Monday was a day
of learning truths. Other than to give
birth to Andrew, I had never been a hospital patient. I’ll admit I liked being on giving not
receiving side of care. As I waited for
the transport team to take me to the OR for the insertion of a pin in my left
leg, my thoughts focused on all the dire complications I could remember. Some were the product of an imagination out of
control. My heart thundered. My mouth was dry. Tears filled my eyes.
fine,” Beth Logan, neighbor and nurse
said. “We’ll take good care of you.”
I clung to the
assurance in her voice. “Just think of
all the things that can go wrong.”
Beth patted my
hand. “Just remember how seldom they
occur.” In that moment I realized how
important sympathy is for a patient.
Before we could say more, the team arrived and wheeled me away.
The rest of the
day passed in semi-consciousness.
Drowsiness from the anesthesia and the pain medication scrambled my
thoughts. Even Andrew’s scolding about
my foolishness barely registered.
By Wednesday I
felt caged and tired of pale green walls, gray tile floors and white
sheets. The television turned low and switched
from channel to channel failed to divert me from an aching need to escape
Dr. Beemish had
promised to discharge me once crutch walking was mastered. By noon, the physical therapist hadn’t
arrived. I toyed with my lunch and
prayed for mint tea and the serenity of my apartment.
Lars, my friend
and bridge partner, called from Santa
. He spends
most of the winter months at his home there.
He hoped I would heal quickly and grumbled about my penchant for
When I hung up I
waved at Pete Duggan. He held a bouquet
of yellow mums. “More flowers. Why?”
thing to do. You chose a dumb way to
turn down my offer of a partnership.”
I laughed. “Breaking my leg wasn’t my first choice.”
He slouched on a
chair and told me some stories about the storm.
The tales made me laugh.
The arrival of
Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephens, ended Pete’s visit. The small, dapper man’s ringing tenor voice
dripped with sympathy and gossip. While
he regaled me with stories I would rather not have heard, Paul and Maria
Prescott arrived. I eyed the thermos in
Maria’s hand and sighed in anticipation.
One of my wishes had come true.
“Mrs. Miller, I
was so sorry you have the accident and I am not here to give you the help. When Paul and I come home last night Mrs.
Sarah tell us you have the misfortune. I
have brought the tea.”
coughed. I made the introductions
without mentioning Paul and Maria’s last name.
Edward’s face showed a hint of disapproval. He stared at the gold hoop dangling from
Paul’s ear. Edward kissed my cheek. “Katherine, I’ll keep you in my prayers.”
prayers be for my healing of about my choice of friends? I hadn’t told Edward that Paul owns the most
successful antique store in town or that Prescott Reproductions is on the way
to success. Maria designs jewelry and
has a growing reputation in her field.
Paul and I had
met the year I converted the house. He’d
come to evaluate the antiques I’d decided to sell. We had become friends. Several years later on a trip to Spain
he’d met Maria. After their marriage
he’d purchased the house next-door.
Maria opened the
thermos. Some people crave
caffeine. My choice is mint tea. Like a starving woman I reached for the cup,
breathed in the aroma and sipped. The
hint of chamomile made me smile.
“Heavenly. Thank you. How was your trip?”
“We have the
beautiful time. My madre and padre are
happy to have us home again. Paul find
many beautiful things for the shop. My
niece, Bianca, want to live with us so she can go to school. Paul and I think on this.” She sat in the chare beside the bed.
against the door frame. His shoulder
length blond hair had been pulled into a club at his nape. “I hear you nabbed the neighborhood thieves.”
I grinned. “With help from the police.”
“Good show. Any hope they’ll recover the loot?”
“Call Pete. He should know.”
’s house had been
the scene of the first robbery. A gold
and emerald ring Maria had designed for a national juried show had been taken.
Maria shook her
head. “I do not know how you could let
the thieving men in your house. I would
scream and run.”
think. Just acted.”
Paul crossed the
room. “Now, why don’t I believe
that? Have you ever acted
impulsively?” He shook his head. “Bet you dismissed any options before you
He stood with
his hands on Maria’s shoulders. She
looked up at him and the love in her eyes made me sigh. Her dark coloring and near perfect features
complimented his rugged handsomeness.
Maria patted my
hand. “I should never have go away. First the bad man hit you. Then you fall in the snow. What if no one find you?”
“I’d be part of
an ice floe on the river.” Her frown
said she didn’t understand and explaining the town’s snow removal system was
beyond me. “I’m fine, child.”
“When you come
home I will care for you. My house takes
just one hand.”
see.” I looked up in time to catch
Paul’s not. “When do you start
summer. Once they spring you and you’re
on your feet, stop by the shop and check out your investment.”
Three years ago
when Paul started the reproduction workshop he needed a backer. I invested some of my savings. “I trust you.”
He laughed. “Could get you in trouble.”
never let you cheat me.”
could.” Andrew stepped into the
room. “Her trusting air is an act.”
“Is that a nice
way to speak to your mother?”
He stood with
his hands clasped behind his back like the presenting doctor for Grand
Rounds. “Paul, Maria, good to see
you.” He acknowledged their greetings
with a nod and walked to the bed. “Can’t
stay long or I’ll be late for office hours.
Ruth will drop by this evening.
Are you sure you won’t consider Hudson House for a few weeks?”
“Never.” Though the local nursing home was exclusive
and expensive I wanted my own apartment and bed.
Paul clicked his
heels and saluted me. Maria kissed my
cheek. “Not to worry, Dr. Andrew. When your madre come home I will tend her.”
Andrew sat on
the chair Maria had vacated. “Mom, I’m
serious. If not Hudson House, let me
hire a nurse.”
need. With Ruth’s, Sarah’s and Maria’s
help I’ll manage very well.”
“You are the
most stubborn woman in existence.” He
patted my hand. “I’ve found a tenant for
your apartment. Then I won’t have to
worry about you being in the house alone.
She’s a friend of Ted’s. Divorced
with two children.” He smiled. “Rachel’s a lovely woman. They’ll move in the end of the month.”
preferred to select my own tenants, I decided to let him win this round. “Rachel what?”
“Rodgers. Ted sent her to me for some therapy
sessions. Her divorce was messy. She even lost custody of her children. Ted helped her regain custody. She needs support. You’ll be good for her.”
the way he said her name bothered me.
For the past year I’ve noticed an inner restlessness about him. He seems discontent and to be searching for
illusive answers. I sighed.
He pulled a
paper from his briefcase. “Here’s the
lease. Ted drew it up. Rachel has signed.”
I found a pen
but first read the brief document. “This
is different from the one the realtor provides.”
“Simpler. Ted said you and Rachel would be protected.”
“The terms favor
the tenant.” I scratched out several of
the terms. “Tell Ted to have this
retyped and then I’ll sign.”
“Mom.” Andrew looked at what I wrote. “This is hardly fair to Rachel.”
Something in his
voice raised a flood of questions.
Before I had a chance to ask my son what was happening, the physical
therapist arrived. Andrew left.
minutes I embarked on an exhausting attempt to master the extra set of
legs. I returned to bed and slept until
the nurse woke me for dinner.
the trays were collected Ruth arrived.
“Mother Miller, you look so much better.”
She smiled. “Andrea’s in the hall near the
elevators. Let me find a wheel chair and
take you to her.”
“I’ll use the
crutches. Follow with the chair in case
I falter.” I slid to the edge of the bed
and positioned the crutches. I noticed
the concern on her face. “I should be
“Of course you
will be. I think you can master anything
daughter-in-law isn’t beautiful but she knows how to dress. She keeps her dark brown hair cut in a style
that’s perfect for her narrow face.
Though she graduated from college with honors and could have had a
brilliant career she’s chosen to serve as Andrew’s handmaiden. Even when his ideas clash with hers, she
doesn’t disagree in public.
“Ready.” Ruth appeared at the door with a wheelchair.
Slowly at first
and then with greater confidence, I walked toward the cluster of chairs near
the elevators. A drop of perspiration
slid down my back. Another made a path
down my nose. One hundred steps. Fifty more.
Then ten. The trip seemed longer
than my usual morning walk.
“Grandma.” Andrea bounced from a chair and dashed toward
me. Her dark brown hair had recently
been cut and curled around her face.
“Crutches, how neat. When you
don’t need them could they be mine?”
Hazel eyes like mine and Andrew’s sparkled with excitement.
After I eased
into the wheelchair Ruth lifted the leg rest to support the case. “Why would you want them?”
“To put them in
“Only if you
promise I’ll be in the audience.”
“Sure.” She kissed my cheek. “Can I write my name on your cast?”
that. You’re the first to ask. Guess my friends think I’m too old for cast
“Not you. They’re the old ones. When you come home I’ll stay and be your
nurse. Dad thinks you need one.”
She wrinkled her
nose. “Guess I can’t them.”
“Tell me what
you’ve been doing?”
released a spate of stories. To each I
responded in the proper manner. When
Andrea ran out of stories Ruth pushed me back to my room. She held the wheelchair while I transferred
to the bed.
“Are you sure
you can manage when you come home?” she
asked. “You know I’ll be glad to help
unless I’m tied up with Andrea’s schedule.”
“I’ll be fine.”
himself for the accident.”
“If anyone’s to
blame it’s his fool mother. If I’d
waited twenty minutes the street would have been scraped on both sides.” My sigh was part exasperation and part worry. “He’s too serious.”
She nodded. “It’s a phase.”
read Andrew like an expert but this time she was wrong.
“He would feel
better if he could do something. He
that.” Her concern for my son brought a
ripple of guilt. My stubborn pride
loosened its grip. “Why don’t you
suggest he hire a woman to come every morning for a few hours? Not a nurse, mind you. Just someone to help me dress and do some
light cleaning.” My sense of the
ridiculous rose. “Have him get me a
giggled. In that instant she looked no
older than her daughter. “That’s
wonderful. I can’t wait to see his face
when I tell him about the commode.”
joined hers. “I tried to make the
suggestion to him but couldn’t. He has a
view of me I don’t deserve. He’d be
embarrassed to think his mother has normal human functions.”
She patted my
hand. “He does tend to put you on a
pedestal. I’d better leave and get
she left I turned on the television. The
program, one of the crime shows I always watch, barely registered. My thoughts centered on my son and some
nameless concern for him.