I don’t have many regrets in life, I am happy to say. But a big one happened when I was in the fourth grade. I still feel guilty about it.
My mother was seriously ill and in the hospital. She had pinprick-sized holes throughout her stomach and she was bleeding. She had had major surgery at Ross Loos Medical Center. Dr. Loos, himself, and the brother of writer and wit Anita Loos who penned GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, preformed the intricate stomach procedure. Friends, family and even our Mobile gas station attendant donated blood.
My mother lay in Good Samaritan Hospital, the same in which I was born. The same one in which Robert Kennedy died. She had tubes in her nose and IV’s in her arms. Above her bed the Catholic hospital had placed a very graphic statue of Christ slumped on the cross-- oozing blood from hands and feet. It was not a pleasant place to visit. The nuns, the smells, the hushed tones, the visiting priest—and we were definitely NOT Catholic—were not things I felt comfortable with.
One day during my mother’s time in the hospital, I received an exciting invitation. Kayla A. was a member of my Brownie troop who had moved to The Valley. She was inviting the entire troop to her home—with a swimming pool—for an after school birthday party.
I had a choice: visit my mother or go to the party. This was the first time in my life I had a serious dilemma. And every time I see, read or hear the word “dilemma” I think of the choice I made.
I went to the party at Kayla A’s. and don’t remember a thing about it. I do remember that I let my mother down.