Jul 15, 2010

Anger Surges After Surgery

Hi everyone. As summer rolls on, you must be wondering how I am doing after my surgery. So nice of you to ask . . . finally. Yes, thanks for all the cards and gifts you sent, and by that I mean thanks for nothing. No one sent a card or called, including my family. They didn’t even show up at the hospital. They all had excuses – one had to go the post office, others were watching TV. My husband didn’t even have the decency to HAVE an excuse. He said was in the waiting room during my surgery, went out for coffee, and just “plum forgot” to go back. How can you forget that your wife is having surgery? Do you know how embarrassing it is to have to call a taxi when you’re discharged from the hospital because your family forgot about you? I had to pretend the taxi driver was my husband, calling him “Honey.” He backed away, as if I was a nut case, and the nurses shook their heads at me.

The taxi took me home, and when I rang the door bell, the whole family looked surprised to see me standing there, all bandaged up. They took me upstairs and holed me up in a dark, remote bedroom. They put some frozen TV dinners on the nightstand and told me to ring the bell if I needed anything. I knew, of course, that there was no bell. Then they shut the door behind me and wished me well, never to return to the room again.

Three weeks later, I emerged from the room and went downstairs to the kitchen. My husband and sons looked surprised to see me. Some had obviously forgotten me and then tried to pretend they didn’t. The eldest son extended his hand as if he was meeting me for the first time and said, “Nice to meet you,” but when I gave him a quick rap on the head, he suddenly remembered who I was. “Oh! Mom! Welcome home!” he said, as if I had just returned from a trip.

I scolded all of them for forgetting to take care of me. My husband said it was much quieter when I was “gone.” Again, I reminded them all that I wasn’t gone at all. I was upstairs! Instead of apologizing, they looked dubious, as if I had made up the story.

My husband tried to change the subject by handing me a card that sent by my night-time employer. I clean some offices late at night to earn extra money. I was glad that someone remembered me, but I was soon disappointed when I opened the card. It read, “Happy Bar Mitzvah Morrie,” but someone crossed out “Morrie” and wrote “Janie.” My false name is Jackie, as I’ve told them a million times. Adding insult to injury, their “well wishes” were really just thinly veiled to-do lists for when I return. One person wrote, “Feel better and please fix men's room toilet, which keeps overflowing.” Another person jotted, “Get well soon and we need more ant poison by the vending machines.” I looked at the other messages and realized how empty my life is. No friends, no family. No one cares. I was mentally plotting a bloody revenge when the doorbell rang.

I looked out the window to see a flower-delivery van in my driveway. My heart jumped. Could someone have sent flowers to me? A large, sweaty man was standing at the door holding a package in one hand and a cigar in the other. “Delivery for Janie Phillips,” he croaked.

“I’m Jackie. I mean Janie,” I said. He coughed a horrible smoker’s cough into the package and then told me to sign for it. Then he handed over a beautiful edible “flower” arrangement made of fruits. The arrangement sparkled in the sunlight, as if to say, “You are special, Janie!” I gave the guy a generous tip and told him to be careful as he tripped over the rotting jack-o-lantern on our front stoop. He hacked a whole lot more all over my bird bath and then said, “Thanks.”

I was so excited. I never get packages, so I ripped open the card to find that the edible arrangement was sent by my two younger sons, who used their own money to buy something to cheer me up. I was ecstatic! I hugged and kissed the two boys, and they said, “See, we didn’t forget.” How thoughtful. When I went to bed that night, I realized that life wasn't as bad as I thought. Some people in my family really love me. And some is good enough for me.

No matter how bad you feel, keep your spirits up and never stop shooting for the stars. Even if you don't hit 'em, at least you can take comfort in knowing you've got a gun.