Elsie Bloom was born in 1939 at the tail end of the depression in Birmingham, Alabama. She moved north of that infamous Mason/Dixon line in her twenties with her husband, Franklin so he could start a new job at the local Jeep plant. She was a career homemaker. She kept a beautiful home in the historic Polish Village neighborhood of North Toledo, a home with an immaculate emerald green lawn and a flower bed filled with tulips in the spring and petunia's in the summer. Elsie and Franklin were parents to five children, the youngest just five years older than myself. Her six grandchildren (ALL under the age of ten) were her pride and joy.
I grew up just three blocks away from her home. In fact, I walked past it countless times on the way to my best friend's home up the street. I don't have any memories of her from that time, and when I once questioned her about that she told me that Franklin had taken ill and she was his caretaker for almost eight years before he passed on.
I first met Elsie in the back of my ambulance.
I was a very green, freshly minted EMT at The Little Private Service That Could and I remember that transfer run like it was three days ago instead of three years ago. We were taking her from her home to a dialysis clinic across town. I remember that she she barely weighed 120 pounds soaking wet, yet she was worried about Pseudo Dad and I having to carry her on the stretcher down the three steps in front of her house. That was one thing that never changed over the several dozen times that I took care of her. She always worried about us. She took a genuine interest in us. She thanked us after every run.
I instantly fell in love with her. I found myself looking forward to picking her up. I know how odd that sounds, what EMT... what saver of lives, comforter of the infirmed, counselor of the downtrodden... actually LOOKS forward to a dialysis transfer?
Yeah, that's me. What can I say? She had fascinating stories, she was grateful, she cursed like a sailor, told crude jokes, never complained, and made me laugh.
Oh GOD how she made me laugh. She quizzed me on my love life, she tried to play matchmaker between me and a dialysis tech (who to this DAY I STILL have a crush on), and she teased me for being an Irish lass with an Irish mouth. (We had that in common.)
It still boggles my mind how someone who just went through 4 ½ hours of dialysis could still be in such great spirits... She always was. Always with a smile on her face. She'd beam as she spoke about her grandbabies, she'd smile when she talked about her children, and she positively glowed when she spoke about her late husband. I loved to hear her stories about growing up in the South. I even loved being teased by her, and anyone who knows me knows how I get when being teased.
She was my favorite patient, without a doubt.
Other than Pseudo Dad and a few select others, I missed her the most when I left the Little Private Service last year.
It was a random day in June last year, I wish I remember the day, when I happened across her obituary. Sitting in a doctor's office of all places. I wasn't even working an EMS job at this point, I was there for an Ortho appointment for myself.
“Elsie Bloom, 68, went to live with our Savior...”
No... Not Elsie...
I crumpled instantly. It felt like I had lost a family member. I remember going home and crying to my husband about it... He didn't get it, and I was wrong for expecting him to. It's difficult if not impossible for those outside of our tight knit circle to understand the relationships we form within EMS. Yes, even private EMS.
Even on a transfer truck. Even on a Day Car. Even when we're not busy out there saving lives and living the dream. We make an impact on people.... And sometimes they make an even greater impact on us.
* Thank you to my inspiration... You're just what I needed exactly when I needed it.*