Yesterday, I got a call from the hospital. She was to be released today and could I pick her up. When I called, I tell her that I can pick her up in the early afternoon - I had a student coming to see me in the late morning, and in any case I was very busy. I tell her sometime around 2:00 or 2:30. I could tell there was a nurse bouncing up and down on the end of the line and she gets on the phone and says "Usually we like our patients out a little earlier," so I just say "well too bad. I have a full time job, and that's when I'm free." (this, you have to remember is partly a reaction to YEARS of having been pushed around big time by the health system re my mother and not being able to push back because she wouldn't let me). So she says "well that will have to DO I suppose" in tones of great umbrage. And I say "Yes, it will" and am absolutely seething.
All that is probably partly why this afternoon I didn't particularly hurry to the hospital. I WAS busy (still marking, grrr) and it took a while to get away, but, to be honest, I didn't make a real effort. Anyway, I got there just after 3:00 pm. Friend is there, looking pitiful, says "I thought you'd forgotten me." So I say, "No, I was just very busy" (after all, I'm only 1/2 an hour late). There's a man about my age there visiting an elderly woman, probably his mother. My friend pops into the loo, and he says to me, rather sternly "She's been waiting on the edge of her bed for an hour and a half!" I don't deign a reply to that, but again am seething. Where, exactly does he get off, judging me? I'm not a relative, a neighbour, even a close friend! I'm taking time out of my extremely busy life to do this, and, okay, I'm a half hour late for the poor old dear. So shoot me.
So I take friend home, settle her in, then go out, get her some shopping, fill a prescription for her, go back, put her groceries away and chat some more. I also make it abundantly clear that I'm NOT going to be available for frequent errand running, even though she obviously expects it. I don't like having to be so hard-nosed, but I can see a deep, deathly pit opening up in front of me, and my blissful, hard won freedom slipping away... I think I've earned all my service to seniors points for one, or several, lifetimes, in the last ten years thank you very much. And I think I'd rather be a martyr in my NEXT life. Maybe. Not this one.