Monday, April 25, 2005


The convalescent hospital is a strange place: crowded and quiet, except for the occasional yelp or whimper, vacant faces sitting in wheelchairs in the halls and in their rooms. Nothing to do but survive from one moment to the next probably thinking of the next meal or enema. I spent a few hours at one such hospital this week. My wonderful 94 year old grandmother, Santina Lotti, is there now waiting out the days before the inevitable. She believes in Christ, and heaven, and hell so maybe it's not so bad for her. She's been faithful to Jesus all her life, so I think that gets her a spot in paradise.

She was born Santina Giovana Archini in San Francisco California on November 1, 1910. Her parents were Angelo Archini and Elizabeta Olari, both from Berceto, Parma, Italy. My grandmother had five brothers and sisters that survived past infancy. I think three died during childbirth. That was common back then in the U.S.

I can't understand how we can put people in these places. It seems awful. The workers are saints and the one I visited was very clean, but if you're old and dieing, do you really want to spend your last days within arm's reach of a bunch of other old and dieing people? Maybe it's not as bad as I think. Maybe it's more of a spiritual experience for the residents than my forty three year old mind can comprehend. Maybe they have the sense that they're all in this thing together, waiting it out, together. They don't seem bothered by one another much.

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