Facing Mark's Mortality


               David and Estelle are standing beside the bed. Mark is
               wearing an oxygen mask, and he's hooked up to a heart
               monitor and and IV pole. He is propped up on pillows while
               He sleeps fitfully, groaning and moving occasionally.
               Estelle holds his hand and weeps quietly.

                              It's a good thing that you were
                              right there to give him CPR, mom.
                              You're a terrific nurse. You saved
                              his life.

               Estelle kisses her husband's limp hand, and speaks quietly,
               almost to herself.

                              I may have saved his life, but for
                              how long? the doctor says that his
                              heart is damaged. I'm glad he
                              retired a year ago. Now he can
                              just take it easy, regain his

                              Now that I've graduated from
                              school, I can stay home and help
                              you take care of dad.

                              The doctor says that he can go
                              home in a couple of weeks. You'll
                              have all of December with him
                              before you go to Orillia.

                              Mrs. Maxwell told you about that?
                              I wasn't going to say anything
                              for now. I might put off going

                              You will do no such thing!!
                              Becoming a cop has been your dream
                              since you were just a kid. Your
                              dad would never want you to give
                              that up. You're only going to be
                              gone a week, and then you'll be
                              back home and on the job as a

                              I know, but I'll have to spend
                              some time in Aylmer at the Police
                              College taking the courses I'll
                              need to take the final exam in a
                              year's time. I don't like to
                              spend so much time away from home
                              when dad is so sick.

                              I know you don't honey, but he's a
                              Strong man with an extremely
                              strong will to live. That makes a
                              huge difference in situations like
                              this. He will fight tooth and nail
                              to see you receive your badge.
                              Becoming a cop is not only your
                              dream, but our dream as well. It
                              is a noble profession, and we
                              couldn't be prouder of you. Your
                              dad will just be thrilled to
                              learn that you've been accepted.

               Mark moves in the bed and slowly removes the oxygen mask.

                              David was accepted?

                              You're awake. Oh thank God! We've
                              been so worried about you,
                              sweetheart. Yes, David was

                              That's my boy! Congratulations,

                              Thanks dad, but we can talk about
                              that later. Right now, you need
                              rest. You scared the crap out of

               David reaches over and gives Mark's shoulder a gentle
               squeeze. Mark smiles and reaches up to pat David's hand. He
               flinches slightly, indicating pain. He lifts his blanket and
               looks under it.

                              I've had surgery.

                              Double bypass. Your surgeon told
                              me that your artery was so
                              clogged with cholesterol it
                              looked like a corroded iron pipe!
                              Cheese and butter are off the menu
                              for you, now.

                              That's a small price to pay for
                              ...staying alive.

               He glances up at the bag of IV solution and grins.


               It looks like everything is off the menu for awhile. I don't
               suppose there's any way of squeezing a milk shake into that
               IV bag?

               Estelle and David laugh, Mark chuckles weakly.

                              All your friends down at the train
                              station came in to give blood,
                              just in case you needed it. The
                              ones that weren't the right type
                              gave it anyway, in your name.
                              Most of Mr. Maxwell's detachment
                              came in to give blood too. The
                              Police chief really appreciates
                              what you've done over the years
                              to help the police. You've
                              transported troops and police and
                              emergency personnel to trouble
                              spots all over Canada!

                              The head nurse in charge of the
                              blood bank said that you brought
                              in more units than last summer's
                              blood drive! Even at your
                              sickest, you have the power to
                              inspire and assist others.

               Estelle turns away and rummages for a tissue in her purse.
               Her shoulders shake, fighting off tears. David puts his arm
               around her.

                              We're going to let you rest now,
                              dad. There are a lot of people
                              out in the waiting room that are
                              anxious for news about you. We'll
                              be back later.

               Estelle kisses Mark's forehead. David squeezes his shoulder.
               He escorts his mother to the door.

The End

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