by Tina Portelli

It was a somber awakening for me the day I stepped into this place, the Brooklyn VA Hospital. I was only a visitor for a short time, but I saw a lot.  I saw it in their faces, the men who walk the halls of their last stop. These patients, eyes large and blank, steps small and slow.

They are sick, some mentally broken, most lost. Many lonely. The building is clean enough and the walls pale pink and cheerful enough. But there is no cheer in the men. Most are old, some senile, many just very ill, some are not clean.  As I visited my Dad each day I noticed how few visitors walked the halls.

I imagined these patients thirty, even twenty years ago when they were full of vigor and had reasons to enjoy life. But they no longer looked like they were enjoying anything, not even the bland pre-frozen food or the three channel TV. Their phones sat silent.  The walls were free from get well cards as their nightstands were free from flowers.   I tried to send a smile or a nod whenever I could.

While the medical care is excellent, the staff showed no signs of compassion.  In for the IV change and out.  In to change the bed sheets and out. The doctor arrives once a day, his entourage in tow, a group of medical students hang on his every word. None of his words are directed at his patients. The patients are invisible pincushions waiting to be pinched. Diagnosis are withheld unless extracted by verbal force.  But no one has the strength, so they sit in the dark with their ailments on hold.

I was happy to finally take my Father home and he was happy I was there for him. But tell me - where are all the other children?

Tina says, "I am 54, single and live in Brooklyn, NY.  I work in Manhattan as a full time office manager.  My writing is a newly found passionate hobby. I get my ideas from personal experiences and the adventures of family and friends.  I have never taken a writing class, but three years ago I started practicing meditation.   I attribute my newfound passion of writing to that practice, meditation gave me a clear and open mind.  No better friend than the soul of my pen." Contact Tina.

a Women Writer's' Showcase