Death of Four
The chair squeaked and groaned as the artificial leather stuck to my limbs while I tried to get comfortable. The light commercial grade blanket scratched at the stubble on my cheek and the foam pillow had to be restrained physically to keep it from popping across the room from under my head. The lights though semi dark cast just enough illumination to shadow everything in a blanket of dark gray, ghostlike and eerie in the three o’clock silence of the lonely wards. My bed had been this easy-boy chair on wheels for the past three weeks and as long as my mother needed me I vowed it would continue to be my bed until the end.
Trying to sit without making too much noise I stood and looked down on this women who had been there for me my whole life, from birth to now she was the one person, the constant, the never changing light of my life. As I brushed the thinning snow white hair away from her brow and covered her shoulders with the bed clothes that had slipped down I forced back the tears that were always on the edge of my eyelids since this ordeal had begun. I said a prayer for back then I still believed in prayer and church and faith, and climbed back into my makeshift easy-boy chair bed to try once more to sleep. My mind replayed the day, how the doctors once more had came to her bedside and gave their general opinion that they were not sure where the cancer was but would continue the chemo-therapy anyway, how I had tried to get her to eat just one more bite of her food with promises of a wheelchair ride to the children’s and maternity wing. Mom sure loved babies, I guess after raising nine kids she must have.
Sleep finally took me in a series of short naps each one a little longer then the last as if I were afraid that I would be awakened, and my subconscious fears of this soon proved to be a reality. The voice of the nurse accompanied by the ray of the flashlights held in her hand startled me out of the last stolen nap that may have been at least 30 or 40 minutes long…
“Mr. Perry” I felt a slight nudge to my shoulder, “Mr. Perry, someone here to see you.”
I sat up hastily and heard the groan of the squeaky chair springs as I did so and first thought was to look to see if I had awoken my Mom, but she slept peacefully for a change filled with the medications of the day. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes for a second and standing followed the night nurse, without even thinking of asking questions, as she led me down the corridor to a visitor’s waiting room. Here too the lights were dimmed but not dim enough to make out the uniform of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police or Mounties as we called them. The brown pants with the trademark yellow stripes down the legs, the jacket with the Sam Browne belt crossing the chest, the short trimmed hair and of course their famous round felt hat. It wasn’t the ceremonial red jacketed uniform but it was an official one.
I paused before I reached him and pretending to tie a shoe, I contemplated why he was here and how he had found me. I wasn’t in any trouble with the law, so I knew it wasn’t me, I though will by youngest brother Jim was coming to town on his motorcycle and maybe him and my other brother had got arrested for DUI or brawling, I wouldn’t put it pass them. Sunday was to be my Mothers 57th birthday so all the family was on Prince Edward Island, most of us lived in Nova Scotia, for her birthday. Straightening up I found my reserve of courage and finished the walk to stand before the sober looking officer of the law.
He held out his hand to me and held it firmly as after he told me who he was and asked if I was Felix LeRoy Perry and quoted my home address. I nodded still not sure where this was going or what he was about to say. When the words left his mouth though I knew without a doubt it was true and our baby brother, only 18 was dead. The officer gave me as many details as he could, the boy and his girlfriend wiped out on the highway and though she was thrown clear he was dragged and bounced about fifty to a hundred feet down the highway…DOA was the verdict of the hospital. Sue his girlfriend survived but would be in physical and emotional pain for the rest of her life.
Still in shock I got my jacket from my mother’s room and it was only then I noticed the looks of compassion on the nurses faces. They had known, one came up to me and told me to go do what I had to do they would take turns sitting with her until I returned. Death had struck me and now it was my turn to be the messenger of death. The RCMP officer refused to let me drive and insisted on chauffeuring me as I drove from hotel to hotel, relative and friend to round up all my brothers and sisters.
Reaching the lobby of the hospital though I was hit by another irony of nature or cosmic interference or what ever you chose to call it. I pulled the officer back around the hallway corner as I seen my older brother at the sign in desk with my Dad. Somehow I managed to get Moe’s attention without my father seeing me and when he was out of sight and hearing I told him what had happened. We both agreed the best thing to do would be for Moe to get the admitting doctor alone and have Dad put in, he was having heart pain and we feared the shock of telling him this so late might be too much. We would tell both our parents together in the morning with family, priest, and doctor present. Now it was my job to go tell the other brothers and sisters that we had lost the first one from out family of ten kids.