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    CarlHoliday
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Flight of the Dodo - 26. Chapter 26

I opened my eyes, but it was as if I hadn’t done that. There was no light to perceive. I couldn’t tell whether I was alive or dead. Then I heard something familiar, something I had heard before. There was a periodic beep, an unvarying, steady beep.

“Sir, you should go back to your room,” a voice said. “There is nothing you can do to help. Only time will tell whether what the surgeons did was enough.”

“You don’t understand, Ed is so alone in the world, I’m all he’s got,” Uncle Ted said. “Look! Did you see him move his hand?”

I was alive, but I couldn’t see. Well, I could barely see out of my left eye, but now I couldn’t see out of either eye. What had happened to me. Where was I? The beeping said I was in a hospital, but where? Was I still in North Park? No, we left there yesterday, but where was I? So sleepy, so sleepy.

How long had it been since I was last awake? The familiar beep was still there, so I must still be alive. But I still can’t see any light. Were my eyes covered? Why would that be? What happened to me?

“How’s our favorite patient this morning?” a man’s voice asked. “Don’t try to talk, we’re still helping you breathe. Dave, you’re on.”

“Edvard, I’m going to take the bandages off your eyes,” another man’s voice said. “From your glasses that were recovered at the scene of the accident, I’m assuming you can barely see out of your left eye, but I’m concerned about your right eye today.”

My right eye? Oh, no, not my right eye, too. Light, it was getting lighter.

“I want you to close your eyes.”

There was still light, but not as much. There was more light.

“Okay, open your eyes.”

Was that Uncle Ted in a wheelchair? Why was he in a wheelchair?

“How is your vision?”

How to say okay without speaking? Oh, yes, make a fist and raise the thumb. Yes, that was it.

“I take it you’re okay.”

I tried to smile, but with the tape it was hard to do.

“Bob, I think you can deliver the rest.”

“Edvard, you were in a horrific accident west of Kemmerer. Your seatbelt prevented you from directly impacting the windshield. Unfortunately, the force of the impact forced the cab of your vehicle to crumple severely breaking both of your legs. We were able to save your right leg completely, though it is presently held together with plates and screws that maybe removed in time. As far as your left leg, we were able to save the thigh and knee joint, which will ensure a smooth transition to a prosthesis. You had a skull fracture, but we won’t know the neurological damage until we can examine you after we take you off the ventilator. Oh, and your left forearm was broken. If you behave yourself, you can expect to be taken off the ventilator in a couple days and then we can move you upstairs.”

My left leg half gone, but my right eye was okay. That was a plus. Kemmerer, I wonder where that was. I didn’t remember a city of that name anywhere in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. Was it on the Wyoming highway map that I had only partially memorized? Where was I? What accident? Why can’t I remember? I watched the doctors leave and Uncle Ted wheeled himself up to the side of my bed.

“I wish we could talk,” Uncle Ted said. “You’re probably wondering where you are. We’re back in Pocatello. It was the nearest city with a good hospital. I’m sorry to say it, but Sam didn’t make it. I won’t go into any details, but it wasn’t good. I barely made it through myself. Stupid me wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and I was thrown out of the pickup. Luckily, I wasn’t hit by any of the vehicles. I was pretty well bruised up, busted my tibia, and ended up with a herniated disk hence the wheelchair. I’ll be okay, but it’s you I’m worried about the most. I made sure they got your meds out of the pickup before they transported us to Pocatello. Anything you need?”

I couldn’t talk, so I made a movement with my right hand that I think resembled writing.

“You want to be able to write?”

I nodded as best I could with the tube down my throat.

“Hey, that’s a good idea. I’ll go check with the nurses.”

I knew that man was my Uncle Ted, but in reality I didn’t know who he was or why I knew that he was Uncle Ted. If he was an uncle, was he E3’s brother or Syl’s brother? And, for that matter, who was E3 and Syl? It was as if my whole life had been erased from my brain. Why that occurred I didn’t know, nor did I know how that occurred.

So far, I knew there had been a horrific accident. In that accident, my right leg was broken, I lost my left leg below the knee, my left forearm was broken, there was some damage to my right eye although I thought I was seeing clearly, and I had a skull fracture. But I couldn’t remember that accident, nor could I remember anything leading up to that accident. Who was this Sam who didn’t make it and what was it he didn’t make? Probably, the most important issue was who was this Uncle Ted and what was my relationship to him.

The doctors were talking about an Edvard person. Who was he? Was my name Edvard? Why was I named that and not Edward. Edward was more common. It was very disconcerting not knowing everything. As it stood, I could only remember what occurred since I woke up. Why was that? That one doctor said I had a skull fracture. Was that the reason I couldn’t remember yesterday or all the days before that?

“Hey, Ed, I got you a tablet and a pen,” Uncle Ted said as he wheeled himself into the room. “We’re in business, now. Here, I’ll put this up on your thigh. Here, can you hold the pen? Now, what do you want to know?”

I took the pen with my right hand and steadied the tablet with my left fingers. The cast was sort of in the way, but I held the tablet as best I could. I wrote: Who am I? Who are you besides being Uncle Ted? Do you know who E3 and Syl are? Where am I and why am I here?

Uncle Ted took the tablet, looked at it, and said, “Oh, boy, Ed, you don’t know anything. Looks like you’ve got a bad case of amnesia. Before we go further, I want to show this to the nurses. Maybe you need a new kind of doc.”

Amnesia? Where had I heard that before? Wasn’t amnesia like memory loss? If it was, then I think I might have had amnesia before, but where, when, why?

Come on, think!

You’ve had this problem before. You got better. Right?

Come on, think! Put the pieces back together.

Think!

Supposedly, your name was Edvard even though you don’t like that. Why wasn’t I an Edward like other boys and men? Maybe, if no one minds, I’ll become Edward. But what was my last name? Did I have a last name? Of course, I had a last name. First name, middle name, last name, that was how it works here, wherever here was. Didn’t Uncle Ted say we were back in Pocatello? But where was Pocatello compared to where I’m supposed to be? Wait! I memorized the highway map of Idaho. Pocatello is in Idaho! That was easy, but why Edvard?

Come on, think! You can remember if you think.

It can’t be that hard to reformulate memories. You’re Edvard. Edvard who? Edvard Grieg. Who was he and why did I know his name? No, I’m not Edvard Grieg. I’m Edvard. Edvard … Edvard Oscar … Think! … Edvard Oscar Ped … What is it? … Edvard Oscar Pedersen … Yes! … Edvard Oscar Pedersen.

I’m Edvard Oscar Pedersen. I’m eighteen. I’ll be nineteen on December 22, 1969. My Selective Service rating was 4-F because I had bad knees, legally blind in my left eye, and I’m … I’m … What am I?

Schizo-something … What is it? … schizo-something … Can’t remember what comes next.

Where do I live?

Come on, think about where I live. It can’t be that hard. You were in an accident. Uncle Ted and a man named Sam were in that same accident.

Red Ford F-250 Crew Cab … North Park, Washington … North Park General Hospital, Psych Ward … Caldwell, Idaho … Pocatello, Idaho … McCammon, Idaho … What comes next?

Edvard Oscar Pedersen … Uncle Ted … Ted Bancroft … Grampy Bancroft … Sylvia Bancroft … Syl!

A short man with black wavy hair, thick black eyebrows, brown eyes, thick black mustache, round face, small ears, pointed nose, white doctor’s jacket, blue shirt, brown slacks, walked into the room, and came over to my bed.

“Edvard Pedersen, I believe, I’m Dr. Strong, I’m a neurologist. I consulted on your skull fracture from the accident down near Kemmerer, Wyoming. I understand you’re having trouble remembering somethings about you. It isn’t uncommon to have short-term amnesia as the result of a traumatic brain injury such as yours. Here’s your tablet and pen. I’d like to ask you some questions, if it is okay with you.”

I gave him a thumbs up.

“Good. Now, you wrote on the tablet you couldn’t remember your name.”

I shook my head and immediately regretted it with that tube in my throat. Then I wrote, Edvard Oscar Pedersen, on the tablet and showed it to Dr. Strong.

“You’ve been working on remembering?”

I wrote, had ECT treatments before, know about memory loss.

“Hmm, so what was your diagnosis?”

I wrote, schizo-something?

“Let’s see, does schizophrenia ring a bell?”

I gave him a thumbs up.

“There was a business card in your wallet for a psychiatrist named Roberta Kaiser in Seattle. Is she your psychiatrist?

I nodded.

“Okay, for the time being, I’m going to give Dr. Kaiser a call and get an update on your status. Also, I’m going to speak to your Primary and see if we can get you off the ventilator. Plus, I’m going to refer you to Dr. Granger, who is one of our staff psychiatrists and have him speak with you. I believe with some coaching from your uncle you should have a positive prognosis on this amnesia thing. But as with anything involving the brain, we’ll have to see. You take good care of yourself and we’ll speak again. Goodbye, Edvard.”

I waved.

————

After two weeks, Uncle Ted flew to Casper and was met by his head cowboy who drove him to the ranch. Supposedly, he was going to get physical therapy in Douglas, which was the nearest town of any significance.

Four weeks later, I was transferred to the hospital in Casper. I was there for five weeks because the orthopedic surgeon there removed some of the plates and screws in my right leg, but had to leave one set on my femur and another set on the tibia. I was also fitted with a brace to support the muscles on the right leg until they could be strengthened through physical therapy. Also, I was given a prothesis for my left leg. Then I was transferred to the rehab facility in Douglas. I was doing pretty good getting used to my prosthesis, but my right leg, especially the femur and the knee, was still not up to 100%, which made it difficult for me to get around. As far as the physical therapist was concerned, neither the prosthesis holding up my left leg, nor the braces on my right leg were any excuse for me not to learn how to walk correctly and care for myself.

There was an old cowboy in my room who worked on a ranch south of here. Buck was thrown from a horse that shied from a rattlesnake. At the time, Buck had all his attention on a golden eagle soaring over the sheep pasture, probably looking for an early lamb. He wasn’t discovered until later that night because he didn’t come in for supper. He said it was a stupid accident that wouldn’t have occurred if he was thirty years younger. From what he said, he’d be lucky to get his job back. His daughter, Thelma, lived down in Greeley, Colorado, and had said he could come live with her and Peter, her husband. Buck said that wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t for his three grandsons, Junior, Mark, and Bill, and the two granddaughters Nan and Bea. I guess from what he said all five were hellions bent on his personal destruction. According to Buck, grandchildren were best seen in photographs or mentioned in letters, but then he’d talk fondly about Bill getting an A in calculus or Bea excelling at the university in Boulder. The way he talked about those two you would think they were saints and the other three were the pure devils.

Uncle Ted’s girlfriend, Jan, came over to visit a couple days a week after she got off work at the veterinary clinic where she was a small animal vet and we sat in the dayroom to talk. Her twelve-year-old daughter, Jillian, usually watched the television while we visited. I could tell she didn’t like coming to the nursing home. I figured it was probably because there were so many really old people here, many of whom were in various stages of dementia and were always trying to start a conversation with her. She tried to put up a good front of niceness, but I could tell she wasn’t happy being there. There were quite a few older patients who laid in their beds all day and night with the heart monitor softly beeping as the staff patiently waited for the steady tone indicating the old person had moved on to wherever their families expect them to go.

There was a Lutheran church in Douglas and the pastor came to visit me a few times. According to him, I didn’t follow his beliefs, but he was willing to give me what he called pastoral care. Mostly, we just talked about things in general. I didn’t mention that I was crazy because from the way he talked he wouldn’t accept that as a possibility. I guess from what he said if something wasn’t mentioned in the Bible it wasn’t real. I thought about the Chevy pickup he drove not being in the Bible, but I knew he wasn’t talking about things like pickups and cars. One Sunday, Father Lantham, the Catholic priest, came to the nursing home to give Communion to the faithful. Of course, although I went to the service and sang the hymns, I wasn’t able to take Communion because I was not of their faith. Pastor Williams, of the Lutheran church wouldn’t give me Communion either because I was not of his specific version of Lutheranism. Nurse’s Aide Helen said I could go to one of the Baptist services because she said everybody got to celebrate Communion no matter if you were of their faith or not, but for me it wouldn’t be the same because they used grape juice instead of wine. As far as I was concerned, Jesus drank wine, so what was the problem with the Baptists that they refused to follow what was written in the Bible, especially when they were so earnest in following other parts.

One day Father Lantham came to visit patients. While I was walking the halls for exercise I met him and he walked with me to my room. Father Lantham was originally from Alamosa, Colorado, and St. Catherine’s was his first posting as head priest. He was over six feet tall, had brown hair in a crew cut, green eyes, a round face, and big scars on both cheeks about an inch from the corners of his mouth. He said he was shot while giving last rites to a soldier on Guadalcanal. I asked him if he was in the Marines or the Army. He said he was a Navy chaplain assigned to the Marines. I told him about my father being in the Marines and losing his hand on Iwo Jima. Then I asked what would be involved if I wanted to become a Catholic. He asked my religious experience and I said I was baptized Lutheran and had been confirmed. He asked where and I told him about the church in North Park and Port Angeles. He said he would get back with me after speaking with Pastor Olsen and the pastor at the Port Angeles church.

“Hey, Ed, how goes it?” Uncle Ted asked at the door. “Oh, sorry, am I interrupting anything?”

“No, I was just leaving,” Father Lantham said. “Ed, see you Sunday.”

“Yes, Father,” I said.

“What was he doing here?” Uncle Ted asked after Father Lantham left.

“We were just talking. I’m thinking of converting to Catholicism.”

“Aren’t you Lutheran?”

“Yes, but the Lutheran church here in Douglas is not like the one at home, and the pastor here won’t let me join his church because I wasn’t baptized or confirmed in his version of Lutheranism. Plus, he said he wouldn’t be comfortable having me around his flock. Why are you here today?”

“Did you forget what usually happens on Tuesdays?”

“Oh, yes, my appointment with Dr. Swift. It’s a good thing I already have my prothesis and braces on.”

“How you doing, Buck?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Okay, as far as I know. That doc they got here keeps sayin’ I’ll be out of here soon. It’s been soon for the past three weeks, so I don’t believe a word he says. Damned old fogey.”

“Well, you keep working on your rehab and you’ll be back on a horse in no time.”

“No, ain’t going to happen. At least, not at the Bar J. From what I heard they’ve already replaced me with some dude from over Nebraska way.”

“I could use somebody good with horses and children. We got a passel of kids out at the Rocking Bar Y who are in our riding program and are driving my wrangler crazy. How’re you with children?”

“A bit crusty around the edges, but I ain’t never hit one of them. You can ask my daughter about how I’m with her kids.”

“Write down your information, including the stuff about the Bar J and I’ll have a look see. Okay?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Bancroft. Ed, can I borrow your tablet and pen?”

“Oh, yeah, um, Uncle Ted, could you take these over to Buck?”

Uncle Ted took my tablet and pen over to Buck. They started talking quietly and I put my legs up on the bed. I thought about staying in a seated position, but decided I’d feel better lying down. Uncle Ted looked over at me in the strangest way and then went back to talking to Buck. After a while, I noticed Uncle Ted was standing by my bed.

“Where do you want this?” Uncle Ted asked as he held out the tablet and pen.

“Oh, you can put them on my nightstand,” I said.

“You going to get up so we can go to Casper?”

“Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot all about that,” I said as I sat up and moved my legs off the bed. I stood and walked over to my wardrobe where I got my parka.

“You ready to go?” Uncle Ted asked.

“Yes, see you later, Buck,” I said.

“You two take care in the big city,” Buck said.

“Casper isn’t that big,” I said.

“Bigger than I’m used to.”

“You got that right,” Uncle Ted said. “You take care, too, and I’ll get back with you in a couple days.”

Copyright © 2021 CarlHoliday; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Poor Ed. He can't seem to catch a break. No pun intended. I do think he is lucky to be with Uncle Ted. I hope things get better for him. Ed is a really unique character, and I like him a lot! Thanks. 

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11 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

………..All I can say is damn. 🤦🏻‍♂️ 

Thanks for the comment, such as it was.

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8 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Poor Ed. He can't seem to catch a break. No pun intended. I do think he is lucky to be with Uncle Ted. I hope things get better for him. Ed is a really unique character, and I like him a lot! Thanks. 

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, Ed has been fun. I'm thinking of bringing him back at some point in his future.

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