Yesterday I went to the ER for a middle ear infection causing vertigo. While sitting in the large waiting room (watching it spin), I was able to observe some of my fellow Tennesseans and their families who were bringing in sick relatives for help. Some people had injuries that were severe and others were dealing with chronic illnesses gone haywire for some reason or another.


I was finally escorted back to a semi-private room and on the other side was an elderly lady who was from one of the large rural areas around here. Elderly around here might mean anyone over 60 so she might have been anywhere from 60-80, who knows? She also could have been 52.

Her family called her “Memaw” and the members were numerous. I was in the front area and watched as one after the next came into the room to greet Memaw and keep vigil over her to make sure that she had everything that she needed. When the doctor came to see her, it seemed that she had pneumonia and had fallen and broken her foot. Her family had found her in her room at home unresponsive and they were quick to take action and got her to the hospital.

Every question the doctor asked was met with thoughtful answers and it seemed that her health had been quite good prior to getting sick. They said she had never had heart problems or a stroke. After the doctor left, Memaw was uncomfortable and sick and a family member quickly called one of the hospital staff to assist Memaw and check out any issues.

As I watched all the flurry and concern about Memaw, I thought how amazing it was that this big family loved her so much. The grandkids who were in their twenties it seemed sat by her bedside. When the whole group left to get food and drinks, they left a granddaughter in charge who sat by Memaw’s bed and cried softly telling Memaw she was “praying for her.” Memaw was either a saint to this family or just a lucky recipient of their care and concern. I hope she will be okay as the family really seemed to love her and wanted her to come home.


I reflected at the lack of big families now and the derision that many people have for tight-knit families in general. Our society is now a culture of drifters who move place to place who seek solace in their hipster lifestyle and sense of social justice. Their sense of outrage is often a substitute for family or religion or both. There is less sense of community and human compassion for individuals now.

I wonder where this lifestyle will lead when these same people get older and need someone to comfort them when they go to the hospital or get sick or need help. Maybe we’ll have robots by then that can look after people but somehow the treatment Memaw got from her kind, lovely family seemed to be a better bet.



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