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June 8 2009

Then She Crossed
Feb. 2nd, 2008 2:45 a.m. Silver Springs, Texas
A mere shard of light peaked thru the tinted window near the nurses desk on the 4th floor of the hospital. At this hour of the morning, it could be the moon or from a passing vehicle. They didn’t get much activity on the 4th floor. It was the hospice unit of the small hospital and they only had 10 beds. She glanced at the clock, and knew that at any given second the elevator doors would open, and a couple would step out, headed for room 420. Since it was that particular unit next of kin could come and go as they pleased, as long as they checked with the charge nurse before entering a room. This couple known only to them as Kat and Mike were the only family that was allowed to visit the comatose patient. The woman was older than the man, and even tho society was beginning to accept that type of relationship, it still stirred up a few stares. They would show up at 2:45 a.m every morning, and afternoon. They had started that routine about a week ago, explaining that his hours of work had changed. A couple of times during the week, Kat would also call. As they got off the elevator and greeted her, she smiled, assuring them that everything was as normal as could be expected and that she had already been cleaned and her IV bag changed. It was amazing to the nurse how the woman kept her composure, under these circumstances. But, then it always amazed her at how much stronger the women were in cases like these than the men. When the mother had been admitted, they had been given a diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning. She had been having these strange attacks for almost 2 years now, but all the tests they had run hadn’t given them a clue as to why they were happening. In all actuality, the only real diagnosis they could come up with was that she was more of a hypochondriac than anything, and these monthly attacks were just kind of weird in general. She did have a slight amount of heart damage, probably from a heart murmur, and had been diagnosed as a diabetic during one of her pregnancies, but as soon as she lost some of the weight, and the baby was born, that cleared up. She usually came out of them just fine, but not this time. However, her blood sugar levels were normal, and she was taking pretty much the normal type of medications for a woman of her age. The only other medication she was on was muscle relaxers, probably due to the fact that she had worked hard and long hours as a nurse. She had been admitted on Jan. 1st, of 2008. Within just a few minutes, she had slipped into a comatose state. The doctors had not really expected her to survive those wee hours of that morning, much less survive a whole month. After 2 weeks in Intensive Care, she had been transferred to them. Still it was a strange case indeed. She had been the only patient from that nursing home to come down with carbon monoxide poisoning and she wasn’t even on oxygen. The nursing home had already called the state to come out and investigate her room, but there was no way it could have happened. Their ventilation system was well within the boundaries. How it had happened was just a mystery. Her primary physician, Dr. Bob, as he was called by everyone was positive it had been a wrong diagnosis. She knew the woman Kat was the daughter of their patient, but had just recently met her. Both she and her husband called Dorene Mother, so she finally asked whose mother she actually was. As she got up from her desk at 3:10 to make her rounds, she stopped by room 420 first. The couple didn’t usually stay for more than 15 minutes or so, but they were each standing by the bed, across from each other. Kat was talking to her, with the man occasionally imputing a word here or there. They were telling her a story about their dog, then the woman took out the Bible and read her the 23rd Psalm. It was apparently Dorene’s favorite passage. The aide came into the room just as they were getting ready to leave. She looked at the nurse before saying, “Oh, y’all don’t have to leave, I’m just going to check her once more before I go on break”. Kat smiled at the two women and took in a deep breath. “No, it’s okay, we need to get a move on, and we know she is in good hands. After all, God put her here with yall and well He knows what He’s doing. Besides, we’ve stayed a little longer than normal tonight. I needed to tell her a funny story about my dog, she loves my dog. She smiled and the man nodded and leaned over to kiss the older woman’s forehead, and then they started out the door. Kat turned and looked at her Mother. “Mother, if you see Jesus, standing tall and straight, with his arms wide open, you run like hell, just run right into those arms and let him heal you and take you away from all this pain. It’s okay, we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to stay here”. They closed the door, and the aide looked over at the charge nurse. “You know, Kat is much stronger than he is. At first I thought that he was our patient’s son because of that”, the aide said. The nurse smiled, agreeing, that the woman was usually the stronger of the couple in situations like this. “She calls, and sometimes, Dorene actually responds a little. Well, we had better get a move on, we still 2 other patients you know, and I hear we might be having another one come in this afternoon.” “Oh yeah? Who is it, do you know? I kind of thought we might be getting that young man who was brought in with brain cancer.” The aide said softly. As they started toward the door, a low moan came from the bed. They rushed back, just as the beeper on her monitor started going off. Several other staff members rushed in just in time to see her open her eyes and look at the nurse. She whispered as loudly as her coarse voice would allow. The look in her eyes was one of concern, and perhaps a bit of distress. ‘NOT MY FROGGIE’ was all that came from her throat. Then she closed her eyes and took her last breath. As the staff silently started to prepare for the physicians visit, the nurse looked at the aide with tears in her eyes. This was something she should be used to, but even after 15 years, it was hard. “Run quickly, see if you can catch her kids.” The aide took off in a quick dash, her shoes echoing as she ran down the hall towards the elevator. As she stood waiting impatiently for the elevator, she turned toward the exit to the stairs. Taking them two at a time, she got to the front door just as she saw the couple driving out of their parking lot. All she could think of was ‘thank God the lot was fairly empty’. She started waving madly and ran to the car as quickly as she could. Remembering what her professor had told her several years back, she asked that they please return to the ward and talk to the charge nurse. Then she hurried back into the building, went into the restroom and composed herself before returning. She had been here from the beginning with this lady, she didn’t want the couple to see the tears rolling down her cheeks, as she thought to herself, ‘this is the part of this job that I will never get to used to’. As she got off of the elevator she turned toward the station. She knew the primary physician, Dr. BOB would be here soon. As she gathered her equipment, she overheard the nurse talking to the couple outside of the room. “If you would like you can go in, or you can wait for the doctor. I am so terribly sorry, I know how hard this is, but please remember, she is at peace now. No more suffering, no more hurting. Would you like to go in and see her?” The woman was leaning up against the wall, with the man at her elbow and tears rolling down her cheeks. As the aide neared the door, she looked up and smiled as softly as she could at them. “I’m so sorry. I wish I could make this hurt go away, but I know I can’t. I think she must have heard what you said to her. You helped her you know? In those last few minutes, you helped her.” Then she went on inside the room, closing the door behind her. The nurse looked once again at the couple. “Let me help you to the waiting room. You know, Ann is right. That’s her name. You did help her, but this time, I think by saying it to her in person, instead of over the phone like you did a couple of days ago, that she could tell you were ready to let her have that peace. That is what a lot of them need. The peace of knowing their kids will be okay. You gave her that. She is a lucky woman to have such a loving child.” The woman raised her head and looked at the man beside her, then back at the nurse. “I can’t do this, will you tell Dr. Bob that I will call him later today? I just can’t. Please, don’t make me do this”, she pleaded with her husband. “Okay honey, you don’t have to”. Then he turned to the nurse, “I hope you understand, but I am going to go ahead and take her home. The doctor knows what to do, where to send her. I will call the funeral home when I get home. I hope that will be okay.”
The nurse looked at the couple and nodded her head as she smiled. She understood, for she had witnessed this scenario many times. As they got on the elevator, Dr. Bob got off of the one across the hall that was reserved for staff. He paused outside the door and looked at her. “Geez, I hate this. She has been my friend and patient for years. She started working at the hospital over near Dallas when I was an intern there. A couple of years after that I moved here and then shortly after that she and her husband moved here. He’s been dead for years. Died of cancer when they were in their 50's. Couldn’t do a thing for him, and now, when the chips really went down, couldn’t do anything for her either. Except watch her die. I still can’t believe that diagnosis tho. It just doesn’t make any sense. However, I have to admit that all the signs were there for it. What really gets me is that about a year ago, she had one of those attacks and her daughter Kat asked me if the medicines could be counter-acting each other causing some kind of a poisoning effect. It upset me terribly, her thinking I might not be caring for her mother properly, but maybe I should have listened to her, Hell, I delivered that kid. I wish Dorene hadn’t signed that stupid paper saying that no autopsy was to be done. I suppose I could override it, but what good would it do now? Have you called them yet?”
“NO, we didn’t have to. For about the last week, they have been showing up right at 2:45 am and pm. Said his hours had changed. She still called every few days tho, about once or sometimes twice a week. Remember when I told you that she responded to that one phone call a couple of days ago? She opened eyes and said, “my Froggie”, in the softest voice. She even had a hint of a smile. Well, tonight told her the same exact thing. That it was okay for her to run like hell to Jesus if she saw him and I guess she believed her this time. Maybe she just wanted to hear her say it in person. Tonight tho, when she woke up, she said it very coarsely. Like it upset her and it wasn’t the same. Tonight, she said “NOT MY FROGGIE”. It was like she was really mad. Then she just closed her eyes and died”. “Kat was here? Hmm, I didn’t even know she was in town. They don’t live here, unless they just moved back. Kat didn’t want to, she even took her mother to her hometown and tried to get her to move there. She was in a nursing home there for one month exactly and had one of these attacks. When she got out of the hospital, she moved herself back here. Kat couldn’t stop her, she was still in full control of her mind. Froggie, huh? Well, that was Kat’s nickname as a baby. That child just wouldn’t stop kicking, both in and out of the womb. Dorene always called her “my Froggie”. I wonder why this time she said what she said. I guess we will never know. Did you tell Kat what her mother said?” “No, I didn’t even think about it. Actually when I mentioned it before, she said her mother had always liked frogs. Didn’t make much of it. I was too busy trying to console although, I am afraid I didn’t do a very good job of it. They have already left, said you knew what to do, where to send her, etc. Are you going to have an autopsy done? Should I call the coroner”? “No, it wouldn’t do any good now, and at least we can say that we did our best to keep her comfortable.” He pushed open the door, saying, “God, this is the worst part of this career”, then drew in a deep breath.
The couple was quiet as they drove out of the hospital parking lot. When they reached the corner, Mike pulled into a gas station, and got out. Pausing at the trash can, he withdrew something from his pocket and threw it away. Then he went in and got a couple of drinks, and some cigarettes. As he got back in he looked over at his wife. “Nice touch, you should have been an actress.” “Oh shut up, you know how much I loved her. I am genuinely sorry to see her leave”.
Jan. 18th, 2008
When Kat woke up that morning, she knew instantly what she had to do. As she dialed the number to the hospital where her mother was, and asked for Intensive Care, she was transferred to a nurse. The nurse informed her that her mother had been transferred to a private room, in the hospice care unit, and told her to hold while she was transferred to the 4th floor. When the nurse picked up the phone, Kat explained who she was and asked if she could please talk to her mother. The nurse told her to hang up and call back, asking for room 420. When the phone was answered, the nurse said, okay, you will be on a speaker phone, but the phone will also be held up to your mothers ear. You do know that she is unconscious still, correct? Kat affirmed that yes she did know, but was hoping with all that was in her that in someway, her mother might respond to her voice. In the background she could hear the beeping of the machines, and her mother’s ragged breathing was quite upsetting. However, she did her level best to keep her wits about her, not letting emotions override her composure. She talked to her mother for a few minutes telling her how sorry she was that she wasn’t there and how much she loved her. When the nurse said it was time to hang up, and that they were doing everything they could possibly do to keep her comfortable, Kat asked them to do a few things.
“Please write down these phone numbers that I am giving you.” I already have a set of phone numbers for you. I was just wondering when you might be visiting,, or if it’s possible for you to visit. She hasn’t had any visitors at all, except for one or two, the whole time she has been here. I am looking at her chart, it says that there are 2 cell phone numbers, 2 home phone numbers and your mother-in-laws number. It says, daughter Kat’s contact numbers. Wow, you have a lot listed.”
"I will be calling more than visiting, visiting is almost impossible for me. There is deception in the family,, and if the wrong person is there when I do show up,, well, it might cause problems. You don’t need that in your hospital, endangering others, or creating a scene. I’m sure your work is intense enough that you will have to agree with that. I’ve been to that hospital many times, I even spent the night there, with my mother in law. I am over 4 hours away,, well almost, 4 given traffic and weather. Right now, getting out of my own driveway is impossible, much less driving that distance. I also am recovering from a horrible cold and flu like symptoms. I need to wait a while longer before I visit.”
“Okay, I understand, and you are right. We don’t need any drama around here. We have plenty. Make sure when you call, that they nurse on duty knows that I have okayed the phone call visits. If you do come, make sure to bring your id. This is a secure site, it’s the hospice ward. We check id’s here. Once we know you tho, it isn’t necessary. We are a fairly small unit, so we only have a handful of people here.”
Kat hesitated then asked, “did she respond in anyway at all to my voice?” “Well, her heartbeat quickened a little, but that was all. I think she knew, somehow they do know, it’s a mystery to man. Always has been, and probably always will be.” “Okay, thanks, I will talk to you later. When Kat hung up, her knees buckled and she lowered herself to the floor, hugged her knees and let the tears flow. Oh how she wished she could just march right in there, and set those girls straight. She wanted to turn them over her knee’s and give them all good old fashioned spankings. Smiling and shaking her head at visualizing that thought, she knew it would do no good, and would only end in someone getting hurt. She prayed, for the first time, that God had also heard her conversation and would release her mother from this hell. For a few days Kat continued to call, and then one night in the middle of the night, she woke up, screaming her head off. Mike just about jumped to the ceiling and Kat was shaking like a leaf. As she told him about having the dream again, he asked if she knew anymore than last time. “I wish I knew, but this time, the dream was really scary. I can’t get the picture of those feet out of my head, and I can’t imagine what they were looking for. Look, I’m going to get up and write this one down. I’m okay, you go back to sleep. I will wake you in a couple of hours.” But, she didn’t have to wake him up. He got up and followed her into the kitchen. “It’s okay I’m awake anyway. And you are still pretty upset. Look, why don’t we just have some coffee? We can talk about this if you want to. It had been nearly a week since she had called her mother, and she decided to call again, even tho it was fairly early and just check on her. The nurse told her that she was resting as comfortable as she possibly could be but that nothing had changed. Kat thanked her and hung up. “Do you think I should go there”, she asked as Mike poured them some coffee. “No, and you know it. Besides, I can’t get tomorrow off and there is no way in hell I am going to let you go by yourself. It’s only the 25th, let’s wait and if they call, then we will go as fast as we can, I promise. But if there is the least bit of trouble from any of those girls we are leaving and you are pressing charges. This is getting ridiculous. These hang up calls, and now the dreams, I am starting to get just more than a little worried”. But Kat had a different plan, after she dropped him off this morning, she had planned to sneak over to Silver and be back before he got off. Enough was enough as he had put it. Suddenly a bolt of lightening hit and she knew her plans had just been brought to a stunning halt. If this storm hit as it was promising to do, then he wouldn’t be working tomorrow at all.
Jan. 30th, 2008
Mike woke to find Kat missing from their bed. Looking around, he saw a beam of light showing thru the half open door that led to the office. As he got up, he found Kat sound asleep on the couch. Beside her lay a paper and he glanced at it. “What is It” was the title of whatever she was working on. As he picked her up, she squirmed and tears started streaming from her eyes. She opened them up and then let out a long sigh. “Not again, please tell me that you didn’t have the dream again.” She just nodded. He sat her down on the couch and sat down beside her. “I’m going to make a pot of coffee and you are going to tell me the entire thing, not just bits and pieces of it . This has gone on long enough. Maybe we can figure it out together”.
“Okay, but it’s not too pretty of a picture to paint, and I don’t think you are going to like it very much.” “Well, I don’t like waking up and finding you up at 4 am writing either, or sleeping on the couch. So let’s figure this thing out, and maybe we can come up with some answers.” After they got settled, Kat began her story about the dream, as Mike sat there transfixed. The more she talked the more he began to see why Kat had been so antsy lately. “ Well, it begins with me laying on the couch talking to Poppa. He and Bobby are visiting. Poppa is sitting next to the front door and Bully is laying in front of the door. It is open, and Missy is sitting on the settee by the window watching a squirrel that is running around out back. Bobby is playing with his game and wanting you to take him down to the pond after you finish your sandwich. Pop is dozing off and on. We don’t even hear or see a car drive in, but all of a sudden 3 or maybe 4 people appear on the porch. All I can see in the dream are feet. Lots of feet. I am pretty sure there are 4 of them. Their faces and hair are covered, and they have on gloves. None of them have any weapons as far as I can tell, but two of them are larger than the others. They have caught us completely off guard and you run into the living room. Of course, since the living room and kitchen are divided by a just the bar, one of the big ones stops you, knocking you down. They tape your mouth and shove you down on the floor and the other one pushes pop down in the rocker and does the same. Bobby is terrified, and they do the same thing to him and Poppa. I get pushed back down on the couch, because I jumped up too. Bully is kicked hard and shoved out the door. Missy takes off in a dead run, and then quickly hides under the blanket on the couch beside me. They tie my hands to the wooden handles of the couch but they don’t tape my mouth. One of them start to talk to me, asking me WHERE IS IT. I have no idea what it is. The voice is vaguely familiar, but I am not sure what it is. All I can still see are the feet. They start pulling things off of the shelves, each fanning out to a different room, apparently looking for it. I asked the person who is standing by me and going thru the stuff in the living room, what it is. Bully is pawing at the screen and barking, trying to get in. They threaten to kill him, then they close the door. I see him go by the back window around to the back door, where he begins to paw and bark some more. I beg them to just tell me what it is that they want, and if I have it, I will get it for them, and to please not kill or hurt anyone anymore than they already have. The biggest one just laughs. It is definitely a man, and the one in the living room with us, is definitely a woman. Her voice is too high pitched. I feel as tho we are trapped in the midst of a stormy bout at sea, unable to escape the unseen forces at hand. It is almost like the couch is a boat and we are strapped in to it, and not even able to put on life jackets. As the big one starts to leave the kitchen that he has completely destroyed you wiggle your way around and he trips. When he gets up, he kicks you hard but it doesn’t really do you much damage. The woman laughs and says, “now look what you have done to your cute little hubby. You got him hurt. It’s your fault because you won’t tell us where it is. If you just tell us, then we will get it and leave, and no one will get hurt. Of course, we all know that the only reason you were put on this earth was too get other people hurt. That you are nothing but a low life bitch, probably just a whore who got lucky that some cute guy fell for you. But now, you are getting him hurt, or worse if we don’t find it”. They still won’t tell me what it is. That is when they spot the box. The woman moves toward the box and Poppa panics. I scream “no, you can’t have that, it is momma’s ashes.” She jumps back and says, “you tellin me that yall put her in that box? That you burned her up and now she’s in that box? You know that cremation shit is bad, it’s like entering the chambers of hell”. Besides that, what if you trapped her soul in there too. And bitch, you need to get yore priorities straight, that woman waddun’ nuthin’ but a aunt. A half- aunt at that. She and yore real mother didden even have the same daddy. Looks like this family is cursed from both sides”.
She doesn’t touch the box, in fact she jumped quickly away from it. She turned to Poppa and says, “ any yall thought we was crazy”. I know then, that it has to be someone from my biological family, but I don’t know who. It isn’t one of my nieces, I would surely have recognized that voice. Maybe it’s a cousin of theirs, I just don’t know. Suddenly we hear a loud whoop from the bedroom, and the biggest guy comes out yelling, “Ha, I found it. Nows we can destroy it. The other two who were searching in the office and guest room come out and they are like, ‘yippee, do it bro’. Then he walks over to where I am, and he simply throws it down on the floor and takes that weird boot of his and smashes it into a tiny million pieces. I am thinking, ‘what the hell’? IT is my blood testing kit for my hypoglycemia. Of all the things in this world, well, it just puts me in total shock. They turn to walk away and he looks back and says “ now bitch, stay the hell away from Silver Springs”. They walk out the door, but I still don’t recognize the voices. They are laughing, we hear them talking. Things like, ‘let her try to prove it now’, and there ain’t no way she will ever get out of this one. That bitch is going down.’ That was the last thing I heard, or saw until we hear a car start up in the distance. Bobby is the first one to get free. He grabs a knife out of the kitchen and sets Poppa free then me and you. We let Bully in to see if they hurt him, but he is alright. We call 9-11, but we know that they are long gone by now. When the officers get there, we tell him and they try to get some finger prints, but they said it was pretty hopeless. They did take remains of the blood testing kit to see if they might be able to figure something out from that, but well, nothing else was stolen, just a big messy house with not many things left intact. The EMT checks you out, and says you will be fine, just a few bruises. You know, I thought they were looking for something of value, real value. I kind of thought that perhaps they were after that turquoise bracelet, but other than probably just being old, it wasn’t really of any value. The maker didn’t even sign it. When I took it down to have it appraised, they said it might even have come from Mexico. It might have had some memories attached to it, but I don’t know. I sent it back with her, just like I did everything else, except for my copies of the living will and the medical power of attorney papers. Maybe I will call today, if this storm lets up. If not, then I will call tomorrow. Besides, they will call, surely they will call if something happens.
Mike looks over and takes Kat’s hands in his. “Of course they will honey, they have to. Regardless of the facts involved, you are still the only next of kin. I have to get ready for work, but you are going back to bed and get some sleep, and there are no two ways about it. Come on, I will tuck you in”. Kat felt so secure with Mike working right next door, that she almost instantly fell asleep and when she woke up, it was nearly lunch. After that she spent the afternoon cleaning the house and doing laundry. It took everything she had not to pick up the phone, but lately, whenever she did call, the nurses seemed a little too disturbed with her. It really wasn’t her fault, but then again, maybe it was. Maybe she should just get in the damn van and go to Silver Springs, saying to hell with what everyone else thought.
Feb 2nd, 2008.
Mike woke up with the intent of taking Kat to see her mother tomorrow. She had once again, made a phone call, and talked to the lady. Even tho she was still comatose, these calls made Kat feel better in a way. It had been Jan30th, and as usual, she had once again told her mother it would be okay to run to Jesus’ arms. She had made the call early that morning, and had been suffering from a slight bout of depression ever since. Today, when he woke up he decided that he would take her to see her, even if it did cause problems. He intended to notify the security at the hospital before they even went in, that way, there would be no problems, and maybe Kat could visit with her mother and settle whatever was on both of their minds. He knew that more than anything Kat wanted peace between them, and real affirmation of love, even if it meant she had to be told once again to walk away, to leave. Of course, this time that wouldn’t happen, Kat’s mother was still comatose. But, if Kat could see the woman, just once more, then perhaps she could get on with her life, and these horrible dreams would stop plaguing her. He doubted his theory considering Kat’s history of dreams,, but he could always hope. Today tho, before they made this trip, he had to take the car in for inspection, and get a lube job. They also needed to pick up Kat’s medications, and he intended to buy her something really special for her birthday. It was only 4 days away now, and he wanted her to have something new and pretty. She deserved it and he had found the perfect gift for her. All he had to do was go pick it up. While she was doing some shopping he would wander over to the jewelry department and get it. Then he would take it out to the car and hide it, giving it to her at lunch at a nearby restaurant. They would then head back home and stop by and pick up her medications and he would be all set for leaving later for leaving early in the morning. He also had to remember to buy his mother some flowers for her anniversary. His father didn’t really believe in celebrating holidays, but he knew that it hurt his mother each time his father forgot it. He was going to make sure that didn’t happen this year. Tomorrow was their anniversary. His mother loved roses, perhaps he would buy her a rose bush. She could plant it in a pot and keep it inside until it warmed up a bit. Although it had been mild weather, rain soaked but mild.
“Hey, wake up sleepy head, we have things to do today.”
Mike nudged Kat with his elbow, tickling her awake. She covered her head with her pillow and then yanked his out from under his head. “NO< I am gonna sleep late. You go do whatever, take Bully for a run, make the coffee, feed Missy, then wake me up, I am gonna be lazy today”.
“Uh-uh, you gotta get up, we have things to do. So hop to it missy, get that cute little rump out of the sack. And do it now”. He dragged the covers off of her and she looked up at him. He held a cup of coffee in his hand. Kat reluctantly got up and scowled at him as she took the coffee from him. Wondering what had him so riled up on a Saturday, she followed him into the kitchen. Apparently the animals had all been taken care of and he was dressed, ready to leave the house. “Go without me, spend the day doing whatever you want to do”. “Nope, I will be waiting on you outside. Go get dressed, take a shower, etc,” and he walked out with cup in hand. He leaned back thru the front door,” hurry up tho, it looks like rain”. “UGH, not again?”
“Yep, fraid so”, he sighed. As Kat walked out the door, she looked around. “Yeah, I think you’re definitely right. We need to get this shopping over with, before the road gets too muddy to get back in. You know, maybe we oughta invest in some good mud tires. OR maybe we should just try to find some snow tires. Same difference sort of. Would be cheaper than getting a 4x4.”
“Well, surely it can’t last forever. Before long all we will have to do is get a boat. I can’t believe how much rain we’ve had this winter. But at least the grass stayed green. And thank heavens, the rider didn’t break down. Which reminds me, don’t let me forget that new blade for it”. “Okay, I won’t, but can we stop and get a sandwich or something, before we head to town? We’re going to Palestine, right? Maybe we can stop at a couple of the garage sales too. I need some new dream catcher materials. That guy that sales those leather pieces should be open today”. “Yeah, okay.” Mike grinned over at her. “So, how did the conversation go with your mother? You called her again, right?” “Yeah, I called her on Wednesday Morning. There’s no change. She is still in the coma. I wonder, I really don’t think she will come out of it. But, it’s still so strange. I mean after all, well, you know what I mean.
Sometimes tho, I think she hears me when I talk to her. I also think someone else was there, but I don’t know who. Maybe that friend named Ruby, the one who called. I could here someone in the background asking the nurse who was on the phone. It sounded like an older woman, not like one of the girls, there was man there too. The nurse said, “I said that sometimes, when I talk to her, her heartbeat quickens. I told her this morning that it was okay for her to run to Jesus’ arms. I hope I am doing right by doing that. This nurse, she is new. I had never talked to her before. She acted like she knew who I was tho. I guess word finally made it thru the conversation circuit. Still, they are kind of weird when I call. It’s like, ‘oh, it’s you again.’ They act like I am bugging them to hell and back or something.”
Her doctor won’t even return my calls when I call his office. I guess he’s mad that I asked him all those months ago if her medications could be inter-reacting causing some kind of poisoning effect. I guess he still thinks I am gonna blame him or sue him. Which of course I’m not. I will call again on Sunday evening,, that seems to be the best time. Besides, they have all of our numbers, and could get a hold of us at any given time. Surely they would call if there was even a slight change, they said they would.” “I think they have too, don’t they”? Yeah, they are supposed to anyway”. The rest of the trip into town was spent in silence, each with their own train of thought going on. Mike pulled into a couple of roadside sales, but they didn’t really find anything they couldn’t live without. As they walked into the store, Mike told Kat that he was heading for the auto department and then pick up the blades for the lawnmower. They agreed to meet back at the little café after they were finished shopping. As Kat wandered off into the grocery department, Mike went over to the jewelry department and picked up the bracelet he had picked up for Kat a couple of weeks ago. He had them take out a couple of links because he knew it would be too big for her. It sterling silver and amethyst, her birth stone. It was absolutely beautiful and would go perfect with the ring her momma had given Kat about 25 years ago. She wore that ring faithfully, and if she didn’t have it on, she had it in her purse. It was just one thing she wouldn’t leave home without. He tucked it away and was going to go ahead and give it to her today at lunch. This would be an early gift he knew, but she had been rather depressed lately, and he wanted her to have it before they went to Silver Springs. IF they went to Silver Springs that is. The weather was getting worse as he stood at the little café and waited for her. Severe thunderstorms were being forecasted for that afternoon, promising to hit before they even got home. As Kat approached him, he smiled. He wished he could make her every birthday wish come true, however, he knew he couldn’t. This bracelet was just a little something to let her know that he was with her all the way on this whole shootin’ match. He was glad he hadn’t told her about going to Silver Springs tomorrow, because it was already starting to rain. As they ran from the store to the car, he drove off toward the restaurant he had picked out for lunch. They would have a few minutes of fun, before heading back home. But then, whenever they were together was fun for them. They just seemed to have a way of making it that way. As they finished their lunch, she looked out the window. “UGH< it is getting worse, we really should head for home.” First though, I have to stop by the pharmacy. We can just go to the drive thru, I called them in yesterday.” She smiled at him, and he said, “well, sure that’s fine, but there is one more thing. I want some desert.” As he said that, several people came out of the back carrying a piece of cake and a bowl of chocolate ice cream, covered with whipped cream and nuts, topped with a cherry. The group stopped at their table and started singing Happy Birthday to Kat. As she started to giggle, Mike pulled out the present. She hesitated then ripped the wrapping off, saving the bow. The whole group, in fact almost all of the people around them were watching as Kat picked up the bracelet and the tears began to flow. It was absolutely the perfect gift.
“Oh look, it matches your ring perfectly”, the waitress said as she sat the cake down in front of her. “Now, blow out your candles, and may all your wishes and dreams come true.” One by one, they wished her a happy birthday and then went off to do the rest of their chores. “Honey, I wish all your dreams and wishes could come true too, but I don’t think well, I was going to take you to Silver Springs this afternoon, but now, I don’t think we had better go. This weather is so crazy.” It’s okay Mike, it really is. You know, I have thought every week, when I cash your check, about just heading over there. But, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Part of me wants too, part of me is scared too, and some other part that is buried deep inside way down in my soul just wants to stay away, like she said she wanted me to do.” I’m not sure which part is worse. They all make me feel like shit, make me feel like a coward and a horrid person.”
“Well, you’re not so don’t go there. None of this is your fault. All those doors closed so tightly that well, it’s freaky. IT’s as if this is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.” “Yeah, I know, and I agree with that. You know that, but still, I feel as if there is something, or should be something more that I can do besides call her once or twice a week. But, the nurse said that was all I should be calling. I wonder why? They said, ‘ you can’t always be here, and you do have a life.’ That is what is so weird, it’s as if they think I have been there.”
As they got up to leave, both having eaten too much, they thanked the group of people for all their kindness. They had a couple of boxes, as they had ordered way too much food. But, in actuality, they had done it on purpose, and had the food boxed up before they even began eating. It was for the man with the dog they had seen standing out on the road. If he was still there, they were going to give it to him. He had been splitting a sandwich with the dog. You could tell they were hitching rides. As luck was on their side, the man just happened to be at the light right outside of the restaurant. Kat was driving, and Mike rolled down the window and called the man. He told him that the food was ordered especially for him and his dog and then wished him a happy day. Kat knew that Mike always tried his best to help guys like this one when he could. It was one of many qualities she admired in him.
On their way back home, they had another surprise. They ran across Mike’s mother on the highway and they pulled over to the side to talk for a few minutes, before the rain started again. She was also on her way back home from a ladies meeting at the church Mike’s sister attended. Finally they arrived back home, just as the storm hit hard and fast, lasting all night long. Thank heavens the electricity or the phones hadn’t gone out. Kat had stayed up all night just too make sure. The next morning they received a phone call telling them that their church would be canceling services that morning, due to the impassable road to the lake. They attended church out at the lake, at the local campground. It was the one church that didn’t judge Kat because of her special gifts, and even encouraged her to write. The congregation was small, there was only about 7 or 8 of them in regular attendance, but during the summer, or when it wasn’t rainy, there were always quite a few guests. It was Feb. 3rd, 2008. IF he had lived, Kat’s little brother would have turned 55 that day. She wondered what he would have looked like. Perhaps kind of like her, or maybe her biological dad. He had been really handsome, even if he was an alcoholic. Kat smiled at the thought, then wished him a happy birthday. It was his birthday in 2 ways. It was his earthly birthday, and it was his birthday for crossing over into the other realm. She hoped that her mother had maybe somehow visited with him during this bout of illness. Then maybe she could tell Kat what he looked like, when she returned to this earthly existence. The rain had finally cleared and Mike had gone over to help their neighbor work on his house. She reminded herself to call Mike’s mother after lunch to wish her a happy anniversary. They had already given her the flowers. She wasn’t sure what had prompted her to do it yesterday, but she had. Perhaps she was afraid she might forget to take them to the dinner tonight. She wasn’t sure, it was just a gut feeling that she oughta go ahead and give them to her. Her mother-in-law was such a special person. Kat adored her. She adored her father-in-law too, but would never admit it, at least not to him. The two of them liked to debate too much. It might affect the fun they had doing that, if he knew she really did love the old guy.
Kat was busily playing with the momma kat when Mike came walking up.
As he sat down beside her, he looked at her and smiled,,,, that smile that people have when they love you and know they are about to hurt you. She swallowed hard and said, “Is it over?” with tear laden eyes. She knew it was,, she could tell by the look in his eyes. He looked down and put his arm around her. As she buried her head in his shoulders he quietly stroked her head, and told her what the man had said. She had just died and Susan was at the funeral home with her. He would call later with the details. She just never woke up. Just quit breathing and never woke up. Kat pulled away from Mike. Oh GOD<< HOW SHE WANTED TO HURT SOMETHING. THE WAY SHE WAS HURTING. SO SHE WALKED AWAY FROM HIM, AND PICKED UP THE FIRST THING SHE COULD THROW. INSTEAD OF THROWING THE LIMB THO, SHE SWUNG IT AGAINST THE TREE, AS HARD AS SHE COULD, AND THEN SWUNG IT SOME MORE, UNTIL IT BROKE. THEN SHE BROKE AS WELL. SHE SAT ON THE WET GRASS, NOT CARING ANYMORE.
Feb. 4th, 2008.
It was Monday, she knew she should make a few phone calls, but she just couldn’t. But, she had to. Mike took her into town and they bought a corsage and had it sent to the funeral home. She wanted so badly to go, but knew if she did, that she would probably lose it all together. She and at least one of her deceased sister’s children would end up battling it out right there. She knew it would happen, so she decided to stay away. Besides, her mother had told her once a long time ago, at her brothers funeral,, over 5 years ago,, “I don’t want you at my funeral. You don’t really care about me anyway. Go sit somewhere else, this is for the family that cares about me”. IF anything, she should be relieved the hell was over. But she wasn’t. Not when she heard that her mother had actually called her by the once given nickname of “Froggie, while in the coma. And she couldn’t anyway,, she had always loved her mother and father. Her grandmother had told her she had too. They were her parents,, even if they weren’t raising her. It had started to cloud up again, and Kat wondered about the irony of the situation. Her mother’s death had occurred on the 3rd. The same day she had given birth,, all those years ago to a child. The boy who was to carry his father’s name. Instead, he carried it back to the other realm, living only 3 hours. Life could certainly be ironic. Just like her aunt who lived in Dallas had predicted when she was only about 22 or 23. She had predicted that because of her mother given her away, that she would probably be the only child that would survive long enough to take care of her in her old age. Her aunt had certainly hit that one on the nail head. As she got up and started toward the back room they had set up as an office, she wasn’t sure who to call first. She guessed it had better be the insurance office, then social security. But as she dialed the insurance office and waited patiently thru the automated menu’s that she hated so much, she became more aggravated. When the woman finally answered and she explained who she was, she was asked to verify a few facts about her mother. She told the lady,, “look, I just want to make sure that the check from this policy gets sent to the funeral home, with directions for whatever is left over to be put toward the internment. Can’t you please do that for me? I can’t go to the funeral, and I will call the funeral home and tell them that the check will be sent to them”.
“Yeah, I can do that”, the lady said, “however I had to make sure you are who you say you are. Is there a place I can fax you a copy of something I just received from the funeral home? It is a copy of this policy, and your name has been covered with white out, and Susan Shipley’s name has been penciled in. Who is she? We couldn’t believe it, especially for so little. This money will barely cover the funeral. You will probably have to pay the rest out of your pocket. The funeral director caught her doing it, and then she said she had talked to you on the phone; that you were out of the country. Now do you understand why I had to ask you all these questions? I am sorry for your grief, I really am, but I didn’t have a choice in this matter”. Kat thanked her and tried to apologize for being on the ruffled side, but knew how lame it sounded. She went out and told Mike what had happened and then she asked if he was sure she had died yesterday. The lady on the phone told her she had died very early in the morning, on the 2nd. Somewhere around 3:30 am. Then she wanted to know why Susan’s boyfriend had called, and not the hospital, or hospice. After all, she was the only living next of kin. If she did die on the 2nd, then they withheld it from her for over 36 hours. Why would they do that? To just be cruel? After lunch she called the social security administration and the veterans administration. She was told quite bluntly that she needed to get to the nearest social security office as quickly as possible. From her location, that meant she had to drive for over an hour, but they told her not to worry, she would be let in. And she was, along with a security officer. There she had to produce all kinds of papers, and once again, was asked all kinds of questions. When she finally answered the last question she politely asked the lady what this was all about. She still had medicaid to talk to, and the veterans administration. The lady looked up at her, and then quietly asked if she would mind accompanying them into another office. The security officer tagged along. It was there in that office, that she was given the whole entire brunt of the situation at hand. Her mother couldn’t have been getting medicare and medicaid, and social security disability, along with a veterans and a social security check. Besides, her father’s nor her mother’s social security numbers had matched, on any of the above mentioned. Someone would have to pay all that money back. And someone would have to explain how, since her mother had been comatose since Jan. 1st of 2008, the checks had been signed and cashed. Who did it? Was it her? After all, when she called they had called the hospital and the funeral home because of the discrepancy in the numbers. They then informed her that since she was there at the hospital 45 minutes before her mother had died, she needed to do some explaining. Or they could just call the police. Kat just sat there, totally stunned.
“But, I wasn’t there. I didn’t even find out she was dead until the afternoon of the 3rd. I don’t understand what is going on here. I didn’t sign any checks, nor cash them, and I certainly wasn’t at the hospital, I have plenty of proof of that”. Then they made her sign a sworn statement, saying that she was not there, she did not cash the checks and told her the entire matter was being turned over to the federal officials. When she left that office, she was shaking so bad that she called and asked Mike’s mother to go pick him up and bring him to town to pick her up. She was so shaken up she was actually afraid to drive. As they returned home from that ordeal, Mike ordered Kat to take one of her nerve pills and go to bed. They would handle the rest tomorrow. Her mother-in-law fixed them some dinner before she left the house, and promised to come and spend the day with her tomorrow. Kat had already fallen asleep by time Mike crawled into bed. She was crying in her sleep, and woke up shortly afterwards screaming. She had dreamed the dream again. Only this time, she realized something. She realized why the feet were so prominent. There was something she should be remembering, she just didn’t know exactly what it was. She got up and Mike followed her to the kitchen. He made a pot of coffee and they sat there in silence while she smoked one cigarette right after another. After about the 2nd cup of coffee, Mike looked up, his eyes wide.
“Honey, do you remember what Susan’s boyfriend was wearing when we met him the first time?” She looked at him like he was the crazy one and shook her head. Then it hit her. He had been wearing a cast on his foot. Said it wasn’t due to come off for several more weeks. That he had gotten hurt at work. “Do you suppose that is why the feet were so prominent? Because of his cast? That it could somehow or other be a sign or something?” She and Mike both believed in reincarnation, and in the metaphysical. Good Lord, she had been having dreams, and knowing things she shouldn’t know since she was a little kid. Why her own mother had even called her cursed. She had been told to keep it a secret because if she didn’t they would lock her away in a mental institution. Her nerve impingement in her neck due to an injury was why she was on the muscle and nerve relaxers. Not for her mental state, for her physical state. As she looked at him, she heard something strange. About that time, a very old glass and lead bottle she had bought at a garage sale flew off the top of the cabinet and scaled the kitchen, landing in the living room floor on the carpet. It never even broke, it didn’t fall to the counter or the floor in the kitchen,, it flew across the room and landed by the couch. It might have been understandable if the house had been shaking from an earthquake, or a tornado, but it wasn’t. Besides that, the bottle sat behind a one inch lip on the edge of the shelf. If a mouse or rat had gotten up there, and knocked it over, it would have fallen straight down to counter. But it didn’t. “To hell with this coffee. I’m having a margarita”, Mike said as he got up and poured his coffee out. Then he opened up another pack of cigarettes. The phone rang, and he said, ‘good God, who could that be at this hour.’ But when he answered, there was only breathing. That was when he reached over and unplugged the phone.
Feb. 5th, 2008
Kat woke up as her mother-in-law drove up the path. She glanced over at the clock, and groaned. It was after 10 am. Mike must’ve gotten himself off to work, that is if he even got any sleep. He had wanted to stay home with her, but she didn’t think it would be necessary. As it was, she didn’t want anyone there at all. She just wanted to be alone. It was only 4 hours away. IF she hurried,, no,, she knew she couldn’t think that way. She had made a promise to herself that she would not let her mother’s funeral be made a mockery of, by the making of a nasty scene. She knew the girls were not above it, but she was and wouldn’t let herself be lowered to that level. It wasn’t as if she considered herself better than them, she just wasn’t going to lower herself to be known as a troublemaker in that town. As if was, she closed her eyes when she went thru it, unless she was driving. Then she only closed one eye. There were just too many bad memories for her associated with Silver Springs. She wished she could remember at least one fun time there, but she couldn’t. She never intended to go there again, for any reason whatsoever, unless of course it involved her kids. Thank heavens they felt the same as she did about the place. She yelled out at Mike’s mother that she would be out after a quick shower, and to make herself at home. Of course, she knew she would, the lady always did,, she felt as much at home at their house as she did at her own. When Kat got to the kitchen she had coffee and breakfast waiting on her. “Mike called and said to let you sleep. But, I can see it in your eyes, you want to go to Silver Springs don’t you”?
Tears welled up in her eyes again, and Kat wiped them away with the back of her hand. “Yeah, I really do, but at the same time I just don’t want to. Isn’t that horrible? But, after yesterday, I just don’t know what to think anymore. God, this is a hell of a mess. I can’t believe all this. I knew she was involved in something, but I can’t believe this. My God, what, well, I know this is crazy but, what if they did her in. What if who ever it was that went to the hospital saying they were me, killed her? What if Miss Ruby was right, and someone did give her something to cause that attack here? I mean, after all, they were here awfully fast. And they knew exactly how to get to the hospital. That is really weird considering they said they had never been here before. Do you suppose this is what she meant when she said that by keeping her here that I was going to get her and me murdered? What if,, geez.....” Kat sat there shaking her head and wiping her tears. As she blew her nose, her mother-in-law looked at her. “Kat, I just don’t know. None of this seems possible. It is all so crazy. Look, I know you want to go, maybe we could make a run in there tonight, and after they leave the cemetery you could say your goodbyes. I know it’s not the same, but if it would make you feel better we could do that”. “No, they are probably madder than hell that I am not there right now. For someone who wanted me out of her life, now they want to rub it in my face that she chose them over me. I won’t allow that. Nor will I allow myself to stoop to their level. I can’t be that cruel. I’ve never been that cruel to anyone, and I am not about to start now”. As they finished their late breakfast, Mike came in. He had gone that morning to the next town over to deliver the boat they had just finished working on. When the phone rang, he expected the worst, and in more ways than one it was. It turned out to be the nursing home. They wanted to speak with Kat. When she took the phone from him, the lady on the other end of it, first conveyed her condolences, then asked if she knew if her brother Mike would be available after the funeral or if he was attending the funeral. Kat just stood there stunned,, and then she sat down at the table. “I don’t have a brother named Mike. All of my siblings are deceased. My husband is named Mike. But his name is Harding. I’ve never heard of the person who you think is my brother, why”? Who is this man”? “Well, we just got word from a lawyer that this man is suing us for almost a million dollars. Say’s he’s her only next of kin”. “Suing you? Why, she hadn’t been there in a month. I don’t understand.” “Well, apparently he thinks the carbon monoxide poisoning was our fault. Are you sure that it’s not you and your husband? He said his wife’s name is Kat. We thought you were her daughter, not her daughter-in-law.” “I am her daughter, and my God, her funeral is today. But, I am not even going to it, because of my nieces and all that crap. When was the last time you saw any of them? When I talked to you last, she was still there, you didn’t even call me when she went into the hospital. Susan did. So why are you calling me now? I ought to sue you, that is for damn sure. But, I had no plans to do so. Until now, now I just might.” “We most certainly did call you, it say’s right here on the chart that daughter Kat was notified by the night nurse to inform her that they were taking her to the hospital because of a possible stroke.”
“Well, I don’t know who she talked to, but it wasn’t me. If it had been, I would have gotten in my car and headed straight for Silver. I had told you that. Besides, when I talked to the day nurse the day before, she was doing fine. She was even playing bingo. So, I can promise you two things, I do not have a brother named Mike, and unless you have a direct line to Heaven or Hell, or wherever humans go to,, another realm or plane or whatever you want to call it, you can’t talk to any of her children or next of kin, except for me. Now, I am going to hang up because this is pure bullshit, but if someone is trying to say that they are her son and are suing you, then I suggest you call the police”. She slammed the phone down and stomped out of the house. Enough was enough. She got in her van, but not before Mike and his mother jumped in with her. As she drove out to the road she turned to the left at the end of the lane. “I am going to talk to Brother Bill, I don’t care if the road is washed out. I need to talk to someone who can make heads or tails of this craziness and he’s the only one I can think of. Don’t worry, I’m not running off to Silver, although, right now I would like to drive into the sunset and never look back.”
One and a half years later:
Kat is still trying to prove that she wasn’t at the hospital, that she was not the one who signed all those checks and that someone did actually indeed visit her mother’s room 45 minutes before her death, posing as next of kin, and that she did not get the phone call because of that. She realized that the dream was simply a way of letting her know that someone did indeed murder her mother, for whatever reason. That by destroying her blood testing kit, they would be destroying evidence. Perhaps to shut her up. The day before her Mother left the hospital in Kat’s home town, she told the doctor and the social worker she wanted to stay there with her daughter and not return to Silver Springs. She also told Kat that she had something to tell her, but couldn’t do it with anyone else present. When Kat asked her why, her mother told her,,” because if they know you know, they will kill you too.” Today, she still receives an occasional email from one of her nieces saying, “WE KNOW YOU ARE THE ONE WHO MURDERED HER, AND STOLED A THOUSAND DOLLARS.” The police still won’t return her calls, and nobody within the system really seems to care, that somewhere in a town in the state of Texas, an elderly lady somehow acquired ‘carbon monoxide’ poisoning while in a controlled environment, and then exactly one month later, died, almost to the minute. The real Kat and Mike have all the real proof they need to verify that they were not at the hospital and KAT knows, deep within her and with her very essence that this did indeed happen, but she can’t prove it.
The names of these people have been changed to protect the innocent, however, one name is the name of the killer, or perhaps the one behind the killing. Heaven only knows how many more people he/she will or has killed just to get a few thousand dollars.
The real Kat suffers daily from the fact that she can’t prove this. Not because she feels guilty, but because she knows that somewhere near lurks a killer and she can’t do a damned thing about it. She knows that her mother has taken that “reality trip” into the other realm. She knows that her mother is not suffering, not hurting and probably having the time of life seeing all of her friends and family that went on before she did. And she knows that her mother probably would have died on that date. After all, her belief is that when you are supposed to cross that river; take that ‘reality trip’, you will do so and not one day before or after. However, she also knows that it should not be at the hands of another human. That God and God alone should handle that. But, none of that changes the fact, that somehow, for some reason this woman and Lord knows how many others died to protect some kind of manic, or perhaps even a serial killer. She takes baby steps, she’s talked to counselors and preachers. She doesn’t need a physic, other than the dream and the bottle flying across her kitchen, there is nothing paranormal about any of this. She has talked to lawyers, even a judge, who said “I am sorry for you loss, but there is no way I can help you”.She has talked to Medicaid, Medicare, APS, and whoever else who would listen to this story. She has been told to “DROP IT, GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE.” SHE HAS BEEN TOLD, WHEN GOD SHUTS DOORS, NO ONE CAN OPEN THEM. SHE ALREADY KNOWS ALL THAT. She wants to know why, whenever benefits time rolled around, her mother would have these mysterious attacks. The real Kat is not crazy, nor obsessed, she just wants to know the story, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and IF she is right, she wants that person/persons brought to justice. Apparently by receiving that last email, which by the way, she did print up and keep, someone else knows it too. So, I ask, IS THAT TOO MUCH FOR KAT TO ASK FOR??
© A. J. Angerstein, June 08th, 2009
Article views: 8769

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