The Dreaded Phone Calls, part 1

Information DeskApril 27, 1991

My parents anxiously rushed towards me “Are you okay? What happened?” they asked.

I told them about the car accident and how Mark was unconscious and was now in surgery getting a shunt to relieve pressure on his brain.

The receptionist pointed us in the direction of the intensive care waiting room and Mick spied a phone in the hallway near the waiting room. “I need to update Dianne and she can let the rest of the family know what’s going on.”

“Please do,” Mom replied, “We’ll be in the waiting room.”

“I want to call the kids, but I’ll do it when Mark’s out of surgery,” I said.

Dianne, called her daughter, Linda, to let her know it would be a late night with our kids. She also called my only sister, Rosanne, and my brothers, Don and Steve, to inform them of the details of the accident and our condition.

While in the waiting room, Mom and Dad noticed how uncomfortable I was with every breath.

“I think you should go back to the emergency room to make sure the doctor didn’t miss another problem. I’ll wait here in case the neurosurgeon comes while you’re gone,” Mom said.

“I don’t want to miss him.”

“If he comes, I’ll make sure he finds you in emergency to update you on Mark’s prognosis.”

I nodded in agreement. Dad grabbed a hospital wheelchair from the hallway and quickly wheeled me back to emergency room.

“My daughter’s breathing is uncomfortable,” he explained to the nurse at the station. “Could you make sure there’s not another problem?”

“Sure,” the nurse replied as she took the wheelchair and wheeled me in for more x-rays, then back to another room where my Dad and I waited to hear the results. Time seemed to be passing at a snail’s pace, but finally a doctor arrived with the results of the x-rays.

“Your lungs are clear and your heart is fine. There are no broken ribs. Your pain is coming from your collarbone, which is broken in two places, and the extensive chest bruising. The nurse will bring you some pain medication for now and here is a prescription to fill later.”

“I can’t take any medication,” I said. I already felt foggy and was afraid it might cloud my thinking. “I need to be alert so I can understand what’s happening.”

The doctor raised his eyebrows and looked at me skeptically. “Well… your choice, but in case you change your mind…” he said as he handed me the written prescription.

“Thanks,” I replied.

Dad wheeled me back to the I.C.U. waiting room.

“Hasn’t the neurosurgeon come yet?” I asked Mom.

“Not yet”

“I should call Mark’s mom,” I said. How do I tell her that Mark is not expected to make it through the night? What words would ease the blow?

Wanda lived in Vancouver, Washington about 785 miles away. Mark adores his mother and never uttered one negative word about her. She’s smart, witty, soft-spoken, and devoted to her three children. Mark was her only child for ten years and he enjoyed the undivided attention. I respected Wanda and appreciated her influence in raising such wonderful man. Now I was afraid she might reject and blame me and I felt she had every right to do so. Feelings of guilt and remorse about the car accident filled my soul.

Dad realized my anguish and offered to make the call, but I wanted to — or at least I felt like I should be the one to tell her. Dad pushed me in the wheelchair from the waiting room into the hallway to a small cubical with a phone sitting on a desk with a chair. I looked at the phone and feared I’d fall apart. I didn’t have the strength to pick up the receiver. Disappointed in myself I asked Dad if he’d make the call for me.

When there was no answer at her home, I remembered Wanda told us she was going to Arkansas to visit her parents and brother. I didn’t have Uncle Glynn’s phone number, but I did have Mark’s sisters phone numbers in my purse.

Being the big brother, Mark felt protective and proud of his sisters Karen and Jerrie. Even though they were only ten and eleven when he moved to Utah with his employment he kept track of them the best he could long distance. It was obvious he cherished both of them. Karen married Mark Ray almost two years prior to the accident and we had just been to Washington in November for Jerrie’s wedding to Jon. I was worried how they might react to this devastating news.

I sat in the wheelchair next to Dad, listened to his conversation with Karen about the accident, and then heard him ask for Glynn’s phone number. Without saying another word, he picked up the receiver again, dialed 0 to talk to the operator to have the long distant call billed to his home phone number.

I nervously listened as I heard Dad introduce himself to Glynn, whom neither of us had ever met, and then ask if Wanda was available to talk to. Next I heard Dad recalling the accident details and grim prognosis the doctor had given. He told her Mark was in surgery getting a shunt to relieve the pressure from his brain and that we would update her after the surgery.

I sighed with relief—Mark’s family now knew and seemed to be handling the news in their usual gracious way.There was one last dreaded phone call to make and I cringed at the thought—our young children still didn’t know.

The last Wilson family picture before the accident.

Mark Ray, Karen, Wanda, Mark, Barbara, Grandparents- LaFaye, Norval                                   Jerrie, Jon, Katie and Christopher – The Wilson Family – November 1990

Next week’s Sunday Story will be part two – how I tell Katie and Christopher.

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2 thoughts on “The Dreaded Phone Calls, part 1

  1. Thanks my sister. I am glad for all these historical accounts. Things I never knew. How clear thinking you were. How fast you grew within all this stress. What a women!

    Lots of love Rosanne

    Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 16:15:30 +0000 To: rosanneday@hotmail.com

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