Friday, June 19, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Waits

Our patience, like our ears, grows with age. We go from being babies, having our mothers by our side to answer every beck and call, to adolescents who must learn the hard way that everyone must get a turn, to adults who should have had lots of practice standing in lines and strumming her fingers on the steering wheel at stoplights. By the time a woman is in her thirties, she's done a lot of waiting.

Yesterday I took my sweet Mom in for (minor) surgery. After she was wheeled in, I took my place in the hospital waiting room. I had forgotten how stale those rooms are; how the nervous energy sits in the air and causes the hands on the clock to move slower than normal.

Conversations in hospital waiting rooms are always the same. People make light of the procedure being done on their loved one. They remember how someone they know, or know through a friend, or heard of on TLC had the same procedure and was better than normal within twenty four hours. They talk about the competency of the doctors and the staleness of the donuts downstairs in the cafeteria. They tell jittery stories about the people they work with or the traffic on the highway in the morning, and everyone laughs more than they need to.

When the doctor came in to tell me that everything went fine, and then the nurse came in to tell me that my Mom was doing great but is NOT to do any more heavy lifting by herself, I finally allowed myself to breathe. The waiting room became a normal room again, but brighter.

I walked in the recovery room to find my Mom sitting up in her bed and longing for her cup of coffee. 'I'm fine; I feel great,' she kept saying, because that's what Moms always say.

A woman in her thirties waits. She waits even when the waiting room is bearing down on her. She waits for her mother to take sips from the straw she holds to her lips while she recovers. She times application of ice packs, and waits for her mother to ask for help (in her own way, of course). She waits for and waits on the people she loves because, if she's lucky, she has a string of people who would do the same thing for her.

And in this way, she takes comfort in all that waiting.

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