This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.
Friday, August 3, 2012
The Unbearable Triteness of Blogging
The patient sat silently, staring down at the shoes dangling from the examination table. His wife leafed through the fashion magazine she'd brought along with her from the waiting room.
After a delay, the doctor came in with a laptop tucked under his arm. He sat down and began to peruse the patient's medical record, making a few brief notes with a pencil as he tapped and clicked on the keyboard with his other hand.
Finally, he looked up at the patient.
= It's been eighteen months since your last visit. Everything OK?
The patient shrugged his shoulders but said nothing. The doctor looked over at the woman.
= I should make it mandatory that every man bring his wife along to the appointment. So, whats up with him?
The woman put down the magazine. Tears formed in her eyes.
= He's like this all the time now. He's not working, he's not eating. Nothing seems to interest him. He just sits and stares.
= Still smoking pot?
= He even smokes it while he's driving now! He's been arrested twice this year, once for possession and once for DUI.
= Don't forget to tell him about how I totalled your car when I got drunk...
The doctor made a face.
= Let me make a note of that. Totalled wife's car in drunk driving accident. Accident did not sever vocal chord. Injured?
= No. He passed out at the wheel and ran straight into a wall going forty five miles an hour and walked away unharmed. Thank God no one else was hurt, either.
The doctor stood up with his penlight to begin the routine ear examination.
= Parents still living?
= His father, yes. His mother passed away last summer.
= I remember your mother. I treated her for the flu once, didn't I?
= Very nice woman, your mother. That was many years ago. She seemed healthy at the time. Did she stay in Texas?
= Went back to LA after my son started preschool.
= Cause of death?
= Lung cancer.
= Are you smoking?
= Just the green ones.
= OK, Good. No tobacco products. Did you get a chance to spend time with her at the end?
The patient stopped responding, having vacated the moment. Mom'd been given less than six months after they discovered the cancer had spread to her liver. She held on, cheerfully and brave at first, for two more grotesque years.
Sister became very angry with him when he'd not visited as much as he should have.
= Get your butt on a plane and get out here, Pete. She's only holding on for you now...
He heard a lifetime of accumulated pain in her voice.
When he arrived he instantly wished he hadn't. She was no longer recognizable, a pale, withered, smelly, toothless hag weighing no more than seventy pounds. She was barely conscious at all, and then only for short periods between the moaning and the speaking in tongues to phantoms. She no longer knew her only son.
He sat in the kitchen by himself that night, drinking beer and smoking his nephew's weed, until well after the others had gone to bed. For the first time in his charmed life, he realised there was nothing could be done.
Finally, he tiptoed into the living room dimly lit by the television's gloaming, and knelt before the misshapen mass slumped haphazardly before him in her favorite chair.
He wrapped his arms around her and held on tight. From somewhere far from himself, he heard an urgent voice take command.
= Let's go, mom. It's time to go. Everybody's waiting for us back home.
She stirred slightly and buried her head under his chin. They stayed entwined for as long as he could stand it. Her breathing began to labour. Reluctantly, he let go and sat back in the sofa along the opposite wall. The coo-coo clock chimed thrice.
Sometime before daylight, she slipped away.