My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Grandma Handorf

My wife received a call last week from her brother.  He was in a hospital in Mechanicsville.  With Mom.  That was interesting.  Sarah's brother is from North Carolina.  What up? What's wrong?  Mom's got pneumonia in one lung.  Her white counts are up.  Can you come down?-

This is of a sudden.  Disconcerting.  Unexpected.  Mom has had some issues but is historically tough as nails.

Sure, Sister Sarah will come down…..probably not a big deal though.  We just have to work on that lung!

You know where this goes.

I end up holding Mom's hand, as she clings to life, while her children decide what to do.  I'm not throwing rocks.  It's just a thing that has to happen.  Someone has to do this job and I'm happy to do it.

Really, all I can think of…..sitting there in that moment….is how much kindness Sarah's mom has shown me along the way.  Man, I'm no angel.  Doing Andy ain't easy.  I'm a headstrong crabby bastard.

But she always gave me a pass.  She and her husband Howard.  Maybe not a pass but at least credit.  They tried to see some value in a much younger me.  Looking back, I'm sure they had to swallow hard and smile.  I hope that I'm worthy of that tradition.

So I'm sitting in the hospital with her kids, watching over her in her most dire of times.  Her children want to have a discussion about what the future looks like and I take a pass.  This isn't my territory man.  I can get you in the neighborhood but I can't make those decisions…..

I sit there…holding Sally's hand.  I've never done this before.  Sally isn't going to make it but I sit there and I'm compelled to talk to her.  To thank her for the generosity she's shown me over the years.  It's a strange thing to sit in a hospital room with a person who is, most likely never going to wake up again, and hold their hand and chat with them.  It's strange but man I have to tell you that it's among the most humane….or human things I've ever done.  Baby, you don't hold the hand or a person who is dying just for karma points.  You do it because you're vested.

I'm vested.  Sarah's mother Sally never turned her nose up at me.  I was too much of a frat boy or I was too difficult and/or headstrong where our direction was concerned but she was content to smile and let time pass.  Let time and tide take its' course…along with the confidence in her daughter to bring me to heel and make me a decent man.  Which she did.

At the end of the day Salma Nora Bushala was successful in raising a daughter that made me a better man and I'm thankful for her presence on this earth.  Godspeed Sally.  Godspeed.  May you and Howard enjoy each others company forever.


  1. Appropriate and very moving. Been there…


  2. Leigh Anne Rhoadd

    February 26, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Andy, what a thoughtful and moving tribute to your mother in law.  Your courage to step up to support her and the family reflects strongly on your moral character.  Wishing you strength and peace in the journey ahead.

  3. Jo Bauserman duke

    February 26, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Beautifully said. I hope my son in laws feel that way about me on that day.  She'd be honored I'm sure. You must be a good man. 

  4. A beautiful post, Andy. So sorry for your loss.

  5. What a tribute to your mother-in-law and to your family.

    I am sorry for your family's loss.  

    I have been there.  There are no words…yet you found them.

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