It’s a gloomy day here, and not conducive to being outside, since it’s cold. So, it’s a good day for being inside telling stories. Really, you know if it were snowing, or sunny, or both, I would be out taking pictures of it. Well, maybe not — I’m feeling pooky today.
Anyway, there was this boy — well, he was nearly a man, but a teenager, so in-between a boy and a man — and he had this step-dad who he thought was an old fart. Stepdad was gruff, kind of rude, and sometimes mean, at least as far as the lad was concerned. More than once he asked his mother, “Why do you put up with that from him?”
She didn’t give him the cliche’ answer he always expected (“Because I love him”) or try to make excuses for him. She just asked him, “Put up with what, dear?”
Yet, Christmastime rolled around and Stepdad produced, out of the clear blue, tickets to the historic last game at the Cotton Bowl stadium before they built the new one. He had really wanted to go, but the tickets were sky-high, so he wasn’t really expecting to. Stepdad said he didn’t want to go to the game with him, but that he could take a friend of his choice. And then Stepdad took them to the stadium, handed them a cell phone, and came and picked them up after the game. The next Christmas the lad received a shiny new black electric guitar, and a set of learner’s books so he could learn to play it.
After a while, the lad began to notice how his step-siblings related to Stepdad, and noticed that they ignored his gruff exterior. So, the lad decided that Stepdad was really a good man, undercover as a grumpy old man.
One day Stepdad was at work in another town, and the house was quiet. The lad slept-in, and so did his stepbrother. The only other person home was his mother, so it was a quiet morning. The lad finally decided he was hungry — after all, it was close to noon — so he got up to go to the kitchen and see what was in the pantry. As he was walking by his mother’s room, he saw her laying on the bed watching tv.
The thing that sent the lad reeling was that his mom was laying there naked. “Whoa,” he thought, turning around quickly and heading down the hall. “I guess it’s her house, if she wants to lay around and watch tv like that.” In the kitchen the lad noticed the lid off of the cake pan, and a fork sticking out of the cake. “Dang,” he thought, “doesn’t anybody know how to put stuff up?” He knew his mother would be livid if she saw that. She hated dried-out cake.
The lad was getting a box of Pop-tarts out of the pantry when he stopped and stared at the cake, lid askew, fork sticking out, crumbs all around. There was even a bite of cake that had been dropped and left on the counter. And suddenly, something about this morning –his naked mom who had never been seen that way, the cake sitting out when it was never left that way before — something just didn’t seem right.
The lad thought for a minute. Then he decided he wasn’t going to take the heat for whoever left the cake out, so he walked back to his mother’s room, where she was still staring at the tv. He tried to avert his eyes, since she still hadn’t gotten dressed. “Mom?” he said quietly. No answer.
“Mom?” a little louder this time. Still no answer, no movement. That lost feeling began to creep over the lad — he and his mother were close.
“MOM?!” The lad walked up to the bed and began noticing little opened bags of candy, medical pills for low blood sugar, a tube of opened glucose gel, all laying around and beside her. It was obvious she had tried hard to save her own life.
He was sure she was dead, but began shaking her and yelling her name anyway. He heard a noise come from her, and that was all he needed. The lad ran into his stepbrother’s room, in a panic, yelling. The stepbrother was annoyed, and yelled back. Finally, he heard the words, “ambulance” and “Mom” coming out of the lad’s mouth, and sprang up and grabbed the phone. When the stepbrother had called the ambulance, he went back to his stepmother’s room and realized that the situation was far worse than he had imagined.
The lad was on the bed with his unconscious mother, desperately trying to get her to swallow some sort of gel in a tube. He seemed oblivious to anything else. Both young men were sure they had been too late. It was the look on her face. The blank, clouded-over stare, the all-too-pale skin.
The stepbrother escorted the ambulance attendants in when they arrived. Both young men waited in the living room — it was too hard to watch. The lad finally walked back to see if there was even a glimmer of hope. His mom was still laying there, unresponsive, staring blankly. The ambulance attendants had thought to throw something over her, which was something he had been in too much of a panic to think of.
The lad called his stepfather, who was four hours away. His stepfather was the calm in the storm, and reassured the lad that he had done all he could do, and that it was now in God’s hands. The lad walked soberly back into his mother’s room, in front of his mother’s blank stare.
As suddenly as taking a breath, the lad’s mother moved her eyes. The blank, cloudy look disappeared, and his mother began looking around. The lad blinked back a tear, and relief swept over him. His mother was having trouble coming back around, so she was loaded on the ambulance and taken to the hospital.
Later that day, the lad’s mother was back home, resting comfortably. The insulin reaction that she had endured was severe enough that this time she hadn’t come out of it as quickly and it had left her exhausted. Other than that, she was going to be fine.
The lad hovered around the rest of the day, checking on his mother frequently, until his stepdad arrived home. The lad now understood the fear his stepdad lived in every day, wondering when the next round was going to happen. His mother could be fine one minute, and at death’s door the next. He wondered often how much longer his mother could have lasted if he had not gone down the hall and found her.
Now everywhere the lad’s mother goes she carries a whole arsenal of supplies to avoid this same scenario repeating itself. Even at home, there is always a steady supply of things to stave off an emergency. And the lad has been taught how to give his mother medical treatment, should this ever happen again. So far, it hasn’t — his mother has been able to use her arsenal to take care of the situation before it gets out-of-hand.
The lad and his mother are closer than ever now. And the lad has gained a new respect for his stepdad and they are now close as well. Sometimes things happen for reasons we don’t always see right away.
Okay, so that’s my story for this gloomy, cold day. My storytelling ability is not all that great, but this was the story as it was told to me. The lad happens to be a good storyteller, so I just wrote it the way he told me. Well, maybe with better grammar.
Even though my son was doing what any son who loves his mother would do, I have still always been extra grateful to him for stepping in the way he did. Frank had, unfortunately, had to save me from the brink on several occasions as well, but never to such an extreme. Frank is also a calm, wise, adult man, and has not had to work around being a scared kid.
So, that’s the story of my two heroes. My daughter is actually a hero as well, but she doesn’t like me talking about her, so I have to settle. I strive every day to not put anybody through that again. I am mercifully oblivious to the fear that comes from living with someone who has volatile health issues, since I’m usually not really with-it when things like this are going on, so I try to be understanding of other people’s worry and fear.
At any rate, those who are in the position of taking care of someone else, either a child, an adult, an elderly person, are heroes. Heroes.
If you are one of them, be sure you are aware that you are heroes.