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Across The Lake

What you read here last week may have come as a surprise. It did to me. In the first place, I'd had no advance notice of my impending trip to the hospital ER, or I've had tried to avoid or delay or cancel it altogether. Secondly, I was not aware of the swift bit of collusion between my daughter and my boss that resulted in Joanne's writing showing up in this space. Reading it over, I'm going to have to worry now about losing my space.

The fact that she cranked out it out should have come as no surprise. She did it for years while working as production manager for the West Lane News in Veneta, OR, where publisher Joe Cannon put to use what Joanne had learned in high school journalism in Bismarck. They're both out of the newspaper business now: Joe is retired, and our Jo is on staff at a community college on the Oregon coast.

While she was filling the gap on page 2, I was filling a bed in ICU. Over the course of those days, I got well acquainted with Katy and Terri and Mary, no one whose last name I can recall but all of are people one would like to know better, though maybe in other circumstances. The same goes for all the other doctors and nurses and the heart guy and the lady who hooked wires to assorted parts of me and even the one who somewhere in there slipped in and put clean sheets on my bed. Nice, competent people.

Those of you who've spent time there know that a hospital stay is, among other things, boring. Watching your blood pressure is only exciting for a while, and after the third or fourth time, even those attractive young nurses lose their appeal when asking "How are WE feeling?" SHE may be feeling fine, but the patient isn't that certain, only he doesn't say so because he just wants to go home.

So he lays there, pondering. Did he fill the tank of the humidifier? Did the check for the insurance get mailed? How about sending the Netflix DVD back? Then, while hoping all these things can be remembered and asked about when My Favorite Reader gets here for her next visit, you look for a clock and wonder when she will get here, and then how will she get here if she doesn't drive and will Paula bring here again and if not, can someone else bring her down. Time passes.

As it does there are different concerns. One is knowing that your other kids are worried. Janet drives up from her Kansas home to help out and to keep her siblings posted. Like their mother, they've voiced concerns that you're overdoing and ought to cut back on some of your activities. Maybe you belong to too many things and soberly, you realize you probably do. After all, you're going to be 84 the end of this month, and maybe it really is time to get out of some things and cut down on some jobs.

Then, suddenly, you've got visitors. Wife. Boss. The word "fine" gets over-used as you describe how you're feeling, how's the food, how you're being treated, and you learn how the cats are, how the kids are. And the grand-kids. And the great-grand-daughter. You learn that you don't have to worry about reporting the school board meeting and that the man you planned to interview about his new sign business says any time it's convenient with you will be OK with him. All that's fine, too.

After they've gone, you get back to worrying. Still, when you get right down to it, at least there's no need for any thoughts while drying then dishes. Those can wait, now that you're back home, and daughter Janet is safely back to her own home in Kansas, Nathan is getting ready for his forthcoming show in that New York gallery, and the rest of the clan seems to have their own things under control. As Grandma Newcomb used to say, "God's in his Heaven -- all's right with the world."