Why anyone ever thought the main entrance and exit to a small townís only hospital should involve such a fancy set-up was always a mystery to me. I had plenty of time to ponder the strange gateway to basic medical care as I sat at the front desk of that serious looking brick building, dispensing information day after day--year after year.
When things were slow I often thought, I should write a book, but then the activities of daily humdrum would intrude and I would get out of the notion until yet another interesting thing would happen I could take home to share with my sick mother. She looked forward to hearing some of the silliness that intruded on my work day.
That ridiculous revolving door seemed to have a mind of its own. Staff or long term visitors would hit the thing and never break stride as they continued to their destination. First time door people might hesitate, unsure how the glass contraption worked.
My favorite tongue biting times were when folks couldnít seem to get the hang of stopping the revolution. One second they would be on their way in, and the next right back outside. Over the years, I have had to get off my front row perch and rescue more than one caught in a circle of confusion.
Mothers have been known to scream in terror when the child would somehow end up in one part of the door process and she in another. I have seen a giggling kid make a good three rounds before he was captured from what he must have thought was some kind of scaled down carousel.
Although itís not official scientific or social research, I have noticed a direct correlation to a personís true self by watching this facilityís spinning portal. When Miss Gladys came to see her sister, I would hold my breath, hoping she could shuffle through before that fast walking and arrogant Mr.Get-Outta-My-Way barreled in for his five-minute obligatory visit to his moribund and excessively rich wife. I could see who was waiting for him in that tacky sports car. He never spoke, but he knew that I knew what he was up to, and that was enough. What he didnít figure wasÖ God knew too.
One of the most poignant situations unfolded like an unbelievable, novice-written script. Gordon, a young man from my church, hurried through the eternally moving door to tell me his beloved grandmother was on the fourth floor, too weak to continue her life on this earth, yet fully cognizant of her surroundings.
On Monday, Gordonís wife was admitted to the third floor in anticipation of their first blessed event. By Tuesday night, she was still caught in a labor dispute with her body and their long awaited daughter. Poor fellow would run up to the fourth floor to check on his Grandma Julia, and then sprint down the back stairs to Obstetrics to be with his wife. The drama between life trying to leave and life trying to be born gave me enough material to reconsider that book idea. It was a priceless metaphor playing out right in my little world. It got even better though.
Sometime after midnight on Wednesday, as Gordon held the hand of the mother of his mother, she smiled and slipped away to her new beginning on the other side of an invisible veil we reach through faith . As she drew her last breath, his pager beeped with an immediate summons to the third floor.
He told me he ran down the stairs, skipping two at a time, and burst into the birthing room, barely gowned and masked, in time to hear the sweet cry of his babyís indignation at being thrust into a cold and unfamiliar place. Of all the lessons an old revolving door can offer to a wanna-be-author (who ponders more than actually writes) that had to be the winner.
On going-home day, Gordon brought the newborn by to meet me. They had named her Julia.
Thereís a rumor the hospital is planning to remove the old door and install a fancy one that opens by itself. I guess it will be easier for folks to stay untangled and on the path to their starts or finishes or in-betweens.
In a way, Iím glad Iíve retired and wonít have to witness its last twirl. Besides, with all the wonderful revolving lessons in beginnings and endings, I have a book to write.
Note: The grandmother/new baby story is true. It happened to a man who sang tenor behind me in choir. Also, our local hospital has a revolving door and a regular automatic sliding one right beside it. Go figure.
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