Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks for me, but I haven’t made any trips “pretty”.
A bit over a week ago, my wife got the message that her mother was in the ICU in Missoula Montana. She had gone in for what was supposed to be a relatively simple procedure to have a heart valve repaired/replaced. It was supposed to be one of those deals where they make a small incision, snake a bunch of fancy equipment and cameras up through that small hole, and do the whole thing without really having to cause major trauma to her. Well, so much for that plan, because apparently the area around that heart valve was deteriorated to the point where they had to crack her chest wide open to work on it. After that, my mother in law has just flat failed to recover – her heart is unstable, and she can’t breath on her own. The one night that they removed the breathing tube from her throat she required twenty minutes of CPR to bring her back, and it’s all been down hill since then. Having expected this to be a simple in and out thing, no one had prepared to be there with her, and so now she was in a life or death situation, alone in an ICU, and the better part of a thousand miles away from us. I arranged to fly my wife and then her sister up to be with their mom for a week or so, and so one fine morning I found myself escorting my wife up to the Delta airlines counter. Talk about weird! I had to grin when Mona, my favorite Delta customer service representative approached us.
“Hi Mona, this is my wife Dawn. Dawn, this is the lady I was telling you about who has always been so very nice to me.” I introduced them to each other.
“Oh, so your Mrs Matthew then?” Mona replied with a laugh.
“Yeah, that’s me!” My wife laughed.
As she started to process the boarding passes, Mona gave me a confused look.
“So you’re not going with her?” She asked.
“Nah, I’ve had enough of this traveling stuff. I’ve decided that from now on, I’m shipping the wife out instead!”
THAT got a real laugh from both of them.
I walked my wife up to the TSA security point just to be with her and to give her some moral support, and when I was allowed to go no further I just stood there and watched her make her way through the process. Ya know she never once looked back at me?
Well, I made my way back home where my children and I were facing the next five days on our own. It hadn’t actually occurred to me until that point, but in all of these years, I have never been left alone with, and completely responsible for, my own children for more than a few hours at a time. This was gonna be a learning experience for all involved! Just to make things a bit more interesting, my two year old decided to choose that very morning to get sick. . .
Well my wife made it all right, my children and I survived our week together, but my mother in law has made very little improvement. Unfortunately we cant afford to pay for hotels, rental cars, and food indefinitely, and so my poor wife did have to leave her mother in her sister and uncles care, and return home. That was about a week ago, and my mother in law STILL hasn’t made any progress recovering. . .
This week I went to Detroit again, but I was flat out exhausted from the prior week with my mother in law’s situation and so I didn’t take a single pretty thing with me. Much to my surprise though, the young lady behind the counter at the Holiday Inn recognized me from one of my previous stays. This kind of surprised me as I had always checked in as Kimberly and wasn’t sure if she really knew what I looked like as a male. I had no trouble at all recognizing her though, as we had had quite a pleasant chat on one of my previous visits. Her name is Sheryl and she has greeted me every single time with a smile and a friendly word and this time was no different. After she got me all checked in, there was no one waiting for her help so we chatted for just a minute, and I told her about my mother in law, spending the week with my children, and that quite honestly I was looking forward to a quiet evening to collapse.
“So, do you go to work like ‘that’?” she asked.
“Oh no, that would be a real quick way for me to go unemployed! I just travel and spend my off hours this way.” I replied.
“So what does your wife think about this?”
“She is OK with it. She doesn’t really like it, but she doesn’t hate it, and as long as it makes me happy she seems willing to put up with it.”
“So does she see you like that much?” she asked.
“No, not often. I usually try to get ready and be out of the house before she or the children get up.”
At this she just kind of smiled for a moment, and then she really surprised me.
“I am SO proud of you!” she said.
“Oh my God, why?!” I asked her.
“Well, because you manage to live your life and still be respectful to those that love you!”
That one left me speechless for a moment.
“Well thank you . . . I think . . . “ I replied and we both laughed.
“You know, I’ve got to tell you, you look pretty darn good!”
“Thank you! Not too bad for a tired, ugly, old man huh?”
“Well, I think you look sexy as hell like that!” she told me with a wink, and then turned to greet the customer that had come in behind me.
Oh – I took a customer survey form from her and filled it out, making sure to mention her by name. :)