It was March of 1990 and my mother had been in the hospital already that year more than she’d been in all her eighty-six years. We her children who lived hours away were taking turns to help the near siblings out in caring for Mamma. Our usually jubilant happy “Mamma” was discouraged after weeks of pain following a fall and we all wanted to see her return to doing the things she so loved to do: crocheting afghans, reading, cooking big Saturday breakfasts for all her sons, attending church and, of course, playing Scrabble.
It was my turn. I’d been sitting with Mamma only a day or two that Saturday morning when I realized her excruciating pain had hit a new high. A call to her doctor brought the command for her to go to the hospital. “I need to put her on IV therapy,” he said. Mamma refused. She’d had all her babies at home and had toughed it through many an illness without a hospital and she wasn’t going now. I called my sister Pat in North Carolina who talked Mamma into letting the ambulance come for her. The ride down her long winding driveway was pretty awesome, but I was just praying for Mamma to be helped.
Now it was many days later and still Mamma was hurting so much. She said the pain was more terrific than birthing any of her eleven babies. It was early in the morning after a long restless night. I was leaning over her bed fluffing her pillow one more time when I heard the door open. There was a shuffling of feet but no one appeared around the intervening wall. As I watched, though, I saw first a long pointy green finger creep around the corner, then just the top of a pointed hat followed by a round grinning face. Dr. Hamilton! Mamma’s doctor.
Dr. Hamilton was making his bedside calls that March 17 dressed from head to toe as an Irish something–leprechaun, elf?
He popped one foot up on Mamma’s bed the better to show off his green slipper and shamrock decorated tall sock.
Mamma let out a spluttering giggle, the first that had passed her lips in many a day. She looked at Dr. Hamilton and exclaimed, “You–you–monkey!” Then her pale face flushed at her own indiscretion.
Dr. Hamilton proceeded to play his very Irish tie, pressing something so that “Irish Eyes are Smiling” filled the room. Then he skipped on around her bed, lifted his green hat to reveal dark curls, and said so brightly, “Top o’ the mornin’ to you!” With that he popped himself up onto Mamma’s bed making himself comfortable.
Mamma’s blue eyes were open so wide by that time and I was choked with laughter. Who would have imagined Mamma’s Irish doctor would make such an elaborate act even on St. Paddy’s Day! Did he do this for all his patients? Maybe not. After all, this was Mamma.
Dr. Hamilton greatly admired my mother, according to my local siblings, because she was such a matriarch and reigned so gracefully as such. He had been quoted as saying he and his wife wanted to have as many children “as Mrs. Knight,” and Dr. Hamilton wanted lots of girls because he thought they would take better care of him than boys would. When he told Mamma that she said softly that boys did a very good job also. She would always defend her boys if she thought they were being slighted in the least.
Some years after that I heard Dr. Hamilton had seven boys–and a Rose! We hoped maybe he would be blessed with more girls after Rose came but it wasn’t to be that way. He now has eleven boys–and a Rose!
But back to Mamma’s recovery…From that St. Patrick’s Day it seemed to me Mamma had some spark back and gradually got better and better. After she went home from the hospital Dr. Hamilton made several home visits. Mamma improved so much that she was able to go with Charles and me on a wonderful autumn trip to New England. Charles’ mom went also. My mother was able to walk but only with a walker. Mama Graham needed only a cane. We visited Mama Graham’s dream place, Niagara Falls, and Mamma’s favorite, the Rocky Coast of Maine, and many other fantastic sights we all four enjoyed, a trip full of fabulous memories!
Mamma lived seven more years after that fall of hers. During all those years she never missed a time of inviting Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton and all their children to her house, Stone Gables, for tea and cookies during the Christmas holidays.
“May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” –An Irish Blessing