Saturday, February 12, 2005

Yeah, about small towns in the South . . .

My grandmother's still in the hospital. My mom and I flew down Thursday night to visit her and have been checking in during visiting hours ever since. Yesterday morning, she was doing great. Today a little less so. Her wrists are restrained because otherwise she pulls out the tube going down to her stomach, but she's not too happy about the confinement. Have I mentioned yet that she's fiercy independent? Fierce like she got into a fistfight with the nurse when she tried to change my grandmother's bandages. Fierce like she doesn't think we should be staying at the hotel we're in and was busy trying to get us to move. Fierce and almost 90 years old and not keen on being tied down. Hopefully, the restraints can come off soon.

The most amazing thing about being down here isn't the hospital though, or the doctors and nurses, or even the bizarre task of filling a day in a waiting room. It's the people who have come to take care of her. To put this in perspective, my grandparents moved to this town about 35 years ago, and I have been getting phone calls ever since we showed up from people offering to help. Folks have been coming by her room, visiting, and some family friends drove in this morning for a 24-hour visit from 2 states away. None of these people are family; none of them have any particular "obligation" to her, but yet here they are. One man called yesterday and said, "Your grandparents were so kind to us 30 years ago, and I just want to be able to help out." What?

I know this town isn't paradise, and if Alabama elects Roy Moore as governor it may cease to qualify as a democracy, but I can't help but be touched by people's kindness. Would I stick my neck out to help an old woman who once did me a favor decades ago? I don't know. Where do my boundaries of helpfulness end?

I guess the answer is to keep on doing people favors now and hope at least some of them remember.

No comments: