The phone rang sometime during lunch, immediately after I had taken my first bite of a delicious egg and mustard sandwich. My mouth now full of egg, ham, and bread, I answer with garbled “Hewoo?”
The voice on the other end sounded stern, impatient, and quick like a German headmistress or someone who used words like “fiddle faddle.” She was calling from the hospital. “Is your father available?”
I choked down the bolus of chewed bread and protein, coughing out a semi-audible “No, no he isn’t. May I . . .” before she interrupts.
“Can I leave a number?”
“Sure,” I say grabbing at a floret of pencils which in my haste spill out onto the floor (I may have cursed.). An audible impatience sighs across the line. I grab at an old notebook. “Whenever you’re ready . . .”
Nancy — that I learn is her name — hurriedly fires off ten numbers and informs me that she will be “here” (I assume an office at the hospital) until four.
“Oh,” I stammer, “May I ask what this call is regarding.” Now I think this a prudent question; although I know that Dad is scheduled for some minor surgery this Monday. In fact, he asked me to drive him to and from the hospital. However, I also realize that the time of his appointed surgery may been moved in the past, so knowing that this message concerned Monday’s visit — as oppose to the surgery several weeks ago — would be important.
“I am calling from the hospital,” she answers, stressing the word hospital as if it was sufficient explanation for anyone.
“Oh, ok . . .” I burble, wondering if I had inadvertently attempted to violate some patient/doctor confidentiality and got caught in the process. “Thank . . .”
“. . . you.”