Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction

No Steamer Trunk or Man Servants Needed


Before my husband, David, was officially admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for treatment for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), his doctor said, “You’ll like the rooms. They’re quite nice.”

Even the nurse doing the pre-admission test agreed. “The doctor’s right. You can decorate any way you want, too.”

That’s all I needed to hear before I started packing everything he and I would need to make it a home away from home. Not that I was silly enough to imagine the Ritz Carleton, but I did wonder whether the style would be more Marriott or more Hampton Inn. Didn’t matter; I was sure I could work with either.

When David realized my intentions, he eliminated the second suitcase and scaled down from an extra large to a medium. By the time he was through, we could have used the small one but for his size 15 slippers.

“I’m going to the hospital,” he said, “not on a fancy cruise. I don’t want to walk in with a steamer trunk and two man servants, saying ‘Nurse! Show me to my stateroom!'”

Davd and Man Servants

I’ve gotta say the medical staff’s idea of a “nice room” is a bit different than what I had envisioned. Everything is white, off white, or gray. Not a pop of color anywhere. Unless you count the red blood cells bag hanging on the rolling pole—which I do count, but not as décor.

I played with the idea of asking my friend (who’d made my matching toaster and mixer covers) to make some stylish covers to hide those unattractive, beeping machines attached to the IV poles. Maybe some throw pillows would be nice. Dumb ideas, I know, but these are the things you think about when you don’t know what to do when someone you love is sick. (Okay, these may be the things I think of, not you.)

Pop & FloSince my husband isn’t allowed to receive flowers, I offered to hang his get well cards up around the room to make it more cheery. He was not interested. Instead he keeps them stacked nearby on a bench near his (white) paper towels. When he wasn’t looking, I was able to rearrange his Pop Tart boxes and Flonase package on his dorm fridge to give the space more color and balance.

Instead of me taking care of David, it’s still the other way around. It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable driving into the city and finding the parking garage. He instructed me on the simplest route, and I’ve stuck with it. I pray daily, “Get thee behind me detours!”Detours

Since I get to park free in the Dana-Farber garage, I have to traverse the maze of additions, bridges, and hallways that connect to Brigham and Women’s.  For the first two weeks, I got lost every day.   Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a natural dumb look, which alerts security I’m in need. “May I help you?” Presto! I’d be pointed in the right direction! (I’m gonna use that look more often.)

Finally, it was David (the guy who’d been wheeled in on his back on a gurney) who searched online for maps of both hospitals, overlaid and spliced them together, and drew red arrows from one place to the other. When even that seemed overwhelming for me, he gave me a simplified cheat sheet to help me on my way in and another one for my way out. It’s been three weeks now, and I still cheat.

My sense of direction isn’t my only deficiency. It’s the little things I have to remember now because he isn’t with me. The first night back from Boston, I locked myself out of the house. Fortunately, David had thought in advance to give my neighbors a key. More than once, I’ve gone to bed with the TV on because it was his job to shut it off. And, if I wanted a working radio and CD player on my trips to visit, I had to learn to drive the Venza, since that was “David’s car.”

[Speaking of the Venza, did you know you can’t put a desiel hose in its gas tank? I tried, I really did. Those gas station pump people are pretty smart, I tell ya.]

When I thought I lost the Venza fob (keyless thingamabob), David called valet parking and asked them to search for it. In the light of day, I found the little bugger. It had blended into the black-carpeted floor of the car—along with the black gloves and black earmuffs I thought I’d lost the week before. He also apologized to them for me.

And, as you may have guessed, I needed David to do the Photoshop job of himself in actor Michael York’s ensemble from Murder on the Orient Express, and the one of our friend, Jeremiah Peters, as one of his man servants.

I’m all set now because I have a list which I review before I leave the house:

  • David’s clean laundry Check!
  • David’s snacks Check!
  • Lunch for me Check!
  • Phones – both my old dumb one and my new smart one (which I don’t know how to use yet) Check!
  • Fob Check!
  • Sunglasses Check!
  • Electronic parking pass (which I wave randomly at anything bolted to the concrete wall until the gate goes up) Check!
  • Cheat sheet Check!
  • House keys Check!

Before I headed out yesterday, I mentally reviewed my list. Satisfied I had everything on it, I opened the door and stepped into the garage. Something didn’t feel right. I looked down.

I was in my stocking feet.

On a more serious note, even though the effects of chemo are extremely unpleasant, David is coping well emotionally and spiritually. He says of his time in the hospital, “I liken it to my stint in the Navy. I’ll follow orders and do my time until I get discharged.”

As for me, I prefer not to compare David’s hospital stay with his time in the Navy. Why? They kept him for four years! Can you imagine the damage I’d do in that time?

Car in parking garage

Thanks for your well wishes and prayers! Shalom. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)


27 thoughts on “No Steamer Trunk or Man Servants Needed

  1. It sounds like you and your husband have the right attitude and that will serve you both well during this difficult time.


  2. Gosh I’m sorry you’re going through this! At least he could have let you bring the two manservants. They’re useful in a hospital.
    It seems this sort of trial goes with publishing a book. I’ve heard it too many times, and I’m still on that road. God is up to the business of refining us, and out it pops in our writing.
    God bless you, sister! Sending up a prayer right now.


  3. Made me laugh several times. Well done! Hope David is still improving.


  4. Love it! I think Jeremiah would look better in his fairy tutu LOL

    From: Clarice James Reply-To: Clarice James Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2016 15:14:10 +0000 To: Cricket Lomicka Subject: [New post] No Steamer Trunk or Man Servants Needed Clarice James posted: “Before my husband, David, was officially admitted to Brigham and Women¹s Hospital in Boston for treatment for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), his doctor said, ³You¹ll like the rooms. They¹re quite nice.² Even the nurse doing the pre-admission test agreed. “


  5. Oh my goodness Clarice !! I’m soooo glad I didn’t try sneak reading this during my meeting this morning , because I laughed right out loud !!

    Gotta tell you, I’ve worked the ‘dumb’ look and it works every time. Proud of ya. 🙂

    I agree that hospitals are liken to catacombs. Thinking of Mass General’s Yawkey Garage;. Parked the car, left the ticket inside of the car which had the Parking info. I left the hospital late that night, I had no idea which level I had parked. Did I mention it was winter; well, 45 minutes later, I found the car.

    There was no one in the garage to use my ‘dumb’ look on !! 😄

    Thankful that we serve the God of Grace and thankful it’s new every morning.
    Thank you Lord for your incarnate love sustains David and Clarice through this journey.


  6. Prayers to you and your husband.    Dee


  7. You ALWAYS make me laugh, and I don’t want to laugh when you both are going through this.
    Hugs and prayers, sweet friend.


  8. Oh my! I identify so much with the challenges you’re facing–trying to remember everything that needs to be done to deal with the situation, and pulling it off.
    I even once successfully put diesel fuel into the Pontiac John normally drove. I had used the larger car to drive a group of wives of a volunteer crew at the JAARS Center to see Spring blossoms in a nearby area. The nozzle actually went into the gas tank, although after it had been running quite a while and I looked at it, I thought that something looked strange. Then I focused on the pump and screamed.
    The gas station recommended I call a man who could siphon it out. He did it by sucking on a tube that ran into a gallon jug, which he dumped after each fill over the bank at the edge of the gas station. After he said the tank was empty, I filled it with gasoline and we went on our way. I think he only charged me about $10.00 Can’t believe that really happened!!!


  9. What a gift you are to each other! I so get the map needed to get thru the hospital. I needed one for the place I volunteered. Could get lost in those catacombs. Thanking the Lord that David is progressing. And that God is keeping you aware. I mean ~ it’s WINTER, girlfriend. No shoes? But it fits. Times like this no shoes is the small stuff. It’s the no brain that gets us in trouble. Thanks for making us smile and bringing us along on your journey. You’re in my prayers.


    • And I thought my husband was supposed to be the one with “chemo brain!” Thanks, Mary Kay, for your prayers and comments. It’s always good to feel like I’m not “talking” to myself. 🙂


  10. Pingback: Basic Training for Heroes | Mary Kay Moody

  11. I am so proud of you for finding humor even in this.


  12. YOU have encouraged ME. I’m sure you are his best medicine.


  13. I just read Doubleheader, it was awesome and hilarious at times. I see your blog is too! I hate to hear of this trial you are going through but I’m glad to know you have Christ to turn to. I don’t know how people get through things like this without Him. Good luck and I will be praying for you both.


  14. Pingback: BASIC TRAINING FOR HEROES ~ You Included! | Mary Kay Moody

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