It was 4:15 p.m. when Felicia pulled into the visitor parking lot at Langdon Rehabilitation Center. She pulled into a parking space as close to the front door as she could find. A glance at her watch told her she had to be back on the road within 25 minutes if she wanted to be home in time for Dr. Phil. Even though the drive here had only taken 15 minutes, traffic was apt to be heavier on the return trip because those who were fortunate enough to have jobs would be on their way home, too.
Today’s Dr. Phil episode was the one with the couples whose marriages were on the edge, and Felicia liked watching other’s air their problems on television. Seeing how miserable these folks were made her feel like her situation wasn’t so bad. It would be terrible to miss that!
Jordan, her soon-to-be-ex-husband, had always berated her when he would come home from work to find her watching Dr. Phil, and not cooking dinner. He seemed to think it was his God-given right as the “bread-winner of the family,” as he liked to refer to himself, to have the evening meal ready for him when he walked through the door. She had always resented his “When I say jump, you ask how high on the way up” attitude. That sure was something she wasn’t missing.
As she walked to the entrance of Langdon, Felicia hoped her mother would be ready to go; she’d told her so the night before when Adelaide had called. The automatic door opened, and Felicia entered the facility lobby. When she had confirmed that none of the old biddies sitting in the room reading or chatting were her mother, Felicia quickly approached the reception desk.
“I’m here to pick up Adelaide Cunningham,” she informed the smartly dressed lady at the desk. “She’s being discharged today, and I’m her daughter here to take her home, and I don’t have a lot of time to waste.”
“Just a moment,” the woman smiled, in spite of Felicia’s rude demeanor. She pushed a button on the switch board in front of her, and spoke into the little microphone attached to the single-eared headset she was wearing. “Adelaide’s daughter is here to pick her up,” she said to the person on the other end of the line. The expression on her face changed. “Oh, really? Certainly. I’ll tell her.”
Before the woman in the headset could speak, Felicia erupted. “Don’t tell me she’s not ready! She only had one bag with a few things in it. I told her explicitly last night that she was to be ready and waiting.”
“I’m sorry, but your mother checked out of Langdon at 11:30 this morning.”
“What do you mean, ‘she checked out this morning’? How could she? Her car is at home sitting in the driveway and she’s NOT. So don’t tell me she checked out; there’s no way she could have. She had no transportation, and no place to go other than home, and she’s not, I repeat, not at home.”
During Felicia’s rant, the receptionist retrieved a book from the front left corner of the desk and looked at it for a moment.
“What have you done? Have you lost my mother? How do you lose track of a person? There has to be a mistake. You must have her confused with someone else. Adelaide Cunningham, that’s her name; now where is she?” demanded Felicia.
“I’m sorry, miss. We have not lost your mother. She signed out of here at 11:30 this morning. Here’s where she signed our daily log.” With that, she turned the book around so it would be right-side up for Felicia and pointed to a name.
Felicia stared at the delicate cursive writing that she recognized as her mother’s signature. There it was: “Adelaide Cunningham. Thanks for the loving care.”
Stunned, Felicia stared at the log book. ‘thanks for the loving care.’ No information about where she was going, who she was going with-- nothing.
“I don’t understand. How could you just let her walk out of here? She may have been kidnapped; she may be delusional—I don’t know, but there has to be an explanation of how and why she left!” barked Felicia. “I’ll call the police and have them out here to find my mother!”
“The patient’s physician always informs us if the patient isn’t competent. Dr. Wilson left no cautionary instructions, so I’m sure he felt she was competent to make her own decisions. She checked out at 11:30 of her own volition with her doctor’s permission. I’m sorry, that’s all I can tell you.”
Felicia looked at the woman behind the desk with a blank stare. In shock, she finally turned away and walked stiffly across the lobby, torn between rage and fear. Where was her mother? What if something bad had happened to her?
“It had better be something bad, if it makes me miss Dr. Phil,” she muttered under her breath as she hurried back to her car. “She’d better have a good excuse for standing me up!"
to be continued....