UNITED STATES—Crying, moaning bitching, babbling… they all want to go to that elusive place called home.

“Mom, you get brownie points for the steps you took,” Karen says.

Davy (to his sister): “I’m blown away. Those are the first steps she’s taken in over two months. This is gonna help you to get home. And I think your chances just got better.”

“I’ve got a good feeling about the meeting with the social workers.”

“Who’s gonna to take care of me when I get home,” the mom asks.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

“I’m a victim,” says the mom. “They’re making me do things I don’t want to do.”

“Like what?”

“Getting out of bed.”

“That’s the therapists’ job.”

“I’m a victim.”

Karen completes the sentence:

“…A victim of your own hard-headedness. Now we have an awareness… You couldn’t see me without asking me my weight. Now, I won’t go there. I’m ready wash my hands of you.”

“Can you pull me up in my bed…? The nurses wouldn’t do it.”

“You’re the girl who cried wolf. If it’s not your knee, it’s your head and the pillow.”

“Karen,” says Davy. “I swear I take the side of the nurses. It shouldn’t be that way. We’re not going to go that way, OK?. Let’s chant love love love and try to help out mom. And get the most out of this moment. however deluded.”

“We’ve got to keep those brownie points for mom.”

“What IS a brownie point?”

An unhappy blond, all dressed up for a party, appears in the doorway:

“Can we see you in here?” she gestures to the office at the other side of the hallway.

“When are you coming back,” mom croaks as Karen and Davy stride away with the social worker.

“Take a seat, guys,” the social worker warns.

They all take seats, five people in this room made for one desk, two chairs, and beautifully bound books that were made never to be read. Willow the therapist is left standing, which allows her to keep shifting her weight from right foot to left.

“I will turn this over to Willow to give her report about the positive strides made in Betty’s case in the last week.”

“Betty Bird has made exceptional physical progress.”

Davy and Karen smile. Willow goes on:

“Her muscle tone has improved, she has taken a few steps on her own, the first steps toward independent living that she wishes to return to. But—”

“I knew there was a but in there,” says Davy under his breath.

“… Her attitude has deteriorated, she has been non-compliant. And the line has to be drawn somewhere. There comes a point when we are ignoring the patient’s wishes.”

“Deteriorated? She hasn’t said yes to anything we asked her to do. And we’ve endured abuse to no end,” says the occupational therapist. The social worker glares at him for speaking out of turn. Willow goes on:

“True, we saw her take the steps, and do the exercise she said she couldn’t do and, and then she was doing it, but it didn’t kindle any good feeling. In fact, there is no single activity that she ever willingly agreed to do. We recommend that she be taken off therapy.”

Karen and Davy are shocked. The social worker hastens to speak up:

“That means Medicare is going to stop paying for her stay. Do you have insurance?”

“We might have insurance,” says Karen. “Mom has left things kind of a mess.”

“We’ll need payment for the next month. We accept cash, check, money order or Visa.”

“Um, I guess we’ll be paying by check, it’ll be… She’ll have to sign the check because she never turned over the finances to us.”

“Make it payable to Watsonville Manor,” and the social worker mentions the figure. It’s a bombshell whether in pesos, roubles, kopecks or yen.

“That’s nuts,” Davy says. “Karen, I think I’m getting nauseous. I have to go into the hallway for a moment.”

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady Miller grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon). His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)