This I Believe

Lisa - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on December 3, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I Believe

It’s a blustery, late-autumn morning in New York. The holidays are coming and everyone has things to do. I’m walking with my aged step father, the few blocks from his hotel to the hospital where my mother is recovering from heart surgery. As we approach the wide, heavily trafficked avenue, we look at one another. We know we need to time our crossing just as the white figure signaling walk appears on the traffic light. Even if we step off the curb at just that moment, and even if my step dad holds my arm, we won’t make it across before the symbol gives way to the flashing red hand, and the traffic begins to rev. My step dad is totally alert mentally, but he suffers from an ailment that affects his balance. He’s always in danger of falling.

We get to the other side of the avenue and cross a short driveway. Now we face the revolving door. This particular hospital has an automatic, constantly turning door at the entrance. There’s a small metal button on the right side that if you push it, it will slow the pace at which the door turns. As the days visiting my mom have slipped away, I’ve become aware of sounds when I push the button. Sighs, and clucking, and even sometimes comments. “I’m sorry”, I want to respond, “are we slowing you down by, what, eleven seconds?”

We enter what I call “hospital world”. This isn’t the first time I’ve visited a loved one over a period of time in a hospital. I’ve come to observe certain things about visitors to hospital world. I think it makes you more of who you are. If you’re a gentle soul, perhaps you try to acknowledge patients around you. Maybe you try to smile; to offer a bit of warmth or encouragement. If you’re self-centered, and in a great big hurry, you don’t look at anyone and get on with your business as briskly as you can. Certainly, visitors aren’t limited to those descriptions, but as our days go by, I’m astonished by some of the behaviors I observe.

On this day, my mom’s doing really well. For my step dad, the entire experience of the hospital has been a serious challenge.

It’s time for the elevators. This is a great hospital with a world famous reputation and an extraordinary staff. But it is severely elevator-challenged. A number of times, every single day, the elevators are so crowded they rival NY subways at rush hour. And I can’t believe it as my step father cautiously crosses the door jam reaching for a hand rail that I’m hearing those exasperated sounds again.

We are all aging; and if we’re lucky we’ll get old and we may have problems with our balance. Some of us will be in a position to hope that we are treated the way we treated the elderly when we were young.

I’m Lisa of Brooklyn New York and this I believe.