Saturday, 19 January 2013

With dignity and respect

Sunrise in the air
My mother and my father find themselves, unknowingly, in the same hospital, she on one ward, he on another, the hospital itself a stone's throw from the maternity hospital where my eldest was born. She was born shortly after my parents' divorce, things were tricky. Visits had to be carefully managed. Not so easy, pre mobile phone. There was a payphone in the corridor of the maternity ward. It was much used, so you often had to hover and wait, anxiously leaving your new scrap of life in her plastic sided cot. Using coin after coin, I made the necessary calls to co-ordinate their visits appropriately.

Mama came with her sister, Ciocia Janka; two buses, and a long walk each way. Tata came with Bozenna, carrying a big bunch of pink helium filled balloons proclaiming "It's a girl!". Looking carefully for the right ward, they completely failed to notice they were in the wrong hospital until they walked onto the Oncology ward.

And now they're both within the same building, the brand new hospital replacing the old one, with strangers tending to their most intimate needs. Childlike in their needs now, as we all are, really, beneath the skin. I wonder if now, after all these years, they ever think of their early days together. Think of the first pull towards the other. And I wonder about pulling towards and pushing away, and the trickiness of connection.

And I'm thankful for kind strangers, who make a difference by treating them carefully, with dignity and respect.

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