The hospital room freaked me out. Five Italian women stared at me as the nurses transferred me from the Trauma bed to the Ortho floor bed. Once the nurses left, they all started asking questions. And the only thing I could reply with is Anglais. I tried a little French, but I didn’t know enough to really have a conversation. That’s when Anna spoke up.
She was in the bed next to me and she reminded me of my grandma. Her skin was almost transluscent. Her hair was blonde and she explained she could speak a little English, but she actuially read it far better than speaking.
I understood because I’m the same way with French.
A few days into my stay I learned Anna had been in the hospital for over two weeks and in those two weeks she hadn’t been out of bed. She called it psychological torture and the rest of the women in the room agreed.
I’d read four books by then and Anna told me she loved to read. In the house she lived in before moving in with her son and daughter, she’d had a library. Her favorite words were Once Upon a Time. Her only book now was a prayer book. I offered hermy books, but they were in English.
After that I had a goal. To get Anna a book. I thought maybe Harry Potter. I started planning how to go about that since I was in the hospital in bed, too. But I’d get out before her, I figured, so I’d get her something before I left the country.
Only the morning before Ileft, Anna’s friend convinced her family to move her to a different hospital. Somewhere that would help her with rehabilitation instead of leaving her in bed day after day after day.
They way she looked at my books still haunts me. She so desperstely wanted a story to read. And her family thought a prayer book was sufficient.
I can’t imagine being Anna. And I won’t forget her.
Someone compared the hospital I was in to a bad nursing home in thestate. That got me to thnking. I wonder how many people are sitting in nursing homes in my community desperate for fiction? Once I get out of bed, (THREE WEEKS!) I’m going to find out. And I’m going to do what I can to make sure they have access to books. Because for a reder, life without books is true torture.