Saturday, July 10, 2010
“When will they call?”
“After the surgery, I guess.”
“Uh-huh.” Michael looked up over his coffee mug at the ticking kitchen clock – an owl with moving eyes. He’d never liked that thing. Not since his wife had brought it home from a yard sale. “It’s watching me, Evelyn. I don’t like the look it’s giving me.” “Oh don’t be silly! It’s made of plastic. It’s kitsch. And a bargain at $11.” Evelyn, the poor woman, had a sixth sense for yard sales; she could divine a sale blocks away, but she never got a good deal. Eleven dollars? For that? Michael had thought when he saw it.
“He said she might get sick. After.” Evelyn was folding, unfolding and re-folding her paper napkin, a little pillow of pale blue, then a quilt with squares, then a pillow again.
“Who said, dear?”
“The doctor. He said, you know when he walked us to the lobby and I asked how soon after mother’s surgery could we see her?”
“Yes, yes. The lobby.”
“I don’t want to get in the way, but I do want mother to see someone’s there when she wakes up.”
“Sure, that’s fine.”
Michael patted his wife’s forearm, a tap, Morse code – relax, please, relax. He knew not to say the words. That, he’d learned early in their marriage. To say “relax” to Evelyn was like funneling ten thousand volts through her brain. It served its opposite purpose. Few words and a steady, reassuring presence was the way to say “relax” to her. He pulled her empty coffee mug across the table and rose to refill it. She said nothing and kept at folding and unfolding and re-folding her napkin.
“Ev, I don’t mind waiting for the call. You can rest your eyes some and I’ll come get – “
Her expression silenced him. Of course, Michael thought, I am ridiculous for suggesting that. It just came out, like something a character in a movie might say. The truth was he didn’t expect Evelyn’s mother would survive the surgery but he promised himself he would stay up all night until the phone rang.