STORIES

'The mom sat down next to him and they began to talk. After a few hours, she left but she returned the next day and the day after that.'
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Life & Death in the AIDS Ward
Story & Recording by Ed Wolf

When I worked on the AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital in the mid-1980s, I remember a patient whose mother arrived too late.  She was traveling by bus — she was afraid of planes — but he died before she could get to San Francisco.

We put a sign on his door, “See Nurse Before Entering!” When she arrived, a doctor took her into the room and sat with her and the body; we could hear her cries.

Afterwards, she walked down to the visitor’s lounge. Ricky, homeless and only 18, was on the couch watching television. He was the youngest patient with AIDS I’d ever met.

The mom sat down next to him and they began to talk. After a few hours, she left — but she returned the next day and the day after that. By the end of the week, funds had been raised for two airline tickets. Ricky had assured her that flying was safe and she was taking him home.