My Turn at Exasperation
Humor by Tom McLaughlin
"What do you mean he's not there?" I said in alarm to the elder abuse police. "He was there 15 minutes ago."
Let me explain. Since my mother died last December, I have been taking care of my dementia father. Everyone agreed that Dad was going to die first because he was nine years my mothers' senior, but God had other plans.
At 90, he had taken a fall and injured his ribs. However, he has very high pain tolerance, unlike me who howls at every minor cut or abrasion demanding morphine to end the searing unbearable pain of a paper cut.
Dads' tolerance, no doubt, comes from his Air Force service where he survived three airplane crashes and out ran the Nazi's across what was then Yugoslavia with the help of the resistance. He also served in three wars, the big one, Korea and Vietnam. I am very proud of him and I know our nation is too.
I had noticed Dad was moaning a bit and I asked him if anything was wrong. He kept saying no. Finally, on the third day I told him he was going to the hospital either in my car or via the paramedics. He finally said okay. Those of you who have had switch roles know what I mean.
We got there, no complaints from Dad, and we waited to see a Doctor. X-Rays. Broken ribs. I honestly didn't and still don't know how it happened.
I returned home and unannounced in came the elder abuse police where the conversation at the beginning of this piece began.
"He was in the hospital 15 minutes ago because I just left," I blurted as if this woman had completely lost her mind. I was still wearing the stick on "visitor badge;" and I showed it to her.
"Well, he is not there now because I just called," she insisted. I had visions of Dad vaporizing or being beamed to distant planet like in the old Star Trek series.
"Do you want to see his room," I inquired.
"Yes," she answered as she looked around the place as if I had him stuffed under the bed or in a closet.
"Do you want to see the rest of the house," I asked.
Again with the "Yes," she said politely; but I think she still felt I had him stashed some place. Finding him not at home, she called the hospital again and they administratively had located where he had been for the past three days.
I was really wary now. I asked her if she wanted a glass of ice tea and she accepted.
We talked a bit and she recommended a lady in Snow Hill (county seat). I told her I had met her in the hospital.
"No, that was impossible," she said.
"But I just talked to her," I said.
"Couldn't she have been in meetings all morning," she replied.
I fished through my pockets and produced her white card. "Then who gave me this, I asked, thinking someone has carried identity theft a bit too far.
She looked at me and by now I was convinced that it wasn't Dad who should be in the hospital but her, and a mental one at that.
Another series of phone calls.
Oh, someone else is giving out her cards," she said as if was normal that people exchange cards and pretend to be that person.
"Why would someone pass out her cards and act like it was her," I asked. She didn't know. I felt it wise not to ask further.
To be continued...