Saturday, February 15, 2014


My husband and I never actually go out on February 14th. We make it a point to celebrate a day or two early to avoid jacked up prices, long waits, and crowds. Valentines Day is the Disney World of holidays. But this year some friends of ours who are having problems (the problem is that they're married) had invited us to go out with them. We felt obligated since the husband's effort would have to fall under the category of "last ditch." He wanted to see a play and go to dinner so my husband suggested our favorite restaurant near the theatre so as to ease the pain of awkwardness for me.


My mother has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks and starting on this past Monday they began  saying she could go home any day. My past experiences with my mother and hospital discharges are legendary in their length, confusion, and stress. Knowing this,  every day I would clear my calendar for the next day. Tuesday: "We are going to put her on an IV drip to strengthen her heart." Wednesday: "We want to keep her a couple of more days." Thursday: "Might be tomorrow." I had been to her apartment to pack her a bag and get documentation she might need to go to a "rehab facility" for a week or so. In case you don't know what "rehab facility" means, it's a nursing home.

Friday (Valentines Day) came and the rain poured. I showered, dressed, called my mom to see if the doctor had been in, and generally played the part of the concerned responsible daughter. I took a little afternoon nap in anticipation of our late night at the theater. My husband had gone out to hit some golf balls and called to tell me there was a change in plans. Our friend, it seems had gone to the theater ON THE DAY of the show and tried to get tickets. They didn't have two seats together anywhere, let alone four, so he didn't buy them. Plan B was a dinner theater in a community center in an adjacent small town.

I'm nothing if not adaptable. I mentally shifted gears from Monty Python's Spamalot at a real theatre to something called Love Letters at a community center.

I called to check on my mother at 3:30. She hadn't heard from the doctor so I relaxed a little. She didn't seem to think they'd send her home at this point. Twenty minutes later, her nurse called to say that Ms. K has been discharged and I should come and get her. I explained that she was going to rehab and not going home. The confusion was solved and I was told that yes, indeed, she would be transported by ambulance to rehab.

I'd been waiting all week to hear from the nursing home and of course now at 4:00 on a Friday, in a pouring rain, on a night when we actually have plans that involve other people, I have to go fill out endless paperwork. My husband called to explain the situation to our friends. We'd try to get there in time for the show. The admissions director gave us a nice tour and introduced us to the staff who would be taking care of our "loved one." I tried to act like I was interested but I was really thinking that I could have booked a 7 day cruise while she was tucked away safely and no one would have missed me.

As my husband and I were leaving he nudged me. "Look." I followed his gaze. Down a long corridor there were 6 or 7 women in wheelchairs s-l-o-w-l-y making their way back to their rooms from the dining room. It was equal parts funny and depressing. As we headed for the door my husband called our friends to say we were leaving the nursing home. He responded "You are coming to another one."

After an hour long drive in rush hour traffic and getting lost in a town so small you can't believe that can actually happen, we arrived at the correct place, were met at the door and our friend walked with us to our table. We were committing the worst theatre faux pas: arriving late and disrupting the show. Naturally our table (turns out it was a dinner theater production) was right down front. As I glanced around in the darkness I understood his comment about coming to a nursing home. We were by far the youngest people there, a point made clear by our lack of wheelchairs and walkers. At one point the character of Andy writes that he is using his father's Parker 51 fountain pen. "I had one of those pens!" an old guy in the audience says far too loudly to his table.

At intermission the other couple at our table wanted to chat. My friend whispered to me that the man had done nothing but talk about himself during dinner. "Most of the people in this room know who I am." He was wearing a tie pin with his name on it. Then aloud she said "He does magic tricks, he showed us about 15 during dinner." He didn't seem to pick up on the sound of irritation in her voice." He asked if we had any kids under 12 because he had free tickets to the circus which he waved in his hand. I said that we didn't and asked him how good a magician he could be if he couldn't conjure up some kids to take to the circus.

 Did I mention we swung by the house and I made myself a drink which I drank in the car and that I hadn't had any dinner?

After intermission was over we noticed that about half the crowd had left. It was 8:00 and judging by the empty Coke cans and half eaten desserts on the tables it had already been a pretty wild night for them. During the second act I heard several sounds I desperately hoped were snores. The show, which is the best acting gig ever for actors with bad memories, was pretty good. There was some talk about getting coffee after but let's be honest, I wanted to go to a bar. My friend was exhausted from her long work week and texted that they were bailing and heading for home. We headed to our neighborhood sushi bar. It was packed and we didn't feel like waiting for a spot at a bar at this point. My husband raised an eyebrow and pointed to the Kroger next door. "Yes. Let's get some Mexican Coke to mix whiskey with" I suggested. As we wondered the aisles under tired fluorescent we could not stop laughing at just how badly the evening had turned out. Eventually we made our way home, mixed up some cocktails and watched a few Modern Family reruns. It was the only part of the night that was perfect.

The evening was a disaster but will probably be one of the few Valentines Days we actually remember.

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