Friday, August 18, 2006

the trip to Amarillo was nice - the weather there was in the high 70s - it was overcast and seemed very much like winter - i think the low for the night was in the low 60s - when we got into town on tuesday afternoon - we reserved our hotel room - we stayed at the quality inn suites off 40 - we couldn't check in until 2pm so we went to the walmart so i could get some long pants - as i didn't realize that men were also under the long pants rule and i only brought shorts - got back to the hotel and checked in and then showered and went out to dinner - got back to the hotel in time to watch big brother and both fell asleep during the program and woke up at 5:30 am - got showered and dressed - had breakfast at the hotel and then drove over to the prison - we had driven by on tuesday when we got into town so we would know how to get there wednesday morning and wouldn't feel rushed -
we got at the prison - he is in the bill clements unit - there were prisoners outside tending to the flowers - once inside the guardshack - we had to wait while they checked us out - normal visitation hours are on saturday and sunday - then they lead us through the prison - the infirmary is in the 'belly' of the prison - they walked us among prisoners - and i must say i was a little nervous - what with sisters giant 'bassooms', even though she tried to corral them - but we made it through without incident -

once we got to the infirmary they stopped us at the nurses station - as we stood there looking around and waiting - i saw his room directly across from the nurses desk - his name was written on a piece of paper - Rash, Wendal - 622482 - 1200CC fluid restriction - the door was closed - there was a vertical window approximately 16" long and 8" wide on the left side of the door - a slot for placing his food tray beneath - and there sitting in a hospital type recliner - covered with a woven white cotton blanket - peeking out from under the blanket was an old familiar face - he looked so old and small -

they opened the door and led us into the room and brought two chairs for us to sit in - we were surprised that they encouraged us to sit next to him and touch and hug him - which we did - sister sat on one side and i sat on the other - along the opposite wall was a small twin size bed with white sheets another cotton blanket and a single pillow - there were two vertical windows in the room - one on each side of the the back wall - they looked out into the inner courtyard - which had west texas style plants and flowers -

his eyes brightened the moment he realized we were there - and i do believe he knew we were there - they reminded us he could only have 1200 cc of fluid a day - which is the equivalent of four small cups of coffee in the styrofoam cups - he seemed overly excited to be getting a soda and chose a sprite - sister also bought him a soft peanut butter cookie - and a milky way - most all of his teeth are now gone and he finds it hard to eat anything other than mush - at first i just thought he was having trouble forming words - and i am still not sure that wasn't what was happening - but he was very disoriented - he kept looking at the doorway and smiling and even laughing at some points - then he would say 'Naw' very loud - or 'you're shitting me' - we told him that his daughter, ladonna, wanted to come see him and he got very aggitated and began shaking his head - no - it was hard for him to form words - sister continued to sit on one side and i on the other and we just sat there taking turns stroking his hands or arms - his left arm tending to quiver and shake uncontrollably - his arms are covered in tattoos - from wrist to elbow - elaborate colorful dragons and devils - fire and brimstone - i told him i had thought about getting a tattoo - what did he think - he pursed his lips and shook his head - NO - there wasn't much conversation on his part - so we spent most of the time telling him about the family - how big everyones kids are - things we did as kids - how well the reunion turned out and how pleased we were with the turnout -
we stayed approximately 2 1/2 hours - we only left because he was getting very tired and wanted to lay down - we hugged and kissed him goodbye and left - the drive home was very hard and emotional.

the bad - he is unable to form words - his thoughts drift from exclamations to counting - he spent a lot of the conversation counting - sister said she thought he was counting what money he had in his account - i thought he was counting the days left to his parole and release - his left arm would jerk and spasm - his skin is very yellow - i actually saw it as tan - but sister said it was yellow - he has a skin cancer lession on his right side cheek - though he wasn't at the time, the nurse told sister he has to wear diapers but she didn't put him in them that day cause she didn't want to embarass him - he got sick when we went to leave and threw up all over himself and started to cry - oh, that was hard - he would seem to understand what we were talking about and then become frustrated when he couldn't form the words of his reply - he would clench his right fist and try to sound out the words -

the doctor came in while we were there - he is a very compassionate man - he told us that wendals liver is not absorbing the toxins in his body and so his body is going into shock and shutting down - the nurse - mrs moore, is very good and dotes on wendal like he was a child - i can tell she has the same level of compassion - she said he has gradually gotten worse each day -

neither sister or i wanted to leave - but it was very hard to stay and i personally just wasn't sure how much longer i could hold in the tears and not cry in front of him - neither of us cried in his presense - we just sat and held him -
as we left the infirmary - they encouraged us to hug and kiss him goodbye, which we did as he lay in his bed - we both broke down once we got outside the infirmary - the lady gaurd stopped us and comforted us both patting us on the back and telling us it would be alright and that they would look after him - which is also what the nurses all said - the guard took us to see the chaplain and he took us into a conference room and explained to us what would happen when wendal died - what he would do and what the prison would do -

then we left and started home - it seemed further back home than it did there -

i don't know what lies ahead - i pray that there is a miracle - i pray that he will be released of his pain - i feel that momma and daddy and nannie and pawpaw and gran and peepaw and billy bud are there with him and at the same time i want to scream at them all to go on and leave because he isn't ready yet - not yet - not now -

on the return trip, we talked to shannon and ladonna and told them both that he loved them - we also told him that they sent their love -


Anonymous said...

I know I've commented a lot already since finding your blog yesterday; but I couldn't stop from commenting on this entry. I know it's been a bit back that you posted this, but I was so moved by what you wrote and so sorry that your brother and loved one's had to go through this pain. But it was also uplifting to hear about the obvious true compassion and care that the prison/dr./nurse exhibited. You're a very talented writer. You should put these writing's into book-form. Really. :)

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