Things That Always Happen to Other People

My son-in-law, Fran Brickner, the husband of our eldest daughter Rosalie, came as pre-arranged to pick me up at ten o'clock on Saturday morning on September 27, 1969. The two of us were about the business of taking Rosalie to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital on the advice of her doctor, who had made all of the arrangements. The Clinic Hospital was expecting her at 1:00 P.M. as a transfer from our own Mercy Hospital here in Tiffin, Ohio.

With all of the good-byes and prayers of the Sisters and Nurses, and the knowledge that she had already received the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church, we proceeded to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital with our precious little patient in the back of Fran's brand new station wagon, resting on a foam rubber mattress and pillows that her husband had prepared for her comfort. But I had also brought a special pillow of fine goose down for her, and not wanting to hurt my feelings, Fran graciously let me put it with the rest. As we drove swiftly on our route it poured down rain every inch of the way, and I would look up at the sky and think, " Even the heavens are crying."

She was so sick that from time to time I would kneel backwards on the front seat where I was sitting to assist her and try to make her more comfortable.

When this whole thing started over a year before, she complained of pains in her stomach and was under the care of one of the physicians in our community, but she did not get any better. Each time she would go to him, he became more confused with her case and decided with her and Fran's permission to call in another doctor for consultation. This was done, but after all of the testing and X-rays were finished, and they showed nothing, she became despondent and said to me, "Mom, am I losing my mind? These pains are real to me." At this point I tried to coax her into having an exploratory operation, but to this she only replied," I feel foolish enough."

Then in June of 1969 she and Fran were busy planning and putting on a graduation party for Mike Prenzlin, Fran's nephew and godchild, who made his home with them ever since he was in the third grade. And now here was Mike already graduating from high school and so tall that by this time his "Aunt Rose" had to look up to him. May I add at this time that Rose always said Mike was much more help to her than bother, and although she was only twelve years older than he, she truly felt like his mother, and even confided to me one day that if and when Mike ever got married, she would proudly walk up the church aisle as the mother of the groom.

Now, back to the party. When we arrived at their home, nearly all of the guests were already there. I took one look at Rose and realized she didn't feel well at all., so I took her aside and asked her what the matter was. She said she thought she was coming down with the flu, and since it was a Sunday she and Fran thought it best to wait and call the doctor in the morning for an appointment. Still seeing the question in my eyes., she hurried to explain that they would have postponed this party until another time but all of the food had been bought. Fran had told her that if she would just make the salad, he and Mike could carry off the rest because the men were barbecueing the chicken outdoors. Rose herself was in bed most of the day.

Well., as it happened, after the doctor checked her over the next day, he discovered she had hepatitis, and he promptly put her in isolation at Mercy Hospital. She stayed in that little room for three weeks. Only the family was permitted to go in and we had to scrub and put on hospital gowns. Then when we came out we took off the gowns and put them in a special laundry chute, and then scrubbed again.

After Rose was released from the hospital this time, she wasn't well, but she seemed in better spirits than I had seen her in a long time. Her appointments with her doctor during the summer were very frequent and he kept a very close check on her.

To any of my readers who are acquainted with hepatitis, yes, indeed, every guest who had been at that graduation party had to go and get shots, and there were so many that the Red Cross had to have serum brought in.

Then came the Labor Day weekend and the family wanted to take the camper and go camping just once before winter set in. The children promised that they and Daddy would do all of the work if Mommie would please try to go along. And so they all went and they all kept their word.

But during September Rose continued to lose weight and the pains in her stomach would not let up. Then on the eighteenth she kept her doctor's appointment. He discovered that her liver had hardened and other things had occurred since her last visit to him, all pointing to a very grave condition. It was at this time he suggested the Cleveland Clinic Hospital. Fran was out of town on business, but the doctor talked with him by long distance and then called Cleveland. They informed him that it would be eight days before they would have a bed available, but they wanted her there by 1:00 P.M. on September 27.

Before she left the doctor's office, Rose asked him if she could go to her brother Nick's wedding the next evening at Saint Mary's Church. He looked at her very doubtfully, but she hurried to explain that it was to be a small affair; the brideís father had passed away during the early part of the year and for that reason they were keeping it simple. So he gave his consent, but only if she remained in bed all day and she must sit through everything.

I had taken her for this doctor's appointment and when she got out of the car I said, "Now when you are finished call me and Iíll come and get you." She nodded her head in agreement. But she didnít call. Finally when she did, she said, "Iím home. I thought it was too close to your supper time, so I called a cab." I accepted that and didn't suspect anything until the next morning, Fran came to our house and told us all that the doctor told him, because he was worried. He explained that Rose didn't want me to see how concerned she herself was, and so that was the reason she took the cab home, instead of having me come to get her from the doctor's office.

On Tuesday of the next week the doctor thought it advisable for her to be in Mercy Hospital until her departure for the Cleveland Clinic on Saturday.

While she was at the hospital in town, I went to visit every day but just for short periods because I knew she was too sick, and needed the rest. But one afternoon Father Kevin Ricker, a young assistant at our parish, came to visit. While I was acquainted with this young priest through other channels, Rose knew him as head of the Cub Scout program at our parish, and Rose was one of his den mothers. We had a good time explaining our mother-daughter relationship to him, of which he was not aware.

Rose's sister Marilyn came eighteen miles from Fremont every day to visit just a short time with her beloved older sister, because with her own little ones she realized the visits to Cleveland would be very difficult. Two of Rose's closest girl friends also came and stayed with her the afternoon before she left. Rose had been the attendant of one of them on the stage of the Ursuline School of Music, when her friend graduated in voice, back in their high school days.

Her father came to see her on Thursday evening and in his quiet loving way told her he did not come to talk or visit, but just to be near her for a little while.

When her sister Betty came to say good-bye and speedy recovery, Rose, who was Betty's godmother, said, "Betty, take care of your health while you still have it,"

Then just before our journey to Cleveland, her two neighbors said they just had to see her before she left, and she confided to them that she felt she would never come back.

On this journey her persistent headache seemed to be giving her more trouble than the pains in her stomach, and each bump in the road made her flinch. The pain was almost unbearable when the car had to stop for a red light.

As we drove up to the admittance entrance, Rose insisted that I locate her comb before she would let them take her out of the station wagon and put her on the stretcher. As sick as she was, she was this meticulous about her appearance.

When they transferred her to the stretcher, she said, "Oh, my head! There is no pillow," So I quickly grabbed my pillow and tucked it under her head, and I could see relief in her eyes.

After we were inside waiting for her to be assigned to a room., and Fran was taking the car out of the entranceway and putting it in the hospital parking lot., Rose said, "Mom, when I get well I am going to learn how to drive a car, like you wanted me to before I got married."

Then finally, after much red tape, she was admitted to a room on the fifth floor, which was a semi-private. The lady in the other bed wanted to talk constantly about her own ailments, and when Fran leaned down to ask Rose if she wanted anything, she said, "Yes, Fran, make that woman keep still." I made a move to draw the curtain between, but Fran shook his head and frowned, so I knew he meant that he was afraid the lady's feelings would be hurt. So I walked over to her and said, " We have not been very considerate of you. After all, you are sharing your room with my daughter and here we are talking and keeping you awake, You must be tired." With that I drew the curtain and said, "Now you lie back and we will try to be a little more quiet. If you want anything we will be right here." Rose, bless her heart, closed her eyes and sighed.

After many hours of waiting, which I understand is customary in a hospital of that size, a doctor came in an went over her very carefully. As we already knew, he told us she was a gravely sick girl. But because of the time of night, he advised us to go to our motel and come back in the morning; that she would be under close watch all night.

So without too much ado we departed with a promise to her that we would be back the first thing in the morning.

These two people who were so close to that young woman on the fifth floor of the hospital clinic wearily trudged to the station wagon, still parked in the hospital parking lot. Fran said, " Mom, would you like to get something to eat? " I nodded my head, since neither of us had anything to eat since an early morning breakfast and it was now nearly eleven o'clock at night.

With his expert ease of handling a car in large city traffic, Fran swung the new station wagon out into the night, and then we noticed a large motel sign about a half a mile away. My son-in-law looked in my direction and asked, " OK? " and again I nodded in agreement.

We were happy to find that they had a little lunch counter still open., though the dining room was closed. But we both had a sandwich. I had coffee and Fran had a beer. Knowing from past experience how hard it is to sleep in a strange bed, I had foresight enough to bring along a small bottle of nonprescription sleeping tablets, which I promptly offered my companion. He grinned for the first time that day and holding up his beer he said, "This will relax me just fine."

We parked the station wagon in the underground garage. I helped lock up the car. Because of the rain we didnít take into the hospital all of the things that Fran had brought along for Rose.

And so we signed in at the motel, I was given room 819 and Fran got 820.

(End of Chapter 1)

I Love You, Mom