I am writing this with one ear open for the phone to ring. I am expecting a call from the local hospital from either my adult daughter or the staff to let me know whether she is going to need an operation for suspected appendicitis. I took her there last night and we waited for over five hours to be informed that they would like to admit her for observation and assessment. We went up to a medical ward at 11.00 p.m.
The first thing that caught our attention was the stench. I can only assume that a number of patients had needed bed-pans or that the food served for supper was particularly pungent. It was really offensive. The bed we were shown to was beside a gravely ill woman whose breathing was very crackly and laboured. Across from her were two other women who appeared to be very ill. My daughter was extremely upset about staying in the hospital and became tearful.
She didn’t want to stay; she has never felt comfortable being around sick people; she hates smells; she was a small child again. I had to sit and wait until she had calmed down somewhat before we could discuss what she wanted to do and what she was going to do. Eventually, after the Ward Sister came to speak to her, explaining that she was very busy with seriously ill patients and that she would find time to welcome her properly later on, my daughter decided to remain in hospital for ‘just one night’.
I came home to be greeted by three very-desperate-to-pee dogs who were delighted to see me especially after they had been out and relieved themselves! I spent a strange night, watching television but not noticing anything, until I thought I was tired enough to actually sleep if I went to bed.
The difficulty at the hospital is there was no easy method for me to contact my daughter nor she me. There was no patient phone and use of mobiles was not encouraged. We become so used to getting in touch with people wherever we are that we do not necessarily appreciate the thinking time and free space that a lack of technology affords us.
I had an opportunity to think about my child even though she is a grown woman. I remembered all the other times when she had needed me and I was seen as the strong one who makes everything better. I no longer have that magic, yet she looked to me in that same way last night as she did when she was a child. I could remonstrate with myself and become self-accusing and feel that my style of parenting prevented her from acquiring maturity and responsibility. I don’t believe that to be the case. I think it more likely that she fell into the trap that we all do in moments of real crisis, when we regress and for that moment want our mothers or fathers to take on the responsibility for our lives again and ‘make everything better’ and I would have done anything to have been able to do that for her.
I am writing this as I wait to hear from the hospital whether she will have surgery or whether I can go and collect her so she can continue as always to be my little girl in a woman’s body. Whatever the outcome of this episode in both of our lives, we know at least that the love and regard from a parent to a child never diminishes; it just adapts to manage the different life stages.
One day I hope my daughter has the chance to be a parent. It won’t matter whether she has given birth to a child or not. She has been taught well and with love, even though I say so myself. Happy Christmas.