NOTE: While this next post is not about Maine, it takes place in Maine. What happened below could have happened pretty much anywhere. Like in Arizona. But, then my comments about beaches and moose wouldn't make all that make sense. As if any of this does.
ADDENDUM: I'd like to give a "shout-out" to the one reader I noticed from Belize. I love Belize. Mayan ruins, howler monkeys, and their own brand of beer. Seriously, what's not to love?
APPENDIX: I had one. It's gone. Still don't know what it was good for anyway. It's a lot like the Vice-President that way. Or Ryan Seacrist.
My father-in-law neglected to check the “Date of Birth” block on his driver’s license while on vacation in Maine a few months back.
Maine is an unbelievably beautiful state. Whether it’s leisurely walks along pristine beaches, browsing for antiques in quaint seaside villages, cracking open the ubiquitous lobster (preferably dead), or exploring dense woodlands rich with wildlife such as moose and lost New Yorkers, “Vacationland” is certainly the way life should be.
My father-in-law did everything the brochures recommended. But, with “Papa,” a little bit of relaxation goes a long way. So, to give his week of rest and relaxation a little “zing,” he exhibited a casual disregard for his personal safety. With an enthusiasm belying his eighty year old frame, he mounted the equally ancient frame of the rusty bicycle behind his camper.
Sadly, while he may have once been “Schwinn Poster Boy” during the Eisenhower administration, poor ole Papa now belongs on a bicycle as much as Paris Hilton belongs at a Mensa meeting. Unfortunately, the passage of time wasn’t enough to dissuade this geriatric Evel Knievel from saddling up his pedal-powered steed and wobbling down the nearest bike path.
Unfortunately, the abrupt collision with the ground as he and said “steed” collapsed like cardboard lawn furniture did.
Stubbornly insisting he was okay, he tried to dust himself off and once more mount his two-wheeler. Despite his best efforts, though, he remained under the heap of his bicycle, a victim of that malady most commonly associated with the senior years-a broken hip. Or, more specifically, a fractured femur just as it enters the hip bone.
Needless to say, even Papa couldn’t shrug this episode off with Tylenol and a nap. Figuring walking was one of life’s more important skills, he grudgingly consented to a trip to the hospital to get patched up. That lobster dinner would have to wait until next summer.
The operation went well. Ever the stoic, he insisted that he be given a local anesthetic, rather than being knocked completely out. He figured that the surgeon would need him to be awake to monitor the operation’s progress and offer any suggestions. Plus, Papa never liked to miss an opportunity to chat, never mind that his lower body would be cut open like a flounder at dinnertime.
Following his surgery, he proudly proclaimed to one and all that his fracture was a “clean break.” I’ve always heard that if you suffer a “clean” break, that’s a good thing. That may be true, but I lump that cheerful little aphorism into the same category as “Heat lightning can’t hurt you.” and “Sand sharks don’t bite.”
Yep, you may be right, but you’ll excuse me if I don’t check it out for myself.
Anyway, hobbled as he was, Papa became the favorite of the ward. Never wanting to bother anyone, he took care of himself as best as he could. Shoot, I’ve heard a rumor that he actually helped one of the nurses take his roommate’s stitches out.
He cheerfully told anyone within earshot tales of his life and relished the opportunity to brag about his family and tease those younger than he that you just “gotta be tough.”
At the same time, he sheepishly admitted that what he tried to do wasn’t very smart and proclaimed his bike-riding days were at an end (the fact that they were actually at an end in the 20th Century never occurred to him.).
Since the staff sincerely appreciated his cheerful attitude, they gradually let him do a lot for himself. So, it wasn’t unusual that, on the day prior to his discharge, they dropped off a collection of unmarked bottles and a basin of water to help freshen up.
When asked what all the bottles were for, he was informed they were just basic toiletries. Since he couldn’t move around to the bathroom, the nurses told him to wash himself up in bed. Granted, it wouldn’t be the same as standing under a hot shower, but it would be far more effective than being hosed down with Febreeze.
In his typical “can-do” manner, Papa promised his nurse he’d get right to it and reached over to one of his bottles. Thus relieved of this particular duty, the nurse pulled his curtain shut to give him a little privacy.
A half hour later, she returned. Flinging aside the curtain, she asked Papa if he was done.
Sure enough, he said, although he didn’t need every bottle she brought.
That was odd, the nurse thought. She glanced at his bedside table and saw that, next to a damp washcloth, only one of the bottles had been used. Suddenly, she sniffed the air.
“Wow, it smells really fresh in here.” She bent lower toward his bed. “You smell really fresh. Almost minty. Wow.”
“I know, that soap you people gave me was too strong. Not like I use back home.”
Momentarily distracted from his breezy dissertation on hometown soap, the nurse took a glance at the one that was used. Oh.
“Is this the bottle you used to wash yourself?” She held it up.
He nodded yes.
A smile curling around her lips, she told him, “This is your mouthwash.”
Giving no indication that he did anything even remotely embarrassing, my father-in-law fixed the nurse with an exasperated look.
Very calmly, but with an air that left no doubt who he thought the real simpleton was, he said, “Well, that’s to protect my body from the germs that cause gingivitis.”
He checked out that day.