It began as an ordinary enough morning. I awoke, went into the bathroom to take care of business. I pulled on sweats and took the dog for a walk, fed her and the cats and fixed a cup of Earl Grey tea with a wedge of Meyer lemon. I’ve had a respiratory infection and have been trying to drive the evil yuck from my upper respiratory track by any and every means possible.
I imagined myself sitting across the dining room table from Andy Wyeth discussing upcoming festivities for Groundhog Day. The only difference between his scene and mine is that no one is past my dining room window chopping wood, it is a parking space my window oversees. The price of life in a coastal beach town condo.
I looked up and noticed a car in the parking space beyond the window. The car door opened, a woman approached my breezeway, opened the door and rang the bell. My curiosity was ignited! I grabbed Gracie, my over enthusiastic and gregarious golden, turned the knob and opened the back door. My brain buzzed, my eyes spun in my head and I could have sworn I saw Marty McFly shove me into the back of a DeLorean piloted by Doc Brown! When my body settled, I was looking at an oddly familiar looking nurse-like-figure.
“My name is Mildred” she said. I waited, anticipating the next thought, sentence, word, explanation as to why shy is standing in my breezeway. Nothing… As I waited, so did Mildred. Obviously the mention of the name “Mildred” was expected to bring a reaction and/or response. It meant nothing to me.
“Ratched.” My eyebrows took that quizical stance as I mumbled, “Excuse me.” “Ratched, my name is Mildred Ratched.” Then, silence. Okay, where do I go from here? Do I say, “Congratulations,” or “Nice name,” or “and you are standing in my breezeway because…” waiting for her to fill in the blank? My forehead furrowed, my left eyebrow arched as high as it could and I chose to stare her down. Finally, after what felt like an hour the silence broke. “I’m Mildred Ratched. I’m your new home health care worker and I’m here to help you wash and get dressed for the day.” I didn’t mean to be rude, but I couldn’t help quickly glancing down. Okay, I thought, I haven’t had my shower yet, but I did run a brush through my hair and a different one around my teeth and, while not exactly business casual, I thought I WAS dressed! I maintained the quizical affect, the furrowed forehead, the arched left brow and added a slight squint while tilting my head and turning from side to side like a pigeon before settling in to wait her out again. (Don’t ask where that pigeon reference came from)
The absence of sound was once again broken by Mildred’s voice… “I spoke to your son yesterday. He said you lived in #108.” Mildred is now doing with the right corner of her mouth what I have been doing with my left eyebrow, as if to say, “they didn’t tell me she had dementia.”
My face indicated that a light had indeed gone on – must have been a CFL bulb as the light was a little slow to reach my brain. “Mildred, I do not have a son, this is #208 not #108 and I am not receiving home health care services.” Mildred replied, “Oh.” turned around got in her car and drove away. I felt that buzz in my head again and landed back in my kitchen after another quick trip in the DeLorean. If Mildred was a foreshadowing, I am afraid, I am very afraid. As she backed out of the parking space she gave me a terminator look, “I’ll be back.”
I looked all through the literature. This was not listed in any of the information on that antibiotic zip-pak. I am going to maintain a positive attitude. I am going to tell myself that Mildred needs a GPS and this is not a forewarning of things to come. There is not a Nurse Ratched in my future, there is not a Nurse Ratched in my future, there is not a Nurse Ratched in my future… and no more rides in that DeLorean, McFly!!!
Photo Credits: 1. Groundhog Day, a painting by Andrew Wyeth; 2. Louis Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest