With and Without Fathers
In the second year of Ellen's illness, I found myself following the ambulance transporting her up a road that curved its way around the side of a mountain. At the top was a sprawling brick building where Ellen had been involuntarily committed for the next sixty days. It was late afternoon, and the sun reflected off the windows of the hospital in sparks of light that made me squint. The paved road gave way to gravel that crunched under my tires like breaking glass as we drew near the entrance.
The ambulance and my car pulled to a stop in unison, and I began the process of admitting Ellen. Unlike the first, or second, or third and fourth times she'd needed hospitalization, I was making the trip alone, since it required nearly a full day off work. At the time, my job was more expendable than my husband's.
"Hi, Mrs. Dellasega." A social worker greeted me with a big smile, then turned, still beaming, to Ellen. "Hello, Ellen." I supposed she was trying to be kind, but the continuing grin seemed out of place.
After all the forms were completed and Ellen was admitted, I made the two-hour drive home alone. My husband and I alternated visits after that, trying to make sure she saw one of us every week.
We're lucky—we have each other. Although he and I cope with Ellen's illness in entirely different ways (he works harder to make