What has ameliorated the awfulness of this past month is how kind, thoughtful, just plain nice people have been. The nurses in the Cardiac Care unit were so gentle and pleasant. I watched them shave Bill. They were careful, went slowly, rubbed shaving cream into the bristles gently. After he had his first cat scan, he smiled at the cardiac nurse who had accompanied him and she smiled at him, and he said to me and John, “With the help of my buddy here, I got through it.” It was as if together they had overcome a monumental obstacle.
My relatives and friends have rallied around. I have not a doubt that I could phone many different people, and they would be here immediately to help us. The ones far away have sent candy, Bill’s favorite fig squares, books, flowers, cards. They have phoned and e-mailed. The ones close by have visited, done errands, and brought food.
Yesterday we went to get Bill’s new glasses. I was filled with dread because his old ones have been unsatisfactory for several years – the bifocal part is so low that he can’t use them to read. The cheerful young woman put them on Bill and gave him something to read. I could tell that they weren’t right. She immediately said, “They’re not right. Who did those measurements anyway? You can’t use them. I’m sending them right back to the laboratory.” She called a colleague who agreed they weren’t right, and they discussed the proper positioning of the lower bifocals. Proper glasses might seem like a small thing compared to a stroke and possible lung cancer, but to someone whose life is reading and writing, it is huge.
Bill is, in many people’s opinion, both brilliant and eccentric. He sometimes is difficult to understand, but I can tell that everyone we have encountered in the last month has been trying hard to figure him out in a kindly way. A night nurse asked me what Bill did before he retired. I told her that he was a professor of English at UNB. Her eyes opened wide, she laughed, flung out her arms, and said, “That explains a lot! We wondered where all those big words were coming from.”