the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Two Towers

On Thursday, I was sleeping at my friend’s house (that is another story, one in which I will avoid discussing at the moment), when I received the Bat signal.


I programmed Sophia’s ringtone as the 1960’s Batman song, because lately her calls mean someone is in trouble.

“Vartan is back in the hospital,” she said.

I wouldn’t say that I was surprised.  Even though we hired an aide, caring for my father-in-law has been difficult, especially as his decline continues.   My mother-in-law, looking ragged from the stress, still refused to place her beloved husband into a nursing home, despite the advice of doctors.

By Saturday, my mother in law was so exhausted, she was unable to visit her husband in the hospital.  I volunteered to watch over my father-in-law during the day.

It was freezing in the room.  They keep these rooms cool to prevent infection.  I wrapped an extra blanket around my shoulders.  My father-in-law was completely out of it, drugged up many times over.

I sat there, bored with listening to the whoosh of oxygen in tubes.   I went on Twitter, chatting with whoever showed up at the time.

That’s when I received the bat signal.   I answered the phone.   It was Sophia.   An ambulance was whisking her mother to the hospital.   She was having trouble breathing.

Husband and wife, both at the same hospital.   This is not that uncommon; I later learned this from one of the nurses.  For the next two hours on Saturday, I ran back and forth between the emergency room and my father-in-law’s room.

I think my mother-in-law will be OK after a few days in the hospital.   In fact, the first thing she said to Sophia when she arrived was to point at me and say something in Russian.   I assumed that she was touting me as a wonderful caretaker.

“What did she say?” I asked Sophia.

“She says you need to comb your hair.  You look like a homeless person!”

That night, I went to sleep at 7PM.

Today is Monday.  I’m currently in the Cedars Sinai Hospital cafeteria eating lunch.  My father in law is on the fifth floor of the North Tower.   My mother-in-law is on the fifth floor of the South Tower.   My father-in-law does not know his wife is so close.    It is probably better that way.


  1. daysgoby

    Best wishes and strong legs to you, Neil.

  2. sarah

    wishing health and comfort for your in-laws and lots of deep breaths for you. This has to be very trying. Take care of yourself, too.

  3. Pearl

    at least hospital foods are better than they used to be, at least around here. get some snoozes in while at the hospital if you can.

  4. Titanium

    Thinking of you. This is beyond words, really.

  5. magpie

    argh. here’s hoping for the best, whatever that might be.

  6. Danny

    Oy, sorry to hear about Sophia’s mom. I spent five months in that damn cafeteria, I can picture every inch. Will you be there all week? Let me come and visit you. Breathe, breathe, and spend some time in the glitzy Swifty Lazar lobby listening to elderly volunteers play the grand piano.

  7. Juli Ryan

    Holy Hospital, Batman. POW! BAM! ZONK! Hope you will be back at Wayne Manor very soon.

  8. furiousball

    tough stuff, my friend. best wishes and i like what an earlier commenter said wishing health and comfort to your inlaws.

  9. Geoff Meeker

    Keep that sense of humour, Neil, and you can get through anything.

  10. pia

    There’s nothing I can think to say but I’m sure you will get through it–which is oh so not helpful!
    Aging’s hell and helping the aging no matter how loved, sometimes seems a special hell.

  11. followthatdog

    I’m sorry Neil, worrying about one relative is hard enough, but both of them being hospitalized must be so much more difficult.

  12. Michele


  13. Miss Britt

    Damn that’s sad. 🙁

  14. Jack

    I have been in both of those towers more than I care to remember. Wishing the family a speedy recovery.

  15. Horowitz

    So – do they allow conjugal visits? Did you cut your hair?

  16. amanda

    Damn, time.

  17. sweetsalty kate

    Well, dammit. That’s just too much, Neil. I’m so sorry to hear it. I hope it’s just exhaustion, and that she rests up and gets home. Maybe then she may be willing to reconsider getting more help, or a new environment… I know it’s tough, though. Big decisions, and loaded ones. Love to you, and to your family. xo

  18. slouchy

    A deep, deep sigh.

  19. nonlineargirl

    It probably is common. My husband’s grandmother broke her hip and was in the hospital. His grandfather (who was deep into Alzheimer’s dementia) was agitated that his wife was not there. In the hour he was left alone he managed to find the car keys, back the car down the narrow driveway and get part of the way to the hospital. (We think this is where he was going, he was headed in that direction at least.) He did not make it, as he ran his car into a barrier and died. It seemed a measure of his love for his wife that he was able to do so many things he had lost the ability to do, all in order to find her.

  20. Miss Grace

    Your family is in my thoughts.

  21. churlita

    I’m so sorry for you and Sophia’s family. I’m thinking of you guys.

  22. Slow Panic

    you are in the middle of it. take care of yourself.

  23. 180|360

    If you end up in the hospital next, I’m coming over there and dragging you out of California. xo

  24. undercovermama

    I’m so sorry to hear. I hope everything gets better, and if you need anything give me a holler. As it happens I work there and know a few people on the 5th floor

  25. C...

    Oh man… that’s stress … and you still find humor or at least it sounds like you wrote this with some humor considering you mentioned your need to comb your hair as put by your mother-in-law.

  26. Karl

    Very sorry to hear about your MIL, Neil. Sounds like she’ll do fine, though.

  27. Golf Share

    Stay Strong, Will be praying for your MIL Neil

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial