I had the day off from work today, a day owed to me due to my working through the Reagan Memorial Day that state employees received earlier in the month. Even in death, Ronald Reagan managed to cut government services one final time. My office manager announced that those of us who had to come to work on the national day of heavily orchestrated mourning could take a different day off later, to honor whoever we wanted. She herself was taking the following Wednesday, "in honor of Ray Charles."
Rather than devoting my thoughts to the Gipper, I spent the day thinking about the Gimper. That is to say, my mom, who was going under the knife once again today. This time, she was having her kneecap removed, above the artificial knee she got two years ago. Her sensitive, caring children like to call it her "pretend knee".
The procedure was designed to reduce knee pain, though the surgeon admitted he'd never done it in these particular circumstances before. Kneecap removals, we learned, are not usually a part of the knee replacement process. These procedures are generally reserved for gunshot victims or the recipients of Mafia violence. Maybe Mom has been spending too much time at the track, I mused.
God knows the woman loves her TLC makeover shows, so I harbor suspicions that it was a purely cosmetic decision. I became wary when the initial knee replacement was done by two of our neighbors, who took two entire days to get the job done, though they did stay within their thousand-dollar budget. Mom was pretty surprised afterward, let me tell you. Clearly, the old kneecap was totally out of style with the rest of the new knee, and arguably a legitimate fashion emergency.
My sisters and I tried to be as sympathetic as possible as the surgery date neared, never asking directly about the provisions of Mom's will, or if she'd get to keep the kneecap in a little plastic jar afterward. (The wire she had removed in the last surgery is still a legendary item, though my suggestions to turn it into a Christmas tree ornament have received a lukewarm reception so far) Megan called Mom the night before to ask if she could have her aquamarine ring if anything went wrong. Kelly broke into the conversation, declaring that she was staying the night at Mom and Dad's to be a source of comfort, and to make sure she knew where the good jewelry was hidden. She also added, "Sucka!"
All black comedy aside, I spent the day very worried about Mom. Would she be OK? Would the procedure work? Would she embarrass the family by speaking in a British accent under the influence of sedatives? My anxiety grew when her surgery was delayed, because someone got "stabbed" and needed "life-saving surgery" or they would "die". Whatever, Kaiser Permanente.
Finally, they took her into the operating room in the late afternoon. There was a strong sense of relief all around, and not just because her complaining ended. When they wheeled her out in the evening, she met Dad with an anxious look, full of questions about those she truly cared about.
"Who's winning the Giants game?" she asked.
"Giants, 1-0," he answered.
She frowned. "No, he's not. He pitched this weekend against the A's."
And then I knew she was going to be alright. That is, unless she had money on the game, which the Giants' craptastic bullpen blew in the bottom of the eighth. If so, there's no telling what those Mafia animals might do to her this time. I should start searching the house for jewelry right away.