Ted's Thirty Day Awakening
Alexa did not wake Ted this morning. Today, he was stirred from his slumber by the arrival of breakfast—such as it was. And greeted by the awful realization that he actually was in hospital. Last night, he had held out hope it had all just been a lucid dream. Turns out, he had been in a coma and had for well over 190 hours.
As Ted ate he made a mental note to research why hospital food is so…so um…even the writer in him couldn’t think of a fitting word, bland was the best he could do. Ted recalled reading a study somewhere that claimed the reason people complain so much about airplane food was due to the noise in the plane, not the quality of the food. Those same meals, eaten in a nice quiet setting, always scored better than their in-flight cousins. Unfortunately, Ted’s dislike of breakfast foods, in general, ensured the meal would be less than satisfying no matter how delicious it actually was. He was not a fan of pancakes and scrambled (eggs), he would rather have pizza or better yet, enchiladas.
With quite a bit of food still on his plate, Ted covered it up and pushed it aside. Then, out of habit, he reached for his iPad only to be greeted by a stack of books. Ted smiled. “Thanks, mom.” He picked up the top book which turned out to be The Panama Canal, one of ten books in a series title Landmarks of America History. Over the years, Ted had read each book in the series at least twenty times. He was not sure when he first acquired the books, nor could he recall if they were a birthday or Christmas present, but he did know that even to this day, he loved reading them.
Ted opened the book and was transported back in time. “The dream of a waterway through that slender cord of mountains and high jungle which unites North and South America—the Isthmus of Panama—first took shape in the mind of…” And less than 30 minutes later, Ted was on the last page reading “…dreamers who ranged down the generations from Columbus to Theodore Roosevelt…and doers as different in time and temperament as Pedrarias, whose slaves built the first Isthmus path, to Goethals, whose associates managed, after the failure of the French, to deepen that path into a waterway short-cut through which nations and men may know one another better than before.”
As Ted set the book aside and reached to pick up the next one in the stack, he heard Miss Brooks asking one of the nurses, “Is my son up yet?”
For the next hour, Ted listened as his parents recounted everything from getting the phone call to moving everything from his condo into storage to what they had for breakfast this morning. Staying true to the family mantra “Children should be seen but not heard,” Ted only asked questions in his mind. And for the second time this morning, he was transported back in time by his parent’s tennis storytelling. How he missed the unique way in which they co-told a story.
For years Ted had wanted to film them telling a tale but with them using newscast phrases every time they passed off the storytelling. “And now with more details…” or “Thank you for that insightful perspective…” For fun, Ted added in the phrases in his mind, which caused him to giggle.
The conversation stopped. Ted’s parents gave him an inquisitive look. “Oh, no,” Ted said. “I was thinking about something—go on.”
“Like how funny it would be if we told the story like newscasters?” Mom asked with a grin.
“Believe it or not we made a video,” Dad said.
“With help from a few of your friends,” Mom added.
“You’re kidding. I have got to see it!”
“We were going to give it to you for your birthday,” Dad said.
“Once you are out of hospital,” Mom added, “we’ll let you see it.”
“Is it online? Do you know where? I’ve got to see it.”
“Online…how would I know? You know I have never understood this internet thing.” Mom said. “Newspapers, books, TV,” (‘Before remote controls with a million buttons,’ Dad injected.) mom continued, “radio, those I know. Internet, not so much.”
“Promise me that the minute I get out of here you will show me that video.”
Ted’s parents smiled and nodded. Who knew that a video of his parents telling a story would fill Ted with more anticipation than that he had known as a toddler waiting for Santa Clause. “Now I can’t wait to get out of here!”
“Why did we spend so much money buying this kid gifts?” Dad asked. “All we had to do was film ourselves having a conversation and give him that.”
“Imagine the beer money I would have had,” Mom added. (Beer money was a family phrase, whenever there was extra cash at the end of the month, Mom called it her beer money.)
Ted’s smile ran from ear to ear. And, for the first time in his life, he was looking forward to seeing a doctor. He wanted to know just how soon he could leave this place.
Later that afternoon, Ted was thrilled when the doctor said, “barring any unforeseen events, you should be able to go home tomorrow.
“Tomorrow. I’ll be going home tomorrow,” Ted thought. And then it hit him, there was no home to be going home to.