Sunday, August 10, 2008

Getting The Call

Maybe you've never gotten the call. Maybe you've gotten the call a number of times for different people. Maybe you've gotten it more than once for one person. Maybe you've gotten the call once and you hope to hell you never get it again.

I've gotten that call more than once. I wouldn't say a lot but really, in cases like this, isn't more than once more than enough? Sometimes it's not clear that it's the call. Sometimes it's all too clear, words like "now" and "hurry" and "we're sure" get sprinkled into even the shortest conversation.

It's not the sort of situation where the "crying wolf" story applies. I suppose it can. I suppose if someone gives you the call for a hangnail or a broken leg or a bad hair day then it they could be accused of crying wolf. I've been lucky, though, the people that call me have a feel for when it's the real deal and when it isn't.

When I was 17 the family called everyone in for my great grandmother. It was the most time I've ever had for such a thing. Grammy had a stroke in February and died in April, one month shy of her 101st birthday. For the month of February we trickled in to see her, usually in mixed up family groups which served to confuse her already scrambled brain. My cousins wound up there with my mother and I went up alone a week later. It was the first long car trip I ever took by myself. I got stopped behind a huge car accident, I had car trouble and had to get roadside assistance for the first time and when I showed up at my grandparents house there was nobody there. But they'd left me a note, a key and a lobster roll so I was all taken care of.

In May of 2001 I got the call for Biddy and I headed home as fast as I could get there but I didn't make it. By the time I arrived people were saying that there was no way I could have made it in time but I don't know that that had been clear at the time I got into my car. I didn't have a cell phone so it wasn't as if anyone could turn me back halfway, either. I was glad to be there with everyone anyway.

Auntie Blanche is still alive, such as it is. By Friday morning the people who had seen her Thursday night said she'd done a 180 degree turn for the better. Still, when ChemE saw her later that morning she called me and said, "It's good you're coming." I got there at 8:30pm and sat with her a bit while she slept. She was breathing relatively easily but so fast asleep that she didn't even wake when they took her vitals. On Saturday I spent the majority of the day with her. She was awake, she recognized some of us, she was happy to see Emily and give her a treat. She's not well, though, and I don't know that she ever will be again.

This is a woman who was walking over half a mile a day and teaching piano lessons in March. My anger at the turn of events and the actions of many of the people in charge knows no bounds. Yet, there's no place for it now because as angry as I am I am so much sadder.

I get uncomfortable thinking that people will think that I've cried wolf when, on Friday, I said that my grandmother was dying. I have to put that out of my judgment criteria, though, because that's their deal. Perhaps they haven't ever gotten the call or perhaps gotten it and never responded to it.

It's good that I went.


  1. Anonymous1:19 AM

    I would hope that no one would be stupid enough to even entertain the thought that you were crying wolf. You responded to the information you were given and thankfully things improved.

    Although I'm sorry you had to go through all those emotions and the stress, I'm glad you had an opportunity to see her and that her condition improved.

  2. There is no crying wolf in this situation (well, yeah, maybe for the hangnail...), only a phew! it wasn't as horrible as we thought, but visiting the people we love when we're worried about them is always a good idea anyway.

    I'm glad you got to visit; I am terribly sorry these are the circumstances.

  3. I agree; no one who's ever been through anything even remotely like this would think that you're crying wolf. We do what we need to do for the people who need us - and who we need. Folks will either understand that or not, but that's not your problem to handle.. not even a little.

  4. thing thing is, those who know you and love you absolutely know that you are the LAST person to cry wolf. and for those who may enteratain that though...pfffft. clearly they are not of your tribe.

    This part of the journey is hard. and painful. those of us who have been here before understand. We are your tribe. here. for you.

  5. Anonymous4:22 PM

    Put it WAY out of your judgment criteria! What else were you to think? One never knows with these things as things turn so quickly in these kinds of situations. I am really glad you went. That is what family is all about.
    I'm sending hugs and e chocolate...

  6. Yes it's good you went. Crying wolf, as you've called it, is all about perspective.

    Getting the call sucks. I got the call too late when my Granny died, but I think she did that on purpose so I didn't see her as she died....I can remember her healthier.

    Go see her as much as you can. You'll be glad you did. She knows you're there even if it doesn't seem like it.

    Do you need anything? Let me know. Good Karma's on the way.

  7. This is what I needed. Thanks for all of it. I'll be consuming mass quantities of chocolate and practicing indulgent self-care for a while.

  8. I'm so sorry. Absolutely no crying wolf here. I think it's a good thing you went, too. Always.