Monday, October 26, 2009
Frank was the oldest employee in our office, still working at 74 years of age; he lived in Chicago alone, and had just survived a heart attack and the repairing open heart surgery.
Two other co-workers, Ben and Joe, and I wound our way via El train to the hospital on Damen Avenue to pay Frank a first visit on behalf of the office.
We stopped at the reception desk in the lobby, where Ben informed the receptionist that “We are here to visit patient Frank Rickard.”
She handed him a visitor's pass with Frank’s room number on it and off we went.
Upon entering his room, we all stopped in shocked horror!
Our once old, but-still-healthy-looking co-worker appeared to be knocking on death’s door. He was sleeping, gaunt, pale and hooked up to all sorts of machines, including a ventilator.
I could not make myself go any further than the foot of his bed....so I started calling his name…..while nervously rubbing his exposed feet.
Trying to wake him up without startling him…
I again spoke “Frank, Frank…we are here to see you.”
All the while rubbing, rubbing, rubbing.
That is when Frank awoke and started gasping as he tried to speak.
I instinctively ran to the head of his bed saying “Frank, what do you need? What is it Frank?”
He appeared to be pointing at the nightstand, where his glasses were lying.
“Do you want your glasses?” I anxiously asked.
He continued to try to talk, as I placed his glasses on his face……
and it was then that I noticed the name posted above his bed...
his name was Frank....that was true.
But not Frank RICKARD…
it was Frank RICKERT, who, when I glanced down at him again, appeared to be about 97 years-old and did not look anything like “our” Frank!!
Needless to say, Ben, Joe and I hightailed it out of that room…hoping and praying that we did not send “Frank” a litte too early to his Maker to meet.
i now chose to not nervously rub hospitalized strangers feet