Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!
Once we arrived at Wheaton Franciscan, we began a demanding wait to receive care. I should say the wait was demanding most on Papa---I was just the healthy twenty-year old driver sent to the hospital with Papa and Mama. I could tell the wait to see a healthcare specialist was demanding on Mama as well. The poor thing kept writing Papa’s symptoms on a scratch sheet of paper: dizziness, much urination, very tired. Mama was busy flipping through her French to English translation dictionary to make sure everything she wrote was accurate. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the nurse already had the information and, until Papa a nurse or doctor actually checked on Papa, the nurse in the waiting room could do little to help him. Collette was simply trying to make sure her husband’s sickness could be best treated. What she really needed was a translator. What took the most time to obtain was a French translator.
As we waited, a nurse came to ask Papa his birthday. Trying to work our way through Collette’s broken English, I managed to pose the question to her. Or so I thought she understood. Her response was “1946.” I pressed her on the exact date. She shook her head, and so I figured the date was unknown. Of course, the nurse was not having any of this. Papa had neither a birthday nor a social security number. This, apparently, was going to be an issue.
I felt for these people from The Congo, here in this country simply to be with a son in a coma. Collette and Marcel came to Milwaukee just over five months ago to be closer to their son who they cannot really communicate with. They wanted to be closer to him, I presume, because they wonder how long he has left on this world. I’m sure, judging by the incredible faith both possess, they pray everyday to God for a miracle that would send their son into a state of normalcy. Most of all, I presume they pray to God thanking God for all of lives blessings. These are the kind of people you want to draw some sort of truth from. These are the kind of people that “get it.” They understand the essence of life more than many of us do. Like a woman said to me this morning while I was working the Kenosha Farmer’s market, life is really about people. Isn’t that so true? We are social beings called to live, one way or another, with and for other people. At the moments in the hospital, Collette was living extra hard for her husband Marcel. And though he had little strength left to draw from, the Spirit that still kept him breathing I feel must have kept Papa’s mind on his wife. I have to believe that his heart clutched hers as his head spun from dizziness and his body suffered from an overwhelming feeling of physical weakness.
We finally were given a room to wait in about 45 minutes after getting to the hospital. Thankfully, I was able to clear the birthday issue up with Papa and Mama. After language negotiations, I found out his actual birth date. It would be at least another 45 minutes, if not an hour, until someone saw Papa. During the time of waiting, I witnessed something I didn’t expect from a person as strong and tough as Mama Collette. Collette, the woman with all the smiles and all the joy and happiness, was crying. She couldn’t contain her emotions any longer. She told me, in her thick French accent, that life was very difficult for her right now. First, her son was in a coma and now, her husband. It nearly broke my heart. There was nothing I could to except put a hand on Collette’s shoulder. In one way, I felt out of place in the room. But in another way, I felt like I could at least offer some sort of solace to the grieving, aching woman. I did what seemed like a good idea at the time and stood up, walked over to a box of tissues in the hospital room, plucked a piece of tissue and handed it to Mama. Through sniffles, she said thank you. It was probably a better move than trying to console her using the five words I know in French. (I know a few more since the trip to the hospital because I am prepping myself for a trip to France in a week. But that’s completely irrelevant information right now).
So does this story get better? Or are we just left with a crying mother and wife, and a husband who is dizzy and feeling very weak? Well, I’ll give away some of the ending. The story DOES get better, thank God. In my opinion, it starts to get better when the translator finally comes.
To be continued…
Peace and blessings!
Your friend bob.