Indeed everybody waits. Everybody is always advised to wait patiently and to wait with hope- easier said than done.
What a coincidence! I have just returned home after accompanying my octogenarian mother to an Imaging Centre close to the city centre, for some tests. I waited with her for more than three hours simply seated and waiting. My mother has suffered from knee and ankle joint pains for almost two years but of late , the pains have become too excruciating to steal her zest for life.
At the same time, the country is recording the hottest temperatures in years: yesterday it was 32 degrees Celsius around here while some areas in the country side recorded temperatures as high as 38 . Today does not look to be any cooler.
We started off early so as to beat the heavy traffic into the city. We arrived fifteen minutes late for the 12 noon appointment. I was relieved to find only four other patients: two middle-aged men and two elderly females waiting at the reception.
I greeted the receptionist and apologized for our coming in late. “ We ‘re sorry we’re late but we did the best we could,’’ I said gently.
“ Do n’t worry ; the patient you’re supposed to follow has n’t come out yet,’’ she said,smiling.
I heaved a sigh of relief and settled my mother down . I picked the day’s newspaper from the coffee table and browsed through it. To our great relief , another assistant called us inside. I glanced at my watch ; we had only waited for fifteen minutes at the reception. Lady luck must have been smiling at us.
We sat in the waiting room with the assistant who then took some time to make us comfortable and to explain to my mother what was going to be done and what was expected of her. She gave her time to ask any questions and she answered them to the best of her ability; deliberately making my mother feel at ease.
“I’ve had these tests before; I’m willing and ready to go in there,”she said as she pointed to the procedure room.
I could see the relief on the assistant’s face as she asked my mother to remove all jewellery on any other metallic item on her then change into a clean theatre gown and wear a cap over her head.
“ You should be going in shortly,’’ she said looking at her watch. “ Probably in the next twenty minutes.’’
She was called to the reception ; leaving us to ourselves. I distracted my mother from the tests by talking about her grandchildren. Her eyes lit up as I let her do most of the talking. I kept glancing at the clock on the wall. Twenty minutes of waiting turned into thirty then forty then …….
The assistant came back to sit down with us. “ I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait a little longer. The radiologist has had to do some other tests on the patient after completing the first one,’’ she explained.
I picked the newspaper that I was reading earlier on from the reception and two cups of drinking water one for my mother and one for me. I thought to myself: We should have been left to wait at the reception. Here was my mother already changed into the gown and the only thing we had to do was simply sit and wait.
As if reading my mind , my mother smiled and said, “I’ve never enjoyed waiting but in my state, I can’t grow tired of waiting. I need these tests done for I’m hopeful that the results will help the doctor to find something more effective to relieve the joint pains.’’
I nodded in approval for I understood why she had remained so calm and relaxed. Probably time or the chronic pain or a combination of the two had taught her to wait patiently. Someday, I will get there too.
At that precise moment, I remembered the old adage that says that Patience is a virtue. An hour passed without being called inside. I even walked through the open back door to explore the outside under the pretext of stretching my legs. My stomach started growling reminding me of the lunch hour.
I wondered whether if it had been my mother inside and she required some additional tests after the one she was booked for, what would I have done.
I realised that I had no control of the situation so I decided to make it easy for both myself and my mother. I set the newspaper aside, stopped looking at my watch but instead fell into an animated conversation with my mother. I asked her to tell me about her most exciting moments during her career as a midwife. She talked excitedly while I listened with both mind and heart.
By the time the radiologist himself came over to apologise to us about the delay and usher my mother into the procedure room, we had waited for another one hour and fifteen minutes without us noticing it!
The experience in itself had taught me to be a little more patient and understanding. It reminded me of what I had read years back that: over time we all learn that so much of living is about waiting and thinking.
I tried to remember who had said that : “It is very strange that years teach us patience-the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” But I could not.
Amazingly, waiting for my mother as the tests were being performed on her was more or less child play. I was confident and relaxed trusting that things will fall in place at the right time.
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