I kissed her forehead, our tears mixing, and promised no one was going to stop me. She would not spend another night in this nursing home.
I pushed the call button. No response. I followed the cord to the wall and found it disconnected. My heart racing, I tracked down an aide and demanded that a nurse come to my mother's room immediately. At 88, she was examined with nonchalance and covered back up.
I called the manager to her room and told her I was taking Mom home.
The nursing staff gathered in force, attempting to convince me that her release was a long process, that my mother could still benefit from their help. Her stay in the nursing home had been a temporary transition needed after being hospitalized with a stroke.
But I knew my mother had been harmed. I feared the worse. And I feared for her life if she stayed there.
I called her doctor to sign a release form, and I phoned a service for private medical transport. I also called my husband and said, "I need to bring Mom home with us today. Go get Daddy."
At the front door of the nursing home, the management staff lined up to wish us well. They invited us to come back and visit.
"Thank you," I told them, "but we will never drive by this road again."
When we arrived home, the driver unloaded my bundled mother and the rain momentarily stopped. I looked up and saw my father, his hand pressed to the window, tears in his eyes and mouthing the words "Mama ... Mama's home." Married 69 years, my parents experienced every second apart as an eternity.
Once settled in their own bed, Daddy curled up next to Mother, held her hand, prayed with her, assured her she was OK now, home safe. She was still recovering from her stroke, and even though my father sensed some harm had come to her, he didn't ask. He didn't want to stress her more. He never left her side.