Chapter Five: Us, Not You

That morning Sandy got out of bed in her pink cotton pajamas. After she got dressed, she went down the stairs passing all of the framed pictures on her wall. Her most cherished picture was that of her in a Chanel suit outside of the courthouse, with her then-teenage daughter. During her younger years, Sandy had a career as a legal secretary until she retired in 1987. Her employer had been in practice for forty-two years before his dementia became too unmanageable, forcing him to give up his passion. It had made Sandy sad for him. He was a good man, seeing him in his more frail state, caused her to worry she would work so much that she would miss out on life. His story gave her the drive to save her every penny in order to retire early and not in an office until she was carted off to a care facility. It was a memory she reflected on every time she passed her pictures. Did she do right by retiring early, or did it stunt her in some way? She never knew the answer. It was noticeable to Sandy that she did feel a little bit slower in her motions, but with her cancer and stroke behind her, it was not as if every day she would be at her most active. It was all so typical until she went to her mailbox just before lunch to see if her "Better Homes and Garden" magazine had been delivered. She made it all the way to the end of the driveway, with just enough time to think "I feel very dizzy." When she woke up she was in an ambulance by her side was Kitty who was crying.


At the hospital, Kitty did as Sandy had instructed her to do not long after she moved in. This was to call her grandson in case of an emergency. Kitty hadn't even thought of this when she saw Sandy fall on the cold sidewalk from the kitchen window and rushed to help her. Her first reaction was to yell for help, that's when their nosy neighbor, Mr. Fieldbrook came outside in his plaid bathrobe to stay with Sandy as Kitty ran in to call 911. Later, Mr.Fieldbrook pushed Kitty into the ambulance and told her to stay with Sandy, as he'd go lock up the house for them. The grandson's phone number was written on a folded up paper in Sandy's wallet. Kitty dialed the number on the nurse's station phone, it went straight to voicemail. "Hello, Stafford. This is Kitty, I live with your grandmother. She's had an accident. Can you come to the hospital?" Not knowing if she said the right thing or not, Kitty hung up and waited in the hospital lobby. She had been in so much of a hurry she didn't think about how long she would have to wait. Kitty had nothing in her pockets, all she could do was sit there until Sandy felt better.


At nearly 10 pm, Kitty was on what felt like her hundredth trip to the water fountain. Sandy had let Kitty visit her in her room as the doctor explained that Sandy had a collapse due to extremely low blood pressure, something fairly common for her current medical condition. He informed Sandy that she was to stay the night for observation. Kitty had promised to stay until Sandy's grandson arrived, expecting to have been there for no more than a few hours. By now it was well past visiting hours and Kitty was planning to sleep in the waiting room. Sandy had dozed off at dinner. Finishing her sip of the cold metallic water from the water fountain, Kitty turned to go back to curling up on the purposefully uncomfortable chairs the hospital provided when she heard a voice sounding as if it were made of pure obnoxious arrogance and entitlement billowing from the nurse's station. "What do you mean I can't see my own grandmother!" Kitty walked over to see the scene playing out. "Sir, visiting hours ended some time ago. You are going to have to come back tomorrow." A nurse said trying to calm the man. "Well, take a message, You can do something that simple, right?!" The nurse looked like she was about to call security as he spoke to her. "Stafford Gunderson was here to see Sandy Brown. You got that!" He pointed at the nurse like he was trying not to hit her. "Oh Hi Stafford! I've been waiting for you!" Kitty said with a joyful grin as if he were just the person she was hoping for.


Stafford being a young man in his mid-twenties, was not at all what Kitty had pictured when Sandy described him to her. Sandy's vision of Stafford was that of a blonde-haired, tall man, who was dignified. In-person Stafford did have flaxen hair, but he was no taller than the petite Kitty, he also carried an expression of sheer contempt that rested squarely on his brow and rippled to his frown. Kitty was just happy that she could go back to the house, now that she knew Sandy would be well cared for. Stafford though was not as happy to see Kitty. "You're the one who left me the message, right?" Kitty nodded. "So...What's going on, what happened?" Kitty explained that his grandmother was checking the mail when she fainted. Stafford instead of being calmed after being informed that his grandmother was alright, reacted with annoyance and disdain. "She pays you and you're too lazy to get the mail yourself?" Kitty felt guilt where she hadn't after he said that, her body actually shrank away a little. She cared for Sandy who had been nicer to her than anyone else. Stafford hurt Kitty greatly with his accusation. Kitty started to tremble in her words "she's asleep now, we are supposed to take her home tomorrow morning." Stafford standing with his arms crossed facing Kitty replied "'we' as in 'you' like the 'you' who let this happen, 'you' should have to pay the bill for this you know. I should sue you right now." A tear started to well at the corner of Kitty's eye and her face was hot with emotion. "Are you crying? My grandmother nearly died because of you and you have the gall to cry in front of me!" In a huff, he stormed out of the building. Kitty sat down quietly and waited until the morning not knowing her future.


The next day Kitty helped Sandy get her things and check out of the hospital. Sandy asked if Stafford ever came by to which Kitty said he had, but it was too late and the staff wouldn't let him see her. Kitty glossed over that Stafford had yelled at every person and that the nurses talked about having security on standby the next time he showed his face. Kitty hadn't known what to make of Stafford, he was filled with so much hate. She didn't know if that had been his reaction to finding out about his grandmother or if he was always like that. Kitty trying to make the best of it by convincing herself that he had to be more reasonable than the person she had met the night before. On their way to the cab lane, Stafford pulled up in his new 2000 Ford Mustang GT. He politely let Sandy in and pushed Kitty's neck as he held his front seat forward in his two-door car for her to finagle into the backseat. He drove with the windows down despite it being 20 degrees outside and neither Sandy nor Kitty had a coat on, while he did.


When they pulled up to Sandy's home Kitty was covered in goosebumps and her hands were so cold all of the blood had drained from them. Sandy told Stafford he was going too fast, in response Stafford said he thought she would have wanted to get home sooner. The front door was wide open in what looked like Mr. Fieldbrook had forgotten to close it as he had said he would. Stafford looked at Kitty and blamed her immediately "Wow you can't even close a door, what's wrong with you?" Sandy looked at Stafford. "Be nice" she cautioned. The house was just as it had been left the day before, only colder. The table was set and the food was still on the turned-off stovetop. Stafford noticed this by saying "She can't even clean up and you let her live here?" to Sandy. Kitty wanted to speak up for herself and say that it was more important that someone took care of Sandy than it was for her to stop and do the dishes, but Kitty didn't know where her place was in this situation so she remained silent at Stafford's gabs. Sandy went to her room to lay down. Stafford pulled his flashy car into the detached garage, while the exhausted Kitty cleaned up yesterday's mess. She looked at the calendar on the wall as she went into the kitchen, so much for Valentine's Day, she thought as she noticed that they had missed it the night before.