Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Comin’ in from “The Edge…”
Random Thoughts on a Souper-Bowl Sunday

Thought I’d have fun with a little word-play and the fact that I’m writing my column during the pre-game show of the Super Bowl. Spell-check kept wanting to change “souper” into “super,” though…but I finally got it to cooperate!

This has been a “souper-bowl” week for me because soup is all I’ve wanted to eat. I’ve been sick with the flu -- with chills, fever, a cough that could clear out a subway car, and almost no appetite. My mom got the flu, too, and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. So, since my fever broke on Wednesday, I’ve been spending lunchtime through dinnertime in the hospital with her…and had to cancel my Wednesday night “Broads on Broadway” stand-up gig at Caroline’s – which I’d have had to cancel, anyway, because of my cough.

I got to do a lot of people-watching during mom’s hospital stay, and interestingly enough, for the most part, daytime television seems to have gotten it right!

Mom was in the hospital for seven days and had three different roommates, with each of them offering a different human drama.

Her first roommate was an eighty-three year old woman, who, according to her daughter-in-law, had never been sick a day in her life, till she turned 79 and broke her hip. In the four years which followed, she’d also suffered a stroke, broken her leg and had endured a steady decline into a dementia…till she could no longer be understood.

She’d been in the hospital for six weeks, now, because of her leg, and every day at lunch and dinner, a different family member came to feed her with food they’d prepared and brought from home. In the afternoons, one of her sisters came, and in the evenings it was her daughter-in-law’s turn.

The woman had lived with her son and daughter-in-law during the entire 25 years of their marriage. Now, while this might be a pretty regular occurrence for core-families in soap operas, I hadn’t given much thought to how frequently that happens in real life.
And even though this woman wasn’t related to her by blood, I saw her eyes fill with tears every evening over the condition of her mother-in-law.

My mom’s second roommate was a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties. She had been traveling out of the country and had returned home with some “mystery” disease that they at first thought might be malaria. She was always getting lab work done.

Her third roommate was a woman who appeared to be in her forties, and who exemplified “morbid obesity” in a way that allowed me to fully appreciate the gravity of the term. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but hospital rooms aren’t exactly designed for privacy.

Evidently, the woman had come down with the flu around the same time I had. Her x-rays showed that her lungs were clear, though, so there was no pneumonia. But her weight had exacerbated her symptoms to the point that her doctor had admitted her to monitor her vital signs.

The slender, stylish woman visiting her the day she was admitted, turned out to be the woman’s mother who, upon leaving, commented to me (within hearing distance of her daughter), “You know, as a parent, you never want to have to bury your child…I don’t know what’s going to happen to her.”

Just then, medical transport arrived to take my mom to the rehabilitation center where she’ll spend the next several weeks building up her strength to become ambulatory enough to come home, again. This woman’s saga will be yet another unresolved cliff-hanger.

Yep, life is just one big old soap opera…with each of us – to greater and lesser degrees – playing different characters in each other’s story lines. Sometimes we’ll never know how the story ends, but in some way, we’re still affected.

Then every once in awhile, we get to witness a surprise ending that no one would ever have predicted…like the Giants winning the Super Bowl!

Who’d a thunk-it?

Evidently, the Giants did.

Keep believin’!

Mariann will be appearing at Caroline’s on Comedy Club, 1626 Broadway (at 50 th St ) in New York City ( www.carolines.com ) on Monday, February 11 at 7 pm. For Reservations call 212-757-4100. Mention that you’re coming to see Mariann and get the “Friends and Family” rate of just $5.00 on the cover charge.

(Mariann also blogs at Lee Bailey’s Electronic Urban Report)

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