Sixteen years ago, March 24th fell on a Monday… the day my nearly 90-year-old mother fell and fractured her femur… the final, full 24 hour day she lived in her home of 42 years.
Within mere minutes of my summoning an ambulance, we both could hear the approaching siren’s Doppler shift… the increase in volume. Once parked out front, the flashing red lights began casting their surreal, subdivision-wide strobe effect.
The EMTs did what they do best… rapidly evaluated and prepped their patient. As the midnight hour neared, they wheeled Mom out on a gurney, I locked up, started up my backed into the garage car, idled the engine in the lower driveway and awaited to join them on our ride to the local, nearby hospital. Even at normal highway speeds, our ETA would be five minutes, tops. At the stroke of midnight, we were on our way.
Since I knew sirens could easily, overly stress out my mother, I had requested they not use them unless the situation became a life or death matter. I was so relieved that her condition permitted them to heed my heads up.
Long sigh… within a week of successful surgery to repair her fractured leg, pneumonia had set in. Her advanced years and one year earlier heart attack all conspired to make her chances for rallying slim to none.
Mom’s ambulance ride, eventually, turned out to be a one way trip. Her Earthly Home left behind, the sequence of her rapidly changing forwarding addresses had become… Nursing Home… Funeral Home… Eternal Home.
This past Sunday, the 24th, from my own perspective, I could not help but dwell upon Mom’s final 24 hours in her home… the home I wound up inheriting. By early evening, I had wound up falling asleep on the living room sofa. But… oddly enough… with this day’s final five minutes rapidly ticking down… I had awoken… instantly cognizant of that timing’s significance. I threw open the front door and made my exit into the still of the night…standing on the dimly street lit porch… my eyes panning the entire neighborhood… my mind time tripping to that not so distant past.
At the stroke of midnight… just as I was about to turn to go back inside… I could hardly believe my own eyes. An ambulance was driving on by… traveling along the very same highway… in the same southerly direction… at the posted speed limit… no flashing reds… no siren…
And while there would’ve been no reason to be following them in my car this time… I did follow them with my eyes. And once they were no longer in sight… my gaze averted upwards… to the heavens…