Art by Katherine
After church on Sunday Mary wanted to visit Stan , her dying ,beloved husband in the Rehabilitation Unit where he had been sent recently by a strange physiotherapist [instead of to a hospice?)
He was unhappy as the diuretics made him pee even more often than he used to do and he got very worried about it because his bad heart made it extremely hard for him to walk.
When she went into the 4 bed ward she saw Stan sitting on his chair without any pyjama trousers on even though it was visiting time from 3 to 8 pm.
Why has he no trousers on?
Mary asked a nurse angrily, her blue eyes full of glistening tears which almost washed off her turquoise mascara and made runnels in her honey beige foundation by Remmel of London ,Paris and Auschwitz
He keeps wanting to go to the toilet so it’s easier for us all if he has no pants on,the nurse told her haughtily.He’s on diuretics,you see as he has water in his lungs and other inner organs and the water has to be removed from his body
I know that
What about the lack of dignity in baring him to the world,Mary enquired softly yet piercingly her eyes dripping tears again.
Dignity,what’s that? the nurse said insolently.It’s out of date like suits for men
He is just a pest. And old men don’t deserve any attention.We are tired of them.They should all die now.That’s government policy too.
Emile who had hidden in Mary’s old,but good olive green Radley leather handbag let out a sound like a banshee in Cork or a demon in a nightmare.
The nurse looked as frightened as a gypsy in a train to Poland in 1941
What’s tha noiset? she whispered to Mary behind her hand.
It’s probably Satan coming to say ” hello” to you as you seem very wicked to me.
Mary informed her politely yet honestly in her Northern way.
Oh my,what shall I do? the nurse asked in a trembling voice.I am so upset now.
You could try reading the Ten Commandments,Mary riposted jocosely… if it’s not too late.
Or recalling the Golden Rule………
I’ve never heard of the golden rule,said the nurse.Is it a measuring instrument of some unusual type?
Yes,in a sense it is,Mary said.It measures us by our compassion towards others.And you seem to have none for Stan.Can you not imagine what it’s like being a man sitting half naked in a public room with no recourse?
What’s a recourse,Sheila, the nurse, asked her thoughtfully,Is it a garment like a dressing gown?
No,it’s a a source of help in a difficult situation.It’s a remedy or an option
I have a higher degree in nursing,Sheila boasted stupidly.
I don’t care if you have ten doctorates in nursing and philosophy,Mary cried.It’s what you do and say to the patients that counts.And going to an evening class in English would do you no harm.Your vocabulary is limited,to say the least.Words are useful whatever job you do.Or even if you are unemployed it helps you deal with bureaucrats
Oh,dear,said the nurse,I am sorry for being so thoughtless.I am always thinking about sex,love,Putin,my boyfriend and my clothes instead of the patients.I see now I have fallen into evil ways and hope I can improve my behaviour and speech
You have been cruel, said Mary.And seeing my aged husband like this is breaking my heart.Although it was cracked already
She went over to Stan whose face was almost black, [when he was normally beige] and sat by him.He fell against her bosom hungrily.
Alas it was not for erotic reasons.His blood sugar was only 2 and his BP was 60/40.He was dying there with no trousers on and with no-one but Mary to help him… and Emile, their small intelligent black cat ,of course.Unfortunately Emile’s trousers were too small for Stan
.Mary wrapped a bath towel around Stan and held him in her arms.
Stan tried to speak but Mary could not make out what he was saying.
Tears ran down her beautiful oval face and dripped onto Stan’s head.
I suppose one might say it was a kind of baptism by love.
Now Stan will be entering a new dimension and will be given a new and better name by One who cannot be named here.But you catch my drift?
Soon Stan collapsed, his face went even blacker.Only then was he sent to a real hospital with full equipment.He died, looking happy, the next day.His last words
“So many lovely friends”
Emile was crying on Mary’s lap.
Don’t worry Emile.He was very unhappy.
So am I, Emile wept
Then Mary wept herself.
What a pity Emile is a cat and so cannot embrace the person he calls “Mother”
Judgement is mine says the Lord
Though He is a total Mystery to Humankind