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- MALCOLM AKERS IS in his midforties, tall and stately as a tree, with dark curly hair. Like most cardiologists, he looks like he’s in great physical shape.
“Hello,” he says to me, extending his hand. “I’m Malcolm Akers.” It’s clear he overheard some of the conversation as he was walking toward the room. “It seems I may have walked in on a little . . . kerfuffle.”
I smile. I love that word. If only that was all my mother was: a chronic kerfuffler.
“Malcolm, this nurse,” my mother says, pointing to Remi, “is refusing to unhook me. I need to be released this afternoon. I have my own patients to attend to, you know.”
But Dr. Akers isn’t listening. He’s wheeled a PC into the room and is looking at her records. And then he frowns. “Not a good idea,” he says, quietly. “Elizabeth,
I’m going to level with you. There were some irregularities on the EKG we did this morning.”
My mother looks up. Surprised, annoyed, and — wait a minute. Do I detect a hint of fear? From the great Dr. Elizabeth Ormson? No. Can’t be. I must have imagined it.
“Irregularities? Such as?”
He swings the PC around so she can read the screen.
“It appears you may have had a myocardial infarction at some point.”
“Can’t say for sure.”
“I order these EKGs for my patients all the time, you know,” she says. “And I know the statistics for false positives.”
I have to smile. Who else but my mother would try to argue her way out of a heart attack?
“I’m sure you do. But you did present here last night with angina.”
“Yes, but . . .”
“Listen, Elizabeth, you know as well as I do that — ”
“Don’t tell me what I know and what I don’t!” my mother says. Wow. This is like watching a tennis match pitting Nadal against Federer. I take a step back to get a better view.
“Fine,” he says. Defeated? Hardly. He bounces back like a Joe Palooka boxing doll. “We can’t keep you here against your will. I know that. But the numbers show . . .”
And with that, they go into a quick medical shorthand discussion. I hear words like arrhythmia . . . hypertrophy . . . ventricular tachycardia.
“So I recommend that you allow us to do a few more tests before we release you.”
She says nothing.
“Strongly recommend,” he adds for emphasis.
I have to confess: there’s something refreshing about seeing The Great Elizabeth Ormson taken down a few pegs. But then the tone of the room begins to change. As he goes on and on about Baseline Numbers, Just To Be Sure, Rule Things Out, he seems to be getting through to her. Slowly, she sinks back into her pillow, her spirits as crushed as the highlights on her blond hair. She looks the way she did when I first walked into the room.
And it breaks my heart.
“Tell ya what,” I say after the doctor and nurse leave the room. “Stay here a bit, do what they tell you, and as soon as you get the all-clear and you’re released we’ll do something fun.”
“Like what?” she asks.
“Maybe . . . oh, I don’t know. Maybe go somewhere? Just the two of us. Would you like that? To take a trip with your one and only daughter?”
Too late. The words were out. And I see a sparkle in her eyes.
Oh. My. God.
What was I thinking?
Things I Wish I Told My Mother
The Most Emotional Mother-Daughter Novel in Years
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“Every mother and daughter should have conversations that change their lives. This book will win your heart!” –Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Hotel Nantucket
A mother and daughter on vacation in Paris unpack a lifetime of secrets and hopes—with a giant Pattersonian twist at the end!
Every daughter has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.
Laurie is an artist, a collector of experiences. She travels the world with a worn beige duffel bag.
Every mother has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.
“Dr. Liz,” Laurie’s mother, is an elegant perfectionist who travels the world with a matched set of suitcases.
When Laurie surprises her mother with a dream vacation, it brings an unexpected sparkle to her eyes. So begins Things I Wish I Told My Mother. You will wish this novel never ends.