Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This morning when I threw the kids in the van to take Ben to school, I noticed Scott's sunglasses sitting in a cupholder and thought it would be a good idea to take them to him at work.  And, since we were in the business of showing up at his work with things for him, Caleb and I decided it would also be nice to surprise him with a Caramel Macchiato from Starbuck's.

Scott was surprise and happy and spent a few minutes visiting with us and then it was time to go.  As we approached the lobby of the hospital, I heard a faint "Ma'am?  Excuse me, ma'am?".  I looked over to see an elderly woman flagging me down, so of course I went over to see what she wanted.

Adjusting the getting-very-heavy toddler I watch on my hip and pushing my falling-off-my-shoulder purse back up, I approached the woman. 

"Isn't there supposed to be a volunteer here?" she asked me.  "I thought there was supposed to be someone who can help me get upstairs."

I don't know, lady.  I don't work here.  Can't you see I'm trying to juggle a toddler and a preschooler and a juice box?

"I'm not really sure, but maybe I can help you," I said.

"Well," she said, "my daughter just dropped me off so she could take her own son to a doctor's appointment.  I have these two bags here, and do you think I could take a wheel chair upstairs?  That way I could put my bags on the chair and push it around.  I'm very unsteady on my feet.  Isn't there supposed to be someone here to help me?"

"Well, how about I'll just help you?"  I said.

"Oh, I'm sure you have someplace to be," she replied.

Yes, home, so I can change a diaper and give snacks out.

"Nope, we were just visiting my husband at work.  We can help you out."

"Oh thank you," she said.  "I'm here visiting my husband in the hospital.  He has cancer."

Oh.  The C-word. 

I got a call from my mom this morning.  My grandpa was just diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.  It is inoperable, and he will go in for a PET scan next week to see how treatable it is.  As I spoke with this woman, who happened to be just my grandma's age, I couldn't help but picture my grandma in this same position.  I knew that this old woman could easily have been my grandma in the hospital trying to visit her sick husband.  Tears came to my eyes as I took her bags and she took my arm and the four of us made our way up to the eighth floor.

As we slowly walked down the hall, we had plenty of time to talk.  It turns out she's from the small town where Scott and I are planning to go for a getaway next month and knows a couple of people that I know in Mary Kay.  I told her about them, and she told me that she's been in Mary Kay for 30 years.

As we approached the nurses' station, one of the nurses, seeing that I was carrying a squirming toddler and three bags while trying to wrangle an almost two year old with an eldery lady on my arm, came rushing up to help.  She asked the woman (who, I had learned, was named Evelyn) who "these cuties" were that she brought with her, and Evelyn replied that she had just met us in the lobby.  Before the nurses could walk her down to see her husband, Evelyn stopped, grabbed both of my hands and told me her full name.  She told me her phone number and the town that she lived in, and told me I really needed to call her.  She then asked for my name, and told me she was going to go write it down before she forgot.

As the nurses walked her down the hall, I could hear Evelyn repeating my name over and over, most likely so she wouldn't forget it.

I teared up a little as I watched her walk away, thinking of my grandparents.

My grandpa and I have been close my whole life.  In fact, my grandparents had a huge part in raising me.  Knowing my grandpa has inoperable lung cancer is killing me.  Thinking of a future without either of my grandparents is unbearable.  I knew in my head that this time would come, but my heart refused to believe it.  It's too early to tell how much time he has left.  Right now he's feeling pretty good.  I do know that the median survival rate for his cancer is 16-24 months.  I pray that for him it's longer.

1 comment:

  1. What a thoughtful thing for you to do to help her! I just found out yesterday that my only living grandparent (my other grandma died in January) has a brain tumor and mass on her lungs. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family as you go through this. Sending lots of hugs your way!