I was sitting in the hospital chair in the corner suite. Through the metal blinds and milky window I could a see a few miles away where the tower from the local shopping center emerged over the pine trees. My mother had knee surgery. She had needed it for years. The doctor said, “Imagine a chicken wing. Do you know that rubbery shiny stuff between the bone? You don’t have that in your knee. The surgery was good!”
My mother was still on her pain meds sitting up in her chair. Laree, my sister-in-law in law, had driven from Madison that morning and arrived early to be there for my mother’s physical therapy. I met Laree in the room and we spent a few minutes together with my mother before Laree headed back to Madison. My mother looked at me and Laree and said proudly, “Do you see this yellow band they put on me?” She held it up. It says, “Flight risk. I’m a flight risk.” Laree leaned in and looked closer at the band.” Claire, that doesn’t say flight risk. That says fall risk.”
“Oh, that makes more sense,” my mother said.
For some reason, I could not quit laughing. We all laughed. I’m not sure it was the picture of my mother imagining herself dashing and darting her way past nurses and out of the hospital on a knee should be barely lift or the sudden realization we all feel at times that we are not who we thought we were. It’s the awful and funny feeling that in this moment we need more assistance than we do restraint. Thankfully, her knees is getting better. I know my mom and she’s strong and willful. She’s likely not to be a flight risk anytime soon, but she will certainly find her new step.