Please Tell Me You’re Barbara Elizabeth

Why is it that emergencies don’t happen when we are sitting at home reading or watching the news?  Almost all of my emergencies happen when I’m at work.  As did this one with my father.

At the time, probably the summer or early fall of 1994, I was working as a Program Director for a non-profit agency for adults with disabilities.  My father called me at work and told me that he was really sick.  He said he had “thrown up all over the place” and asked me to come help him clean it up.  He certainly didn’t sound chipper, but he didn’t sound desperate either.

I grabbed some gloves, the kind that nurses and doctors use, and left work.  On the way I stopped at the store and picked up some ginger ale and saltines for him.

When I arrived at his house, all the shades were drawn which I thought was strange.  It was over 80 degrees, so perhaps he wanted to keep the sun out of the house.  I was greeted by a blast of hot air when I opened the front door.  He had the heat cranked up high.

And there was no vomit anywhere.

My father was sitting in the living room and the first thing he did was ask me to check on my mother who was in the other room.  But my mother wasn’t in the other room.  My mother had died in May of 1994.  How do you respond to that?  I was totally unnerved but decided to ignore him.  I called 911 and tried to go into act-as-if-you-are-at-work-and-this-isn’t-your-father mode.  I opened the curtains, turned the air conditioning on, got out his meds and arranged them on the kitchen table for the EMT’s.

When the ambulance and police arrived, my father asked them what they were doing there and told them that they should be checking on my mother.  I pretended to go check on her instead of screaming SHE’S DEAD at him.  Then, my father refused to let anybody but me touch him.

Are you kidding me???  My dad was 6’2″ and weighed over 225 pounds.  Easily.  I’m 5’2″ if I go a little on my tippy-toes when I’m being measured.  And my father refused to let anyone but me get him out of his recliner onto the gurney.  Luckily, I know how to move people without throwing out my own back, from my job.  So I helped the EMTs get him on the gurney, and then move him up the gurney so that his head was in the right place. He was very angry and was cursing at the police and EMT guys.  I finally said “Stop it right now,” in the stern voice I use with my kids.  Amazingly, he stopped.

And he was furious that I wasn’t riding in the ambulance with him.  I followed in my car but was about 5 minutes behind the ambulance as I closed up his place.  Plus I couldn’t drive a kazillion miles an hour with sirens blazing.

When I entered the Emergency Room at the Northern Westchester Hospital, I could hear my father bellowing “BARBARA ELIZABETH YOU BETTER GET YOUR ASS IN HERE NOW!”  Good Lord.

One of the nurses turned to me and said “Please tell me you’re Barbara Elizabeth.”

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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29 Responses to Please Tell Me You’re Barbara Elizabeth

  1. Liz says:

    Sometimes you have to laugh AND cry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ksbeth says:

    i have exactly the same approach, barb –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. patty Dann says:

    I can’t be laughing, but it’s so funny and not funny and searing. Is that the right word?
    You found the right words. Another beautiful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lorriedeck says:

    And like all parents everywhere, even though he wasn’t in his best mind, he knew enough to use your full name when he was upset. Ha! (shhh….I do the same to mine.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lisakunk says:

    Oh my. What a series of events. I’m glad you were able to keep your wits about you. I hope you’re getting some help and answers by now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Thank you for reading this article and commenting 😃 This was a long time ago and one of many of my memories of life with my parents. This is one that was less funny at the time than in retrospect, but I could still see the humor in it. Poor Dad, getting old is never easy.


  6. Paul says:

    Wow. I don’t know what to say. Had me scared the whole time, I almost felt guilty for laughing at the end. Your stern voice sounds a lot like my camp counsellor voice. I find it works in all occasions.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Garfield Hug says:

    This is an alarming experience Barb. I think it is rude to laugh given the frightening experience you must have had. But I laughed…sorry!! Hope he is as well as can be now

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hahhahahhahah! It doesn’t feel right to be laughing but to imagine you hollering at your dad to stop it and then the nurse hollering at you with your name in full…heheh..I can;t help it! However, he asking you to check on your mom when you came….creepy! And it’s a good thing you ignored. You can’t make up stories like this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. annieg421 says:

    Sorry I’m laughing but sometimes you have to laugh or you would cry. I guess laughing helps in scary stressful out of your control situations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Yes! It was so frightening, except thanks to my first aid training I could put the fear aside and do what needed to be done. But, man, when I walked into the hospital, I was so very annoyed, and embarrassed. But I knew then he was back to his usual self. And then the humor hit me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ann Coleman says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry you had to go through that! But I’m glad you could see the humor at the end, with your father bellowing for you to get in there, and the nurse so hopeful that you were the one he was calling for. A very poignant tale of dealing with some of the challenges that life throws at us!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. kjelldesot says:

    Hahahahaha, so funny 🙂
    just started a new blog myself go check it out first post live now!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Val says:

    Yeah, humour helps in those situations. I went through some horrible and also occasionally hilarious times with my own dad’s various illnesses and laughing was about the only way to keep going a lot of the time. By the way, I saw your reply to a comment that your dad was a colonel and his children were his troops. Mine, though not a colonel, never lost the need to command from when he was in the army in WW2, and I ‘get’ that so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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