Last Thursday morning at around 5:45, I got woken up by my cell phone ringing. I knew by the ringtone that it was my dad, so I immediately answered.
“I need you to get over here and take your mother to the emergency room.”
No one ever wants to hear those words come out of one parent’s mouth about the other. I dressed as quickly as I could and, my husband following behind in his car, proceeded to head as quickly as I could to my parents’ house, half an hour away from where I live. (My dad ended up telling my husband to head back home; it turned out that it wasn’t that serious.) When I arrived, I saw what had happened: she had tripped over the internet cable and landed on a not-very-padded carpet, splitting her chin open at a previous scar and leaving blood spots that would later make one of my brothers jump back with disgust. What infuriated me was the fact that she was now saying she didn’t want to go to the hospital.
Here’s where the musings begin. Can anyone tell me how old one must be to hog-tie your own mother and throw her into your car and drive to the hospital for her own good? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to give her some advice and how many times she has just ignored it. Mostly it’s on everyday stuff, like a situation with one of my brothers or what have you, so I let it go, but this one really irritated me. It seems to me that, because I am the daughter and she does, in point of fact, have much more life experience than I do, that she never really takes anything I may have to say to heart. Don’t get me wrong; my mother is great, but her stubbornness can very much grate on me. I know, I am younger, but does that discount my opinions?
Around 12:30 or so that afternoon, after she had bandaged and re-bandaged it almost hourly because the wound kept bleeding, my dad finally told her that she needed to go to the hospital, whether she liked it or not. We went and, after two *expletive* hours in the waiting room of the Emergency Department, she was seen by a nurse practitioner who told her that – surprise! – she was going to need stitches. (Am I terrible for actually saying “I told you so”?) I was irritated already for having to wait that long in the hospital, but it was made worse by the fact that I had wanted her to do this at 6:15 that morning when I first got there and the wait was most likely nowhere near this long then.
It was only as they were stitching her and I stood there holding onto her hand as she winced in pain from the anesthetic needle that my irritation subsided. All I could think of was how she had been there for me whenever I was sick. I remember her soothing me as I waited for an emergency appendectomy at age 11. I remembered her buying me Gatorade and making me rice whenever I was throwing up. I remembered just a couple of years ago as she rushed into the Health Services department at the theme park I worked at at the time, tears running down her face, asking where I was and if I was all right. And now here I was, in her role, being the strong one; the hardass who was getting irritated because medical attention should have come earlier and sooner. I had officially become my mother.
And hey, maybe next time she’ll actually go when she needs to and not wait.