Dad passed away many years ago. I’ve written quite a few columns about him: his building the grand picnic table in the basement that wouldn’t fit through the basement door to the back yard; sanding the bathroom door at the top rather than the bottom to fit over the new bathroom rug. The best, in my humble opinion, was his comment about my getting a car: “Girls don’t need their own cars.”
It amazes me that some memories of Dad still float into my consciousness, and don’t have to be triggered by an event or a comment from someone. This one is typical Dad.
His voice had become raspy—he was a smoker—and he finally went to see his doctor. A polyp was discovered on one of his vocal chords and had to be surgically removed. The surgery went well; he returned to his hospital room where Mom and I were waiting. I knew his nurse, Joan, from community meetings, etc.
“Mr. Batchie, you cannot talk for at least a week. Your throat needs to heal, and you need to be quiet. I’ve left a pad and pencil on your tray table that you can use to correspond to your family and I’ll be checking in on you.” Joan was a sweetie, but could be tough as nails when needed.
A while later, Dad started to get out of bed—this was just the beginning. “Where do you think you’re going!” demanded Mom. He motioned to the bathroom. She quickly got him back in bed and rang for the nurse. Dad’s “needs” were taken care of privately.
Stubborn, stubborn man kept trying to speak. “Dad, you cannot talk! Write down what you want.” He gave me a swift dismissal with his hand. He wouldn’t stop; he wouldn’t write on the pad and we didn’t know what he was trying to say.
Joan came into the room to check on him. Mom and I tattled on Dad and told her he was trying to talk and wouldn’t stop. Joan leaned down and in a deadly quiet voice issued her not-so veiled threat:
“Mr. Batchie, you have such a handsome mustache. If you don’t shut up, I am going to put tape over that mustache and pull it off as quickly as I can. You’ll be very, very sorry! Do you understand?” Who knows, maybe this is how “waxing” came to be!
Finally someone had stood up to Dad and he had no choice but to listen. Mom and I thought that he might have taken her threat seriously--he was a quiet, good patient for the rest of his stay.
Mom worked so when Dad came home, he was alone. When I’d check in on him, he’d use the pad & pencil. I wouldn’t stay long because I knew he was totally frustrated with his lot in life. To help keep him occupied during the day, we bought him a 500-piece puzzle which he spread over the dining room table and diligently worked on every day. In fact, he completed two puzzles! He was quite content being alone during the day. No need to mention though how happy he was when Mom came home. His recovery went smoothly; a few years later, he quit smoking.
Joan had been our tough voice of reason. We needed someone strong to face down our stubborn, feisty father. She came to his/our rescue!