If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Wednesday, October 13

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I sat in the room realizing that it was nicer than most hospital waiting rooms in which I have spent time. There was actually carpet on the floor, comfortable chairs and benches, lamps, and pretty pictures. It could almost be a doctor's office waiting room. But it wasn't. There was still the unmistakable fluorescent overhead lighting, the awkward set up with rows of people sitting back to back, the absence of a clock.

To my right was a small wooden desk where a tall, thin, well dressed lady sat answering phones and directing traffic. I momentarily wished I were tall, thin, and well dressed. She wore her hair cropped short, the style I want to wear in my later years, with a large pair of silvery leaf-shaped earrings that shimmered in the overhead lighting.  At the back of the room, in a little corner, there was a cheap coffee maker chugging away–brewing a new pot of delicious smelling but acrid coffee. And next to that, the unmarked door.

At long last we were taken by the willowy lady to the room with the unmarked door to receive an update on my father. The three of us sat sequestered in the small room for 20 minutes before the surgeon made it to hand over our update. My brother is completely devoted to my dad. He looked so nervous and upset. My mom looked so small. So scared, helpless almost. That was hard for me, she is so in control of everything and everyone in her life. She is always so demanding and outspoken, it is always a shock seeing her be so submissive to anyone. Finally the surgeon comes in and, without even taking a seat, gives us the news. He made it through surgery, he is going not to the ICU but a private room, he would have a long recovery but should be fine, the biopsy will not be back until Friday.

We return to the waiting room after about a 5 minute information session. Upon leaving the room, without other things on my mind, I look around this waiting room. The surgical waiting room. People are clustered together in small and large family "groups". Our little group of 3 is smaller than most, but no different.  Then, I notice the clear plastic bags. They contain whatever clothing and shoes the patient was wearing upon arriving at the hospital. Each group has a bag sitting on the perimeter, waiting to be reclaimed. Something about it strikes me as being somehow sad, and I feel tears welling up. It makes me think of hope. Just sitting there, we all have hope.

I watch a large group to my right, across from the desk lady. The three men are obviously brothers, they look too much alike not to be. They are in their 40's I would guess, and I spend time watching their group. The older man across from them has to be the father, so I make the conclusion that it is probably mom who is having surgery, though I really have nothing to back it up. There are 3 women who are likely their wives, although one of them I am thinking is a sister, same nose and mouth. You can tell by looking at the brothers that they all work in different areas of life. One is wearing a business suit and attached to his Blackberry. Another has khakis and a golf shirt on with work boots, the third jeans. I have to smile at the interaction of the group. They seem to be a close family and are joking, talking and passing the time playing word games. One of the wives is a ringleader of sorts, unable to sit still and constantly stirring up the group. Family dynamics. I feel a pang of, what is that? Jealousy? Regret? Wistful for a sibling who understood me and who I could relate to. Wishing we could carry on games and conversation for 4 hours, have fun together, and stop not knowing each other.

I sit and listen to my mom's chit chat and barely say two words to my brother. We don't ever know what to say to each other. We go eat lunch and he buys lunch for me. Then, we don't talk more at lunch. When we come back the room is ready and we wait there for my dad to be wheeled in, pale and ghostly looking, in a post-op daze but still trying to joke with us. Mom goes immediately to him and assumes her rightful position, bedside, holding his hand.


  1. Prayers and best wishes for your father and the rest of your family.

  2. I slowed down the desperate business voices by closing my office door, eating my black beans and rice slowly, and reading your blog. It was a moment of mindfulness.
    The plastic bags of clothes, elements of industrial pragmatism, reflect patient vulnerability. An important lesson I learned during ministry is that every medical patient needs (maybe must have) someone waiting for them in the waiting room to have the necessary existential reason for hope. Love is so much more than a marketable sentiment.
    Thanks for expressing that so well within your apparent ability to hear the words released in silence.

  3. Thank you P for those beautiful words. I so agree, we all need someone waiting for us, though, don't we? Something to get us not only through surgery but life in general? I appreciate your comments and am thankful to you for slowing down and reading!

  4. Lance, thank you so much. I appreciate the kind words.