara’s medical insiderness got the IV in and the morphine onboard and they took blood and took her for a CT scan but then we sat there in the darkened room for four hours until the results came back.

I will always remember my mother’s smile when she came back from the scan when the pain had been stopped by the morphine and she could get by the pain and see her worried husband and displaced son and widowed neighbor waiting.

We waited and bandied about diagnosis and I got to know my parent’s neighbor the widowed nurse and listened to my mother’s breathing. And finally the doctor came back and it was a 2mm kidney stone. They wrote prescriptions and I pulled my car up and put my mother in back and drove carefully home. And I was afraid to go to sleep and not listen to her breathing. But the next day I had to make her stay in bed even though she thought she passed the thing and when I left to take care of some business I came back and her Saab was gone.

One Comment