“THERE’S NO PLACE
Setting: An older woman sitting in a pleasantly
old-fashioned sitting room, embroidering.
Lights come up.
ADDIE REBECCA: Lord, I love this old house. I do.
But there was more than a time or two in the
hospital that I was sure I’d never see it again. Now,
listen, they took good care of me there—they took damned
good care of me—those nice young doctors coming around at all
hours of the day and night. “And how are we this
evening, Mrs. McMahan?” And I’d say, “Me and this oxygen
contraption are getting by, but you’re in big trouble
because WE(!) can’t breathe!”
And those nurses! Just as sweet as could be—telling me
how I’d be out of there in no time. Why, there was this
one who would come by every day to see if I’d missed
“General Hospital,” you know, on account of being hauled
off for some test or therapy or something. And if I’d
missed it that day, she would sit right there and tell
everything that happened so that I wouldn’t get behind
in the story. Not that SHE had time to be watching—but
one patient or another always gave her the scoop. That
dear woman’s kindness, (sigh) I truly believe did as
much as anything to see me through four weeks, three
days, 17 hours and 21 minutes in the hospital.
I mean, let’s face it! (voice drops) A month and some in
any hospital isn’t exactly a weekend on Cape Cod. No sirree, there no place like home!
(motions around the
And nobody seemed to understand that better than that
wonderful woman who made all the arrangement for met to
get back home—in style. Discharge planner I believe was
her fancy title. (motions to audience) Is that the right
name? Well, then you all know what her day was like.
While I was talking to her, her phone rang eleven
times. I know because she was so polite she kept taking
messages on this sheet of white paper, and I counted
them. Eleven! My phone doesn’t ring that much in a
week—but I guess that sounds like heaven to you folks.
(motions to audience again and coughs slightly.)
Lord God, this emphysema! (she places palm of hand on
her chest) It ain’t no picnic! But Addie Rebecca McMahan
hasn’t ever(!) let anything get her down—and she’s not
going to now.
It’s like when my husband Frank passed on. Oohh, how
bad I felt! Even now, I don’t take a breath without
thinking of Frank, you know, somewhere deep down. (She
points to an 8x10 portrait on the night table.) That’s
We spent 43 wonderful years together—35 of them right
here in this house—and for weeks after I lost him I
would just sit and think about the many, many wonderful
memories we made. But then one day it was just …
different, somehow. I just sort of decided it was time
to return to the present.
I remember what I did. I called up my best friends,
Muriel Bonaparte, and I said, “Muriel, do you remember
what we used to do every Wednesday night back when Bud
and Frank were overseas?” Frank and Muriel’s husband,
Bud, were in the Navy together back during World War II.
“Muriel,” I said, “why don’t you and I go bowling?” That
suited her—and off we went. Well, it ended up that
within a month we were in a bowling league twice a week
for practice and once a week in competition.
Our team is made up of wives and widows of Navy Yard
retirees. Our team captain, Amanda Thrasher, always
brings one of those portable cassette blasters and plays
our fight song, “Anchors Aweigh,” whenever one of us
rolls a strike. Well, the doctors say I can’t bowl
anymore—not right now—but Sunday night is the
semi-finals, and you can be your bottom dollar that I’ll
be right there cheering.
(Enter Glasrock technician. He waves – then starts
checking equipment. She waves back.)
Thank the good Lord for these Glasrock folks. I guess
I’d still be at the hospital if it weren’t for them. I’d
probably know what happened yesterday on the soaps—I’ve
been so busy I’ve missed a few—but then I think I can
sacrifice that for this.
(Motions all around her, then reflects silently for a
When they told me I’d have to have help with my
breathing, I dreaded what I’d look like. I don’t know
whether to be proud or ashamed that I’m still vain after
all these years. (fusses with hair in classic primp)
it’s more than vanity I can assure you. Marthy Maxwell
had to start using oxygen, and they put these tubes up
her nose and she couldn’t get around so good. Now mind
you, when you’re struggling for a breath, you don’t care
if they stick a turkey baster up there, but once you
catch your breath and you get a little oxygen to your
brain—you start thinking about QUALITY of life, too.
That’s why I feel so lucky to have this new technology
from Glasrock working for me. Was a time when I cursed
all those computers and highfalutin high-tech. But now
as far as I’m concerned they can run those computers
round the clock—(lower tone—an aside) and I think they
do at Glasrock—if it’s going to help others the way this
(touches her throat) has helped me.
It’s called (said very deliberately) Trans-trach-e-al
Oxy-gen Ther-a-py. How about that? I said it right! The
first time I tried I got all tongue-tied, but now it
rolls off my tongue about as smoothly as the oxygen
flows into my poor old lungs.
(Pats throat again) It’s called SCOOP for short. I guess
because they let you get the scoop on it before you ever
try it—I went to the clinic and watched some TV shows
about it and then talked to real people who were using
SCOOP. That was nice … (pointing to audience with
sweeping motion and using a disclaimer tone of voice)
Not that I don’t trust all you good people, but there is
nothing like talking to someone in your own predicament.
They all loved it—said they breathed better, slept
better and got around great. Like what’s his name used
to say on TV—“get a new lease on life with Geratol.”
Only SCOOP’s got Geratol beat by a mile.
There were a couple of simple steps involved over a
period of a few weeks and ‘voila!’ (pats it again)
were off and running—well, maybe walking. They tell me
it is more effective and less expensive than that nose
one because it uses less oxygen—which is great, because
I’ve got a fine family to leave my money to rather than
having it go up in thin air (hand to throat again and
laughs at pun).
Frank and I raised four beautiful children in this
Frank, Jr. He’s his daddy’s boy. I look at him, and I
understand how one thing just naturally leads to the
Elizabeth Ann—my princess. Yes I do get onto her for
being 36 years old and not married—even once. But I know
she’s happy because she’s where she wants to be—doing
what she want to do! I just wish they had better
telephone service in that Sri Lanka.
(Motions to Glasrock technician)
Excuse me, Charlie, would you hand me that picture?
Thanks. This one is J. Robert McMahan, Esquire—high
priced Harvard lawyer. See these flowers? (points to
dresser) Every Monday and Thursday they are out of here!
J. Robert sends a whole new set-up—prettier than the
And my baby Stevie. Oh, did we spoil that child!
(Off-stage voice: “Mom, lunch will be up in a minute.”)
That’s Donna, Steve’s third wife. Isn’t she sweet? She
left Steve and the boys back in Utica and brought little
Kimberly here so she could, you know, help out with
things that I’m not quite up to yet. They’ll be here
until just after Thanksgiving.
This afternoon, Donna’s taking Kimberly to the Boston
Aquarium. And in a couple of weeks, Steve’s bringing the
boys up, and we’re all going to see the Celtics at the
Garden. Now understand, I’m not saying I can cuss the
refs the way I used to but I can still make my presence
known. Oohh … that Larry Bird … (rolls eye and smiles
as though remembering old romantic exploits).
(Shakes herself out of reverie) Now Charlie here is my
real buddy. He comes every week and makes sure SCOOP and
me are behaving. There are a couple of things I have to
do, like cleaning out this tube once a day, but that’s
no more trouble than brushing my teeth. (taps front
tooth with forefinger) And I am proud to say these are
MY teeth—that’s one thing I’ve been able to hang onto.
Yeah, Charlie here checks on me regularly and brings me
everything I need. It’s nice to see a familiar face
every time, too. And, glory be, those Glasrock folks
even filled out my insurance forms for me—Charlie, did
you do that for me too?
(Charlie smiles and shakes his head “no.”)
Well, anyway, they’re all good to me here in Boston. And
if I want to go to Portland, Oregon, to see Millie
Winslow—she was our best bowler, threw strikes darn near
every time, but decided to move closer to her kids—or to
Dallas, Texas, to visit Frank’s sister—shoot, I can go
anywhere in America and there will be Glasrock folks
there to help. Makes a body breathe easier, if you know
what I mean. (Smiles again at her pun, patting her
Well, Donna’ll be up in a minute, so I want to get
freshened up. But I’ll see you around again
sometime—like at Quincy Market or the museum or right
here next hour. Just not at the hospital if you’ll beg
(Lights dim, spotlight on Glasrock representative.)