Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Familiarity in a strange and scary place

Between the ages of four and six, I spent significant amounts of time in a hospital. Last Friday, we returned to the same institution, Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, to visit my father. It was our five-year-old son who provided the most poignant reminder of what hospitals do to all who enter them.

When I was a munchkin, kids generally didn't visit folks who had been admitted. One parent would stay with the little people in the waiting room. We often didn't even go to the floor: we'd simply hang out in the lobby while our parents alternated visiting upstairs.

Times have changed. We felt it was important to give the kids a chance to see their grandfather. We felt they were old enough to understand that people get sick, that they go to hospitals to hopefully get better, and it's a good deed to visit them when they're there.

Little man clung to my wife when we first arrived. He was likely tired from the 9-hour drive. He was also overwhelmed by the strange sights and smells of this very alien place. By the time he got to his Zaydie's room (zaydie = Yiddish word for "grandfather") his very perceptive antennae were already up.

So he did what any little guy would do: seek comfort in the shoulder of the person who most matters in his young life - Mom.

After a few minutes of gentle prompting, he began to surreptitiously sneak peeks from his perch. His Zaydie told him a joke. He smiled and chuckled a little. His grip around my wife's neck loosened. His Zaydie told him another one. He laughed the laugh that only a little munchkin can laugh: from the belly. He let go of my wife completely, sat in the chair beside the bed and bantered with my father.

In the middle of a strange place, Noah managed to find a way to connect with his grandfather. By the time we turned to say goodbye, it didn't matter to him that he was in a drearily-lit hospital room. The packaging of where he was mattered less than the substance of who he was with.

10 comments:

Prego said...

I hope your pops is getting well.

I spent a lot of time in the hospital when my mom got sick. I managed to tell her that my wife was expecting about two weeks before she passed. I've since felt that moment to be the connection between my mom and my firstborn.

p

Star said...

I bet that visit did your Dad a world of good. Hope he's better soon.

~A~ said...

Positive thoughts for a quick return to health for your dad.

Heather said...

I hope your dad feels better soon. Kids are great, aren't they?

Plumkrazzee said...

Just wanted to tell you to drop by and read my post today....

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a very sweet loving story Carmi...I dearly hope your father is better soon...(I may have missed if you said why he is in the Hospital...sorry if I did...) Hospitals can certainly be scary for young kids...it's wonderful that your son and his Zaydie cut through all that! Wonderful Wonderful.

Sandy said...

My prayers are with your dad. Never easy to see someone we love sick.

deana said...

I am glad they changed the rules. Even with the siblings and their newborn brother or sister. I think they should see them in the hospital.

When I was 2 my mom said they snuck me through the window to see my "nannie" who had a heartattack. (the hospital then was one floor). She said we were both delighted to see each other. Before my papa died they let my sister bring my baby niece Izzy in to see him, he was crazy over her, he called her "lil' Lizza Jane" and we were all pleased he got to see her again before he passed away.

deana said...

...and I hope your father's health gets better.

Howard Muhlberg said...

What a beautiful, poignant post!

Yes, leave it to children to, as Thoreau put it, "front only the essential facts of life".