‘Go West’ Part 9: Heading Home, Departing from Wisdom

My kid, the 19-year-old I refer to as ?Chance,? had been complaining of headaches, earaches, teeth problems.

I told him, via text, from out of state, to schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon. On the appointed day, I texted to ask about the outcome.

His response was this image:

Wisdom Teeth of Chance
Wisdom Teeth of Chance

Clearly, at least one of those suckers was coming out.


He scheduled the surgery for the last day of his summer school class at Colorado College. I told him I?d be there to drive him home. To our hotel room. From which we would depart for Virginia the following morning.

Fool proof plan, right?

I arrived a couple days early and took the Mothership in to the Subaru dealer for an oil change and regular checkup. I asked whether it was normal for the Automatic Transmission oil temperature light to come on when climbing from the Sacramento Valley, which was 105 degrees F and a few feet above sea level, over Donner Pass, some 7000 feet in the Sierras.

?No,? I was surprised to hear.

Oh, and this car is kinda new to me, is it normal for it to lug at 35-45 mph? It seems like its shifting up a tad early.

I don?t know why I couldn?t figure it out myself, it seemed so logical when the service guy told me. The temp sensor was kaput and therefor the shifting was not happening at the right time.

I told him I had an important appointment at 2:30 (I did not say it involved oral surgery.)

At 2:15 I was handed keys to a rental car, paid for by the dealership.

I?m telling you all this because I found myself trying to decide how seriously to take the instructions from a nurse, about one hour later, not to leave the side of my heavily sedated 185-pound 6? 1? teenager for 24 hours.

I had to get my car back.

Oh, and I needed to pick up the pain meds.

I got him from the wheel-chair at the hospital curb all the way to the hotel room before making the decision.

I would not tell the hotel staff, I would not wait until he was cogent.

I would make my move before he was hollering for pain meds.

I called the dealership and told them my time frame. Zero turn-around time. They understood. I signed the papers, jumped in the open door of the Mothership and headed five miles out of town to the nearest open pharmacy that already had our info in its computer: Safeway.

I ran through the rain, through the grocery store, throwing jars of applesauce, yogurt, instant soup into my basket and smiled at the pharmacist. She smiled back and handed me the bag.

On the way back to the hotel the lightning knocked out power to traffic lights and the rain filled streets with pools. But the Mothership is not a Prius, there would be no hydroplaning.

I got back to the hotel room before the patient awakened, less than an hour.

I only wished I could clink my glass of wine against one in his hand. But he?d read the label on the pain meds.

?No way, mom.?

Wisdom still intact.


By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.