The blue and white 57’ Chevy loomed in the subconscious of my mind as I stared at the faded photo of my father leaning back with a cheeky grin on his face and his lanky arm slung comfortably around my mother’s shoulders. She had her face half-turned towards him, her face lit up with a smile. The picture was probably taken by a relative; I couldn’t tell who had taken the picture, no written note on the backside. I traced the outline of his face with my index finger, hoping I could pull memories by magic from the photo. None came until I heard the phone ring. Beep. Beeeep. Whoever it was, he or she surely wasn’t patient. Beep. Beeeeeeep. Mom had always cautioned me, patience is a virtue, whether if I liked hearing it or not.
“Pamela, it is your Dad.” I heard the awkward catch in my father’s voice. Was he in trouble? I felt the edge of worry seeping in. I paused, knowing my father wouldn’t appreciate me nosing around and asking questions. I could see his face in my mind; his green eyes that he passed to my brother Billy and me, the frown he usually wore when he was disturbed about something.
“Dad, are you okay…” I trailed off slowly while I placed the photo back on the countertop.
“I have bad news, dear girl. I think you better sit down.”
“Dad, what is it? You can tell me.”
“Your mother is in the hospital.” He paused. I knew he was rubbing his forehead with his hand, a lifelong habit of his when he was stressed. “It’s bad, Pam. She had a stroke. You better get down here.”
I gasped, dropping the phone out of my hand. I leaned over the sink; my chest felt like a thousand anvils had fallen on me. I heard a faint echo and realized Dad was still speaking. I grabbed the dangling phone and replied quickly before Dad thought I had hung up on him, “Daddy, I’m coming.” The door slammed behind me as I ran toward my car.
The next hour was a blur, a moment stretched to the limit- where everything converged into a single focus; I had to get to Lufton General Hospital. Even when it meant plowing through the yellow lights before they turned green, dodging slow cars, and few desperate moments where I wanted to scream at the drivers. My mother’s in the hospital! Move. Mo-ve. I whispered, pleaded, whined, and sighed the prayers in a mumbling rush. I was afraid to discover what I would see at the hospital. Billy approached me when I rushed into the waiting room. His eyes were red and looked like he had been rubbing them with sandpaper. He held out his arms and I fell into them, whimpering. I could sense Gloria nearby. I peeked over Billy’s shoulder, looking for Dad. I couldn’t find him.
“Where’s Daddy? I don’t see him.”
“He’s in the room with Mom. They wheeled her out. He wanted me to come down and wait for you.”
“Do you know what happened?” I felt him slide away and I felt bereft already after just several minutes being held by my older brother.
He glanced at Gloria. I waited but not for long.
“Um- not much, actually. Dad just ordered me to come here. All I know is that Mom collapsed and Dad had to call for an ambulance.”
The journey to the room where Mom was in and where Dad was probably pacing the floor, driving the nurse to tears, was the longest walk in my life. Room 211. Billy opened the door. I rushed past him and saw Dad sitting in a chair closest to Mom’s bed. I noticed his hand was resting on hers. He looked up, his green eyes solemn as he searched my face. For what, I wasn’t sure.
“ Oh, Pamela.” He reached out for me. I took my dad in an embrace; I could feel the tightness in my throat.
“Is Mom going to be ok?” I asked. I looked at Dad who had gone back sitting in the chair, keeping a vigil over her. I couldn’t help but remember the picture I had held only hours ago of them so young and so happy.
Dad rubbed his forehead and let out a loud sigh.
I took few steps over to him. Threw my arm around his shoulders and whispered, “We will pray, Dad, together.”
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