“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Wake-up Call

Friday morning, September 10, after making all kinds of arrangements in order to leave town, I was just about to get a suitcase to the car to drive to Montgomery to my Aunt Laurette’s 90th birthday celebration. NOT.

“Rriiingg, the phone is ringing,” as the Wonder Pets sing.

It was the owner of the café where my husband eats breakfast. “Joanna, Joe Lee has fallen out or fainted or something. We’ve called an ambulance,” said the frantic voice.

I thought I would choke on my heart. “I’m on my way, Barbara.”

I sped to the café, getting there just as the ambulance had pulled out to go to the hospital’s emergency room. The other paramedics in the Fire Rescue truck said, “It’s going to be ok. Here’s his stuff. Don’t speed to the ER. He’s going to be ok.”

My mind’s blank as I drive to the ER.

I get through the ER’s security gate and the guard walks me to the long hall leading to the last room on the left.

“Sit here with this lady, and I’ll see if you can go back yet,” said the guard. I stood next to the desk looking down the hall.

The lady was clicking away on her computer. “What’s your relationship to the patient?”

I jerked my head around in her direction. “Wife.”

“Is your husband’s Medicare the primary and PEEHIP the secondary?”

“Yes.” I kept looking down the hall. The paramedics were just outside the door.

“Is your address still 3403. . . .”

“Lady, this is the emergency room. I’m worried about my husband. Can’t we do this later?”

The security guard was walking toward me. “Not yet,” she said.

I looked past her and thought I saw the paramedic shake his head. “Oh, my God,” I thought. I started crying.

The security guard looked back and the paramedic indicated for us to come on to the room.

“Come on,” said the guard.

I wiped my eyes on my shirt and headed down the hall. It seemed to take forever.

“He’s ok. His blood pressure dropped and he fainted,” said the paramedic. “He’s going to be fine.”

His shirt lay in the floor, split in half so they could get to his chest. His eyes opened.

“Aren’t you going to Montgomery,” he said.

I just shook my head. “Don’t pick now to say absurd things, please.”

So, we spent Friday and the weekend in the hospital. I had arranged for our granddaughter to stay with friends, thinking I’d be at the birthday celebration. That Sunday was Grandparents Day, and what had been a fairly meaningless holiday took on heavy significance.

The experience was worth several lessons.

First, I learned that LOW body stuff can be more dangerous than HIGH body stuff. Like sugar level and blood pressure level. Second, we learned through all the tests he went through on Friday and Saturday that nothing really horrible was wrong. That left some new blood pressure medicine he was taking as the likely culprit.

Third, just when you think you’re kind of skating after, say, a really stressful week, you can be dead wrong. Then at our ages it takes the next week to recuperate from an experience like that.

Fourth, he doesn’t need to be croaking on me and I don’t need to be croaking on him. We have a 3-1/2-year-old granddaughter to raise. There’s work to be done before we can rest in peace.

Fifth, it occurred to me that life is like this train that cuts right through the middle of Tuscaloosa, paralleling 15th Street. But that’s a topic for the next Spittin’ Grits post.

Meanwhile, my aunt had what she described as “the best birthday I’ve ever had.” Attention, telephone calls, and cards flowed her way.

And last but not least, as I told my aunt, “Laurette, you’re only 90 once.”

Or you’re not. The train can pull into the last station at any time.


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