Lévis Hospital, waiting for my father’s return from his treatment. It is often said to stay away from hospitals, not only because they are the crucible of all infections but also because they ostensibly present the condition of the living. Fortunately, our species takes care of its weak, at least in countries that can afford it.
I have the regulatory mask because the current pandemic, with new outbreaks of its congeners, is still destabilizing the hospital world. It is a nuclear war among respiratory viruses as if they perceived that humans were out of breath.
I am waiting for my father when a weak voice is heard, and I need help understanding what it says. The second time is more apparent, and I immediately spot where it comes from. There, at the corner of a corridor, the slipped feet of a lady sitting in a wheelchair.
I don’t move, at first, because I figure there is staff nearby who will surely help her. But those staff quickly walk past her, without stopping.
Her complaint sounds like a kitten’s meow, the kind that melts your heart with empathy. I get up to see what’s wrong with her.
The old lady, screwed up, looks up at me as I arrive.
"Please take me to my room..."
Flabbergasted, I meet the eyes of a nurse nearby. Seeing that I am about to do something non-medical, she approaches us. The traits on her face politely tell me to mind my own business.
"Don’t worry, little lady, your transport is coming soon." Then turning on her heels after smiling coldly at me, gesturing with her hand for me to sit back down.
What is it with all of them, infantilizing old people like that? I remembered what the doctor said to my father a few months ago: "We don’t know what’s wrong with you, and you are a particular case. It may not be much, but if it’s cancer, the mother tumour hasn’t shown up yet.
The mother tumour... (in French, it sounds like: mom, you die)
My father is 88 years old. He has seen enough in his life to be explained as an adult what he could have. But I digress.
I sit down again, but the lady is still impatient, making her insistent complaint.
In another corridor, an angry voice calls out. "No waaaaay!" It sounds like a shell burst as the man shouts louder and louder, then falls silent, only to start again a few seconds later. He is probably delirious.
As for the staff, both in front of the lady and at the counters, in the corridors, they pay no attention.
They are probably immune; they must be coldly empathetic. I don’t sense any impatience on their part; instead, they keep smiling, say hello to each other, make jokes and then go on their way. At the same time, the lady keeps begging to be taken back to her room.
The door to the vociferator’s room is finally closed. We can now hear his protests as if they were trying to smother him with a pillow. Maybe it is... We see so many of these days... If there is war in Ukraine, there may well be trenches in our hospital rooms...
Just as the door from which my father had entered for his treatment opened, a handsome nurse arrived near the lady.
"Hello, I’ll take you to your room."
He did not say "little lady." There is hope, and I fall in love with his youth.
My father smiles at me. I arrive with his wheelchair.
There is hope for him too.
I am happy to help him. My little daddy of love...
No, no, don’t worry. I do it on purpose for this text.
In my heart, actions, and words, I am the son who is aware of the long walk his father has taken before me.
Life goes on.