back to top

Miz Flora and Miz Anderson

by Lucky Garvin

Miz Flora.

She would come to our emergency department perhaps two or three times per week. At fifty years of age, she had a progressive cirrhosis that you don’t get from drinking alcohol; and she suffered diabetes, strokes, heart trouble with by-pass surgery, breast cancer, and other diseases. Her body would so swell with edema she could hardly walk; fluid denied breath to her lungs. In her child-like innocence, she would say to me, “I’m afraid, Dr. Garvin. Please give me my fluid medicine.”

She was short and dumpy and often expressionless.  [Did I mention she was also schizophrenic?]  But, without question, Miz Flora was one of the sweetest patients I’ve ever treated. Unable by art or intellect to understand why she was dying, she came to us like Dorothy went to Oz. We were the wizards, you see; the keepers of electuraries and incantations. We could save her. We could make things right.

Her husband, Mr. Deitz, was a grizzled, non-verbal sawmill hand with no education he could recall. I never saw him without scuffed workboots and a faded denim jacket. He brought his wife forty miles to the hospital day or night whenever she needed it; stayed with her however long it took; remained in her room with her if admitted, took her home if she wasn’t. We explained what was wrong; he never understood. He thumbed through his Reader’s Digest and waited for our verdict: admit her or take her home. He was Daddy and husband and friend all rolled into one.

We would give her diuretics to relieve her body’s burdens. Sometimes it would work on the way home. She’d wet the seat of his car. “It’s all right then,” he’d tell her. He’d escort her into the house; wipe up his car, sleep an hour and head out to work cutting logs.

Not long ago, her breathing got labored; worse than usual. He drove her to a small hospital near home; time was short, he’d never seen her this bad.  I can see him driving through the night with silent determination to get his wife some help, perhaps one hand on the wheel, the other trying to comfort her.

He wasn’t in time.

Mrs. Anderson.

After years of people thinking she was merely odd, dementia took recognizable shapein Mrs. Anderson. She came to me three days after she decided to simply stop talking or even looking at anyone; including her husband of fifty years. He sat watchful at her bedside throughout her long work-up. Every so often he would jump up to straighten her sheets or cover her feet. “Are you cold, honey?” “You can talk, can’t you, baby? Can’t you talk to me?” His solicitude was not newly-born. He sought, in his helpless way, to look after her as he always had.

He was a commonplace man; bald and mystified.

I told him what was wrong. Stroke. Dementia. Lying there staring. Never be the same again. He kept glancing past me to be sure she didn’t need anything. Then he said, “So when can I take her home?” He’ll look after her. Always has.

These two men are invisible. Match them with their wives and they’d be too plain for packaging; too commonplace to conjure visions of romance. We admire devotion, but  prefer it attractively displayed. Our princes must be lean and dark; our ladies willowy and winsome. These two couples are far too ordinary to move us to song or verse. There’s no `Love Story’ here; nothing that would sell anyway. But I’ve learned that perfected love dwells in these unexpected places . . . In these beautiful simple hearts.

Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles