The patient's hospital bed is in the middle of the large living room. The house feels "good". It's tidy and the decor is from the 1970's. It's an old woman's home and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
I'm no medical examiner, but the deceased looks (and feels) like she's been dead a long time. That's not so unusual. Many caregivers go to bed and find, in the morning, that their loved one has passed on sometime during the night. I take out my cell phone and flip it open.
"You're not going to take her picture, are you?" the daughter nearly shrieks.
"Oh, no. No no no no no! I'm just looking at the time!" I reply. "I don't wear a watch. I use the time on my cell phone for official time of death."
She looks relieved. The daughter tells me that she must run into work to drop off some papers. She gives me permission to call the funeral home and have them remove the body during her absence. The elderly, neighbor lady will keep me company until the removal team arrives.
The old lady is easy to talk to. She tells me that health permitting, she would come to the home and check up on the helpless, bed-bound patient. She feels badly that she couldn't come more often. The woman then reveals that the daughter never stayed here with her mother. The daughter would come over briefly, twice a day, before and after work. She then went to her own home in the suburbs.
I am stunned. "Does she have children? A husband?", I ask, trying to grasp at some explanation for this.
The woman is studying my expression. She's getting an eyeful. I'm thinking about all the time the patient spent alone, in bed. No one to talk to, no hand to hold, no repositioning, no ... pain medication. No anything. Anything! I'm getting dizzy. And very, very crabby.