I spent the night with my mom the other night in the hospital.
As I watched her sleep, I wondered how many nights she stared at me while I was asleep. Wondering what was going on in my sleeping mind. Worried about my future. For anyone keeping score, a rough guess would have our tally at several thousand nights to one, her holding the slight lead.
Over the course of her stay, when I’ve been in the room, she tells any nurse that comes in that I’m her son and I’m a police officer. More than one of them have asked me if I was Toby, just based off that introduction.
Depending on who else is in the room, she’ll say, “These are my sons, that’s my daughter-in-law, and those are my grandkids.” The nurses know if the 24-hour snack station is full that her sister has been by recently. Whoever is in the room at the time gets the same proud introduction.
The night I stayed with her, a nurse came in and asked if she had been down to dialysis that day. She couldn’t remember. She can remember her family without skipping a beat, but one question about her and she isn’t sure.
It’s the way she has lived her life — at least the 43 years that we’ve been acquainted. Putting all of us ahead of her. And, based on her reputation with those who have known her longer than I, she has always put her family ahead of herself.
I was scrolling through the TV channels trying to find cooking shows for her. (She keeps the TV on all night.) I came across “The Andy Griffith Show” and stopped there. If there’s one show on earth that takes precedence over all other shows, it’s “Andy Griffith.” It was an episode that had Barney in a dress and Ernest T. Bass up to something.
After that, “Everybody Loves Raymond” came on. So that’s how I spent my night in the hospital with her — watching TV Land and listening to her laugh along.
I arrived that night at the hospital thinking I was doing something for someone else. I planned to sleep on a couch/cot and wake up every hour or so as nurses came in to check vitals or get blood.
As is so often the case, I realized I was the one gaining something here, and I strongly suspect that night will be a night I cherish for the rest of my life.