The Time Aunt Batsy Died, But Then Really Didn’t

Aunt Batsy is the matriarch of our family. She has been this for about twenty years now. And she seems to really enjoy this position. She likes to remind us all of her title. Perhaps that is why she feels it appropriate to wear a tiara to a funeral. We’re not sure and too afraid to ask, for what the answer might be.

Aunt Batsy doesn’t drive. She never did. But then in her sixties decided, what the hell, I’ll get my drivers license. It makes perfect sense if you are familiar with her work. So she got her license, but insisted upon only making right turns. So everywhere she went she had to figure out how to get there making only right turns. This was well before GPS or any of that technology, which I’m not even sure has the option of getting from one destination to the next making only right turns. She stopped driving about ten years ago. The community, as a whole, is a safer place.

Now that she is up in age, she qualifies for free Pace bus services. She has no intention of ever using this option, but loves telling us she plans on it. I am getting an epidural in my back at six a.m. on Friday morning and she calls and tells me that I can just ride there with her on the bus. Because that is clearly the most logical solution, when every other single person in my life drives an actual automobile. But that’s just Batsy.

The point of this story is that she really has no need to drive or take the bus anywhere. She has plenty of family and friends to take her where ever it is she needs to go. She has a very active social life, so if you stop by her house or call and get no answer, it’s not a big deal. She’s just out and about, doing God knows what, with God knows who. This Camelot ended in February of 2013.

It was a Saturday night and I was driving on I94 into the city to work a party.  My phone rings.  It’s my cousin, Tomber, asking when was the last time I have seen Aunt Batsy.  Um, Wednesday morning.  I was there for coffee. At the time I was working part-time and would go every Monday and Wednesday morning. It was business as usual. Bacon and eggs, her friends there for coffee. Everything was fine. But turns out, I was the last person to see her. Uh, oh. My mind starts racing.  This is it.  She’s dead.  I always wondered how this would go down.  And now I know. 

Two friends are with me in the car, Cary and Nan.  I’m driving. They are manning the phone for me.  Call after call.  Confusion, chaos. They found her in the bath tub. Tomber, Juan, Larry, and Dat were all there. Tomber climbed in through the kitchen window, which, of course, was always kept open.  He yells, Aunt Batsy! And to his surprise, she yells back, oh Larry I’m in the tub, I knew you’d be by. Right church, wrong pew. She was indeed in the tub. Had been there for a few days. Completely clothed. She never took baths for fear of falling. She was covered in water up to her neck. Her feet were badly burned. We still don’t know how she didn’t drown. 

Tomber, Aunt Batsy and I celebrating the one year anniversary of finding her dead, yet so alive.
Tomber, Aunt Batsy and I celebrating the one year anniversary of finding her dead, yet so alive.

Luckily, a neighbor is a nurse and rushed over and 911 was called. They took her to the hospital immediately. Juan called me when I got to the party. I braced myself.  He said, yes we found her, she was in the tub. Oh no! In the tub? Now what? Where is everyone meeting? I’ll be off in a few hours. His response, the hospital. What do you mean the hospital? Don’t they just bring bodies to the morgue or something? His response, no, you damn fool, she’s alive. Ah, sorry. I just assumed when you said you found a seventy-eight year old woman in the tub after several days, she was dead! My bad.

So I get off around midnight and head to the hospital to be with Tomber and Boo who are still there. I’m wide awake, just getting off work. So we all sit around a while and decide I will stay with her until she gets a room. And then I’ll go home too. We had some pretty serious discussions. We were basically trying to figure out if she had already made plans for her funeral. What were her fave songs? Who would do the readings? Who would be the pallbearers? That sort of thing. She was in bad shape and hallucinating. Seeing relatives that were dead before any of us were born.

The next day, we all head back up to the hospital and it’s decided there is an infection somewhere and they had to start an IV of antibiotics in the middle of the night. Exactly twenty-four hours after the antibiotic was administered, she was back to her old Aunt Batsy self. It was amazing. But they were still trying to figure out what happened to her. She would never get into a bath tub. Her story was gypsies came to her house to rob her and made her get in the tub. The doctors were looking for something a little more scientific.

She was in the hospital for over a week and they chalked it up to her being low on B12, or basically they had no clue. They checked this woman from head to toe and found nothing. In the meantime, we wanted to get her house fixed up a bit so when she came home, it would look nice. So Boo, Shelly, and I would bring her carpet samples to the hospital. Big mistake. Changed her mind a million times.  It was then that we knew she was indeed totally fine.

She did have burns on her feet from the hot water in the tub and needed to go to a rehab place for a few weeks. But after that she was golden. She can still to this day retell the story of the gypsies being in her house, looking for her money the same exact way she told it the night in the ER. Some of us think there may have actually been gypsies there.

So we decided a lot of things had to change. Someone needed a key to her house. And we also got her a life alert system, which she sets off on almost a weekly basis. For no reason. The first time it happened, it was at one in the morning. I got the call. I called Dat and we were there in fourteen minutes. We open her door, again thinking the worst. She comes out of the bedroom and says, now what are you two doing here? You just missed the fire department. They were so nice. Uh, yeah, that’s sort of the reason we are here in the middle of the night. How about a nice cup of tea? Um, no thanks. Think we’ll just go home and back to bed.

I have since learned that she takes the life alert bracelet off when showering, Pretty much the number one reason she has it. But it’s like beating a dead horse. She’s made it to eighty healthier than ever, doing what she’s doing. Who are we to tell her what to do? And we’re all convinced she will outlive us all.

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