A funny hospital story was told me by my friend Harmon. His dad Bernie was fighting for his life. The old man’s pain was unendurable. “Harmon, pull the plug — pull the plug! Please!”
Harm, overwhelmed, kept silent.
Finally, he took a deep breath, and uttered, “Gee dad, I don’t know what to say, except, there is no plug.”
Indeed, the patient’s body, unsupported by technology, had a mind of its own. Bernie got out of the hospital and lived.
My friend Dan says that at the end of life you should make a “clean getaway,” as robbers sometimes do in cowboy movies. No fuss, over and out. Not that we get a choice, but I’m with Dan on this.
We are afraid of hospitals: tests, questions, and tears; sick people, contagion, and death. As a harried psychiatrist once said to a nurse on a closed psychiatric unit, “Keep my patients away from me!” More than he could bear, I guess.
There is only one perfect thing about hospitals, one not associated with dread: hospitals are places where babies are born. These newbies, if they look as contented as the little guy above, are about the best thing. I’m tempted to wax eloquent, but all the lyrical, unforgettable, and heart-stopping comments have long since been written.
Only one line in the antique span of history hasn’t been said about babies, until now.
Welcome to the world, William Hebert Stein, my grandson.