Our family recently had a scare when when my father had to be taken to the emergency room. He’s been there before and hates it, like anyone else would. This night in particular the E.R. was so full that there were patients in the hallways in wheelchairs and laying on tables waiting for a room to become available. Luckily, my father had a bed. He was in a room with another older man who was moaning and bellowing in Armenian, but whose speech was unintelligible and the nurses were trying to figure out what was going on with him. This guy was in some serious pain!
I overheard one nurse tell the other that they need a translator, but couldn’t bring anyone in for another 20 minutes. So I walked over and offered to translate the best I could. Three problems:
- He spoke a dialect of Armenian that I have a very hard time understanding.
- His speech was muddled and sounded like his tongue was extremely swollen.
- My skill level speaking and understanding his dialect of Armenian is that of a 2 year old, at best.
His answer to my first question was almost impossible for me understand, so I asked him to repeat his answer slowly. I got the gist of what he was saying. The slurring of his words grew worse while answering my 2nd question. When I asked him to repeat his answer twice, he got frustrated, and in typical Armenian style pointed his finger at me and said, “Shame on you for not understanding how to speak your own language. You must go to school and speak more Armenian so that …” I put my hand on his shoulder and said,”Hyrig (term of respect for an elder meaning “father”), this is not the time or place to tell me this. I promise, I’ll learn to improve my speaking Armenian. Just tell me where it’s hurting so I can tell the nurses.”
All of a sudden I heard what I thought was crying coming from my father in the next bed. I walked over there real fast to see if he was ok. HE WAS LAUGHING! He had hardly said a word to the paramedics, nurses and doctors and didn’t have the energy to speak. He heard every word of the conversation next to him and was lying there cracking up. It was precious.