Sally Richards was
diminished – all but bright eyes:
even her last smile.
She came around just enough
to tell her ‘death doctor’ “No.”*
*This and a few others were penned July 7, 2017 and join one other poetic work on the subject “My Mother Was A Witch, She’d Say”, and was such a curious human who not only put up with me and her other two boys – not counting her worstest and biggest boy husband John. The infantile paralysis (polio) that plagued her early 20th-Century life and left her with scoliosis – spinal curvature – and gradually diminished her blood gas numbers enough for her primary care physician to commit her to hospital – where she contracted, of course, pneumonia and death, and by then was ready to be released. Her timing was as usual impeccable. She became fully lucid in that critical care/intensive care hospital bed as the doctor in charge of her case in ccu/icu was talking with dad about intubation and mechanical breathing as a way to continue the fight for her life. “Mom,” I implored. “The doctor is here. They want to do heroic things with and to you to continue your life. You told both me and dad you don’t want that. But, hey, pretty lady: if we are not here and no matter what is written on you chart at the foot of your bed if you ‘Code,’ no one here is going to spend time looking at charts to see what you want, they are just gonna work like hell to save your life. If you don’t want that, now is the time, mom, to tell the doctor in no uncertain terms you want water, food and air from tubes and nothing else. I ain’t through punishing you yet, but you get first call like it was your birthday breakfast menu. So wake your young ass up and say to the doctor what you want. He’ll listen.” She did and she did, and he listened. Later, my ccu/icu MS RN friend gave me a hard hug and a cheek peck and whispered as mom and dad held hands and talked secret, and Lin said to me: I know you don’t think so, J, but that was the best you could do for her. Dammit!)