There was an episode of Fraser awhile back about memories. Not just any memories, but hospital memories. The show began with Niles in the hospital awaiting bypass surgery, and then as he was slowly being wheeled down the hall into the operating room, each room he passed contained a different memory. You would see a birth, a broken leg, and then a cancer diagnosis. I began thinking about this episode last week when I was in the ER with my son.
It’s been 13 years since I moved from my hometown of Gastonia, NC; but it has once again pulled me home into another chapter of it’s hospital memories. As we sat in the small room waiting for the doctor, I started remembering all the memories contained in this one hospital, Gaston Memorial.
|Gaston Memorial Hospital|
My first memory was when my sister Sarah probably only 3 years old, popped her elbow out of place. Her high pitched screaming drove my frantic mother to the ER. We were new in town, recently moved to the area from Wisconsin. We didn’t have a regular pediatrician, and Sarah’s screams wouldn’t wait for an appointment. It was an easy fix, the skillful doctor wiggled around her elbow and pop; it was back in place. It wouldn’t be our last visit there for Sarah’s elbow, but after multiple visits the doctor finally showed my mom how to remedy the problem.
I had some learning experiences at the hospital too. I became a certified babysitter after completing the babysitter course and then in high school my family living class took a field trip to the hospital’s birthing center. I think it was the nicest way my conservative Christian school could scare us from having sex. They showed us birthing videos (images that you can never erase). It grossed out the boys and the girls were terrified of the pain- those women were screamers.
Other memories, weren’t so lighthearted. My Bubbie. She was a fun lady, and she knew how to throw a party. She was smart and stylish even at 90, but one day she just didn’t feel herself. She was admitted to the hospital, and a couple of days later she passed away. I had seen her hours earlier. We were talking and laughing. She seemed fine. We left for lunch, and then we got the call. She was gone. She wasn’t alone, a nurse was there holding her hand. She didn’t want us to see her go. I know she was probably singing Amazing Grace. My Jewish Bubbie loved the old hymns. I would watch her sing at her retirement home while another played the piano. She was full of life until the end.
It wasn’t all tears at the hospital. We welcomed my sister’s first daughter there. We happened to be in town for Easter that year, and that’s when Lydia arrived. My poor sister labored all through the night until Lydia came in the morning. By this time, there was a new birth center. The one I toured in high school was long gone, and a new wing with new memories had emerged.
Four hours later, we left the hospital. Liam had croup, but was feeling better after having some medicine. As we drove away, I wondered when we would return for more memories. I hope they will be happy.