Ramblings from the Cove...
July 4, 2014
By Lars Gren
It was one of the beautiful early summer days at the Cove, where in the distance you could see a sailboat, and the water was just rolling gently. By the time 4 o’clock came around, the sun had passed over to the northwestern side of our place and I was reminded that tomorrow will be the longest day of the year. How quickly the time has gone since our wintertime break in Florida during February and March, and now we’ll soon be saying, “Strange how the evenings are getting dark just about suppertime.”
I had been inside for the day with papers all strewn about, trying to make order out of chaos. My eyes had gotten a bit dry and sore, so I decided to leave the mess and to tell Kea that I was just going off for a short walk. Earlier in the day, Kea and Carrie had taken Elisabeth up to Lorenzo’s our local beautician, for a set. I had not gone up, and needed to pay for his work. When I called, he was still there and I asked if he was about to leave, which got an affirmative reply, and he added that I could just pay on Tuesday, but I decided to combine a walk with the possibility that he might be there so that I could get my debt paid.
In walking the set route that I normally take, I take a right at the first fork and eventually that gets me to the post office; however, the fork to the left is a shorter distance to Lorenzo’s, and I took it. As I approached the point where there’s a strip of dirt road with a corner house tucked in behind trees, bushes, and a fairly high stone wall, I thought, “I wonder if Eve is there?” I hadn’t seen Eve but once or twice since fall when we had tea together.
Every time I passed by either way, I would glance over or look at the house and see if there were any signs of life, but as of late I had not a hint of being so. On this day, though, I spotted the form of Eve nearly on her knees doing some transplanting work in the garden, and so I was pleased and called, “Eve, how in the world are you? I haven’t seen you since last fall.”
She raised herself up and saw me and said without turning, “Hello!”
And as she turned, she came toward me with this look of empathetic anxiety written on her face, both arms half-stretched above her head, and with her shoulders sort of forward-like. At that time she said, “Oh, how are you?”
I answered, “Fine,” then came the mysterious, “Oh, I’m so terribly sorry.”
“Oh?” was about all I could reply.
“Yes,” she said, “Anna told me.”
“Well, what did she say?”
“That Elisabeth has died.”
“Yes, she died,” and she followed that with, “Didn’t she die?”
My reply may have startled her, because I said, “Well, I don’t know, but if she did, it would have to have been in the last 6 or 7 minutes.”
“Oh, you mean it’s not true. I’ll have to tell Anna.”
We had a few words more, and I said, “Well, I’ll see you on my return trip, I just have to walk up to Lorenzo’s. I haven’t seen you for a while and we can have a chat.”
“That would be fine; I’ll be here digging in the garden.”
As I took my first few steps, she said, “And I’ll tell Anna!”
“No,” I said, “please don’t tell Anna. I’d like to be able to tell her myself.”
I suppose that may not have been the best thing to do, but it was rather a light moment out of what would of course been a terrible grief, and I really would like to see Anna’s face when I tell her that Elisabeth is still with us. Perhaps we should put Elisabeth in the wheelchair and go out on a walk with her and ring her doorbell to announce the good news. It’s a funny thing that when I went on this walk, Kea had mentioned that I should take Elisabeth with me, and I regretfully said no because there was a little chill in the wind and I didn’t think Elisabeth would particularly enjoy it.
I made my round to Lorenzo’s, but I was too late to catch him, so in a sense the walk was unnecessary, but it is a walk that will ever be a memory for me and perhaps a story to tell to a few friends. On my return I had a few moments with Eve and we will get together for tea in the near future. She also allowed that it was Avon who lives across the street who had told Anna, who in turn had told Eve. One strange thing about that scenario is that I only met Avon once and that at her mailbox. She is a recent transplant from Cape Cod, and so I invited her to come have coffee or something with us, but as of yet it has not materialized.
One might say that there was irony in this interchange for had an early morning event on Memorial Day taken a different route my response to Eve would have radically changed. For that morning Elisabeth was being helped by Carrie to consume her normal breakfast of two eggs and a half an avocado—the standard for the last few years—when all of a sudden she leaned towards the left—quit chewing—her words as we call them were slurred—her left hand went into a tight fist and the arm slipped off the armrest of the wheelchair.
A number of years ago Elisabeth said to me, “If you ever come in and find me on the floor do not call 911 but sit down and wait and hour and see how things are. Of course most emergency events occur on weekends or holidays when finding a doctor outside of the hospital ER or through the ‘on call’ answering service of your normal doctor is near impossible as it was on that morning. We moved into the living room to wait a bit. Carrie who is with us is also an RN and thought that it might be a TIA and I agreed from the bit I know. Also Elisabeth years ago had had a CT scan which showed a past TIA but as to how many years ago – no telling.
In an hour or so on that morning she began to regain her composure and was able to move her arm as well. Throughout the day she seemed normal. The following morning she was much more lethargic than normal and that her left leg was not as strong as it had been. Melody who is an RN and neighbor came over; did the vitals as had Carrie and then called a doctor that she knew and he suggested ER and thus began a tour of a week, returning home only to have another repeat trip to ER as we couldn’t seem to keep her hydrated.
At our first visit it had been confirmed that Elisabeth had indeed had a light TIA. A second scan revealed a bit of pneumonia. After a course of pills and further care we were able to check out and return to the Cove.
Since then we have been able to keep Elisabeth hydrated. Her appetite is not what it was and her snooze time, as she sits in the living room rocker, has drifted from the morning only into the early afternoon hours which were her alert time. We hope in the near days she will receive her strength back. Her clear blue eyes still ‘speak’ and her smile when she gives it is still warm and loving but not so readily given as before.
For the nights that she was in the hospital I slept next to her on a quite comfortable recliner for two reasons; if anything happened at night I would want to be there rather than home only to receive a call to come also that she was not alone in the waking hours of breaking dawn when to quote her “when molehills can seem like mountains”.
Yes, had the outcome been different, my response to Eve would have been totally different on that afternoon’s walk to Lorenzo’s.
Thank God for His mercy and for Carrie and Kea, two loving and wonderful caregivers who in turn came to the hospital and did most of the ‘one on one’ feeding process except for breakfast.
God bless y’all and that’s it from The Cove.
Lars & Elisabeth