Monday, October 16
broken leg 3
The next morning I was woken at 8am by the jarring buzz of the doorbell. I stumbled to the door trying to open my eyes and keep my hair out of my face. It was the man from the apartment below. He told me how had seen the bike in the road last night and then seen me dragging Skye up the road. He told it as if it were a story, not something that had actually happened, he then asked how Carlo was. I reassured him that he was more or less ok and had a couple of fractures in his leg, remembering the worse accident that this mans daughter had been in a few years ago.
The phone started ringing and I excused myself. It was our friend Robby, offering to take me to the hospital. We agreed to meet in half an hour at road level. I dashed around flinging some things into a bag for Carlo, not really sure what to take. Clean underwear, t shirt, a towel? Do they provide soap in hospitals here? Probably not. A few magazines to read, what else?
The phone rang again, it was MIL. She was calling to let me know that she couldn't offer me any help, she had 'things to do'. She explained that she wouldn't be able to take Skye or come up to our house, but if I needed to eat I could go to her house for lunch. Seeing as her house was up over the other side of town, with about 300 steps from the road, I doubted that I would be so desperate to eat that I would take up her kind offer. I wondered why she had called me to tell me not to expect help, as I had never asked her for help before, but reassured her that I wouldn't be relying on her for anything.
The next few days were a blur of work and hospital visits. The day after the accident, the babysitter didn't turn up for work, and I never heard from her again. Skye was shunted between friends and other mothers. She spent a few days at the house of a schoolfriends grandmother, who demanded to know why her grandmother wasn't doing anything. “I suppose she's always at the hospital,” she wondered out loud. “No” I replied, “she hasn't even been yet.”
I would wake up, feed and dress Skye, take her to someones house or to work with me, then straight from work to the hospital. By the time I arrived home it would be 9pm. I ran out of food at home, but there was no time to do the shopping. I had a few manicure/pedicure clients to squeeze in too, but mostly I cancelled them.
One day Carlo's brother stopped me in the street and demanded to know if I had done all the paperwork. There was paperwork to do? He sighed at the stupid foreign girl and told me that I had to go to the first hospital that Carlo was taken to and pick up a form, it had to be filled out and various trips to the carabinieri, the police, and the vigili, traffic wardens and the town hall to complete the important documents had to be made. I stared at him for a second and then said,” but how? I have to go to work, drive to the hospital and back every day, and there's Skye too.... When am I supposed to fit this in?” After some discussion and a phonecall to Carlo it was decided that the brother would sort out the documents himself, as I would probably do it wrong anyway.
The next day, as I dashed from work to the car, hoping Skye would behave herself with the Australian woman that I had left her with, I came across the wife of the brother that was out doing the documents. “You do realise,” she told me,”that today is my husbands birthday and we were going to have lunch on the beach together. Now, he's off doing this thing for Carlo, he's going to be late for lunch. Tsk, I don't even know if he'll arrive in time.” I didn't bother replying, I hurried on towards the car.
After 12 days the Doctors decided that he would need a steel bolt through his ankle. We were informed that he would be the second operation of the morning the next day. I arranged for someone to cover for me at work. At 9am I took Skye down to the beach, to her friends grandmother again. I rushed back up the hill to where the car was parked and started the long drive to the hospital. I arrived at 11am, hoping that I hadn't missed him coming out of the operating theatre. I stuck my head into the waiting room to see if anyone I knew was there. Over the days we had struck up a friendship with the other patients and their wives. I didn't see any of them though and turned to walk into the ward. But someone called my name and I looked back. It was my MIL. How had she got here? It was about time she visited her son.
She walked over to me and said, “ Have you only just arrived? I've been here since 9.30 this morning.” And I lost it. I started telling her about my week, at first quietly, but my voice became louder and everyone around us heard what I had to say:
“Oh really? Well, unfortunatly I couldn't get here so early this morning. Remember your granddaughter? Well this morning I had to take her down to Lucy on the beach, who has kindly agreed to look after her. Not that you are interested, but the poor child has been shunted round half of the town this last week. Pretty much everyone except her family have taken her in. I've been going to work every day and then coming straight here to look after your son, with various visits to the vigili and mechanic as well. I get home at 9 every evening, and the shops are already shut, I don't have family of my own here to help out, which I don't think has ever occured to you, and my babysitter has vanished into thin air. That is why I was unable to be here at 9 this morning.” And I stalked off through the thick silence, into the waiting room where I sat down and pretended to read a book, while trembling with anger and adrenalin.
She stood there for a moment and then paced the corridor for a bit. After about five minutes she walked into the waiting room. She hovered near me for a moment, but I didn't want to talk and kept my head buried in my book. She want back out into the corridor, and then Carlo was wheeled out. He was smiling and as his mother helped the nurses push the bed back onto the ward, he beckoned me. I got up and followed, deciding to act as if nothing had happened between me and his mother. Strangely enough it worked. Three weeks later she mentioned to Carlo on the phone that I seemed to be acting a bit cold with her, did he have any idea why? He asked me if anything had happened between us and I told him what I had said to her in the hospital. It obviously hadn't sunk in.
Carlo finally came home with instructions to not put any weight on his foot and return in a month to see if the cast could come off. After a week of living on the sofa he was bored. It was time to start moving around a bit. The first day we went out it took about 40 minutes to get him down the 160 steps to road level. He was exhausted and sat down in the gateway, to get his breath back. But it started raining. We waited half an hour, watching the cars go by, then slowly, step by step, we climbed back home.
His main concern was getting to the police station to make a statement. Apparantly this could not be done over the phone and a police officer could not go to him. It would just have to wait until he was able to go to them, and of course, like anywhere in Positano there are lots of steps to the police station.
The police tracked down the car from the numberplate that I had been given. The driver was an American man on holiday in Italy. His excuse for not stopping? He presumed it was a scam, you know, where someone runs into a car and then sues for supposed whiplash. Could that man have been so suspicious of all things foreign that he could quite happily leave someone lying in the middle of the road with a motorbike on top of them, presuming it was faked? We have a lawyer looking into it, but I imagine that it will be a long drawn out process.
at 10:07 AM