Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Tough Women Club

It was nearly Christmas. We were just sitting down to watch the Grinch, and tradition in our family is that if you want to see the major Christmas specials- Rudolph, the Grinch, and Frosty- you have to catch them when they are shown. No taping allowed.

Not five minutes into the show, the pager went off.

I knew where the house had to be, being familiar with our response area. It was back behind trees, at the end of a long driveway, with no obvious numbers. WE knew where it was, but the ambulance likely would not.

Sure enough, they missed the house. Twice, at least. We could see and hear them go by, but since I'm not allowed to carry a radio, we had no way to contact them to give them directions.

Meanwhile, we were inside, with the patient, listening to her story.

She told us about her cardiac history. About her stroke history. About being diabetic. About her asthma. She talked about tiring more easily than she used to. And oh, by the way, she casually mentioned she also has cancer.  All of this relayed with no apparent distress, like discussing the weather, or a television show.  She was, as she described herself, "a stubborn old lady." Certainly tough enough to kick whatever this was that made her feel "a little off." We had a good laugh together, the three of us, the "tough women" club, before anyone else arrived on scene.

She reminded me of another patient we had seen, another tough old lady, who made me smile more than once over the years. I wondered if they knew each other, if, perhaps, they had been close friends, they seemed so alike. I could easily imagine the two of them as youngsters, turning heads and causing trouble. This little town seems to grow some tough women, women who live long and well. Women who are good workers, and even better friends. The kind of person you can count on, no matter what.

I just now saw her obituary. She died a few days ago. I'm absolutely certain she was tough to the very end, and probably had friends and family chuckling over some joke, or tall tale. If I had to guess, I'd bet she was comforting family and friends, rather than the other way around.

Godspeed, Alma. Keep everyone wherever you are in line, until the rest of the club gets there, okay?

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