Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Talking In Tongues

To my son Tommy,

One of the funnier things that happened yesterday, and yes even in the direst of times the Downey genetic code seems to seek humor, was your Grandpa Leo speaking. He was all loopie from anesthesia. He was answering a doctor's questions, the exact same dozen questions that they keep asking every five minutes or so. What's your name? When were you born? Do you know where you are? etc. Then the commands. Smile real big. Push up here. Shrug big. Look left. Look right. etc.

Except for the droop in the left side of his face, he was doing alright. He was mumbling a bit but all things considered. The doctor or nurse or whichever health care professional would usually finish with some encouraging statement like "You look to be doing alright," to which your Grandpa would respond "You should see it from this side."

Well on the third or fourth set of questions, he started mumbling something that seemed incoherent. Oh no, here we go. The doctor and nurse were looking around the room at your mom and me, hoping for some recognition. I couldn't understand the mumbling at first. Then I caught the last word, "feo". Did he just call me, or someone else, ugly in Spanish? Worth a try. I answered him in Spanish and told him to speak English. Your Grandpa Leo retorted, "Besame el culo." Oh good. That is Spanish. At least if they crossed some wires in there, they just switched the language circuit rather than scrambling the language circuit. I won't repeat the couple other things he said in Spanish, because decorum prohibits it, but at least one of us in the recovery room understood him. That made the doc and nurse feel better. Not sure they would have been as happy if I translated directly.

Consequently, he asked every new health care professional their nationality. Evidently he wanted to either have a conversation in Spanish or make sure he could cuss them out and complain in a language they didn't understand. That probably offended a couple of them, because an old white guy was asking them where they are from so he seemed to be prejudging, and they would judge right back assuming he wanted to deal with some white guy like him. That was far from the truth. When the one doctor said she was Hebrew, your grandfather started talking Russian. Don't know how that erroneous brain connection was made, but it made me laugh. Oh well, your mom warned everyone about his odd sense of humor. I thought the best was when a doctor came in and dad asked where he was from. "New York City," replied the doctor before adding, "but my family is from India." The doctor took the question in stride, even though you could tell he had been asked something like this many times before in life and was just about tired of it. Later I explained to him the Spanish connection and the doctor seemed pleasantly surprised by your granddad's motivation for asking the question, and then preceded to talk some Spanish to him. It made your granddad smile. And anything that made him smile at that point made me smile!

Sinceramente , con el amor de su papá,

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