I wasn’t sure what the situation would be today. Last night about 11:30 p.m. I got a call from the head nurse on duty. She had been moaning and whimpering. They discovered that her blood/oxygen level was 84–very very dangerous. They hooked her up to an oxygen concentrator and she responded well, so they felt she was going to be okay.
“She’s getting more and more frail,” said the nurse.
She was awake but not terribly alert when I wheeled her down the hall to her room, dogs happily riding in her lap. “That’s fun,” she said, when I went around a corner. So I did a couple of mild “wheelies” for her and she giggled.
She didn’t seem to be able to make conversation, so I told her again about my trip to CA, about Jameson the cat’s apparent allergies, and minutae of the last week. Then I sang to her for about ten minutes, but she remained quiet.
After a while she said, “I’m always getting picked on.”
“Who’s picking on you, Mother?”
“You are. It hurts.”
“Wait a minute. Do you know who I am?”
“No, I’m Tina, your daughter. What did Phyllis do to you?”
She couldn’t remember.
“Are you afraid of Phyllis?”
“Does anyone else pick on you?”
“Bob.” Bob was the youngest of her three step-siblings/first cousins, about four years older than she. I knew she never liked him but didn’t knew why.
“What did Bob do to you?”
“He tickled me. He pinched me.”
“Where did he hurt you?”
“All over my whole body.” All of a sudden I thought I understood.
“Did Bob take your clothes off?”
“Yes, he said he wanted to put my pajamas on me. I screamed and screamed.”
“Did you tell your mother?”
“Oh, she was so busy she didn’t have time to deal with anything more.” Tears welled up in her blind eyes and her nose got red.
What a secret to have kept her entire life. Her step brother abused her and she didn’t have a protector. Who knows what her step sister, nine years older, had to do with it.
I stood behind her and rubbed her shoulders. “Phyllis and Bob will never hurt you again. I promise.” I sang the chorus of “Bicycle Built for Two” several times, and at last she sang along
Relaxed, she focused on William. “He keeps licking my hand and it’s all wet,” she said.
William is good like that.