Sunday, December 24, 2006

Daddy's Home

My Dad is resting an home today after four days in the hospital. According to my Mom, he is starting to look like his normal self today. A Christmas wish granted.

On Monday morning I saw my Mom's cell number flash on my cell phone. I knew immediately, something was not good. My mother never uses her cell phone, ever.

When I answered, Mom informed me that she and Dad were on the way to the hospital. Dad's heart rate was so low at his doctor's visit, he was instructed to go immediately to the local hospital.

My parents are old and have been married forever. I am not sure when they officially became old, but I am discovering that old people have rules. In my parents world, Dad always drives. Period.

Dad has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. I knew that he was on a lot of meds but I did not know heart medicine was in the mix. Mind you, Dad could have had a stroke, seizure, or simply passed out. But there are rules. Mom rides shotgun.

Mom assured me that Dad was fine, under the circumstances and they would be at the hospital shortly.

During this brief conversation, I was not quite sure who to be annoyed with, the doctor or my folks. Fear was the best description of how I was feeling.

I love both my folks. I was terrified that they would, in this little 20 mile excursion, kill themselves and faceless strangers. Where my folks live 20 miles is local.

My best friend recently buried her father. His funeral flashed in my mind.

When I received the call, I was on my way to take an account that I actually like to lunch. Nice clients are rarity in my business. I would be two hours. Mom told me not to rush. Dad stopped taking one of his pills and it screwed up his system. The doctor told them once the old body was recalibrateted, he would be fine. The plan was to keep him at least overnight.

I called my older brother who was closer to the hospital at that moment. I told him what was going on and asked him to meet the folks at the ER.

I told him that I should get there in enough time to relieve him and chat with the doctor. He is money. "I got it, Sis," as he hung up.

It seemed like a week took place during the lunch. One member of my party was a nun. She sensed my anxiety and her words of kindness gave me comfort.

After lunch, I dropped off my employee who whispered a prayer for my family. The traffic gods shined on me. The route that i had to take always has either an accident or a construction project.

By the time I reached the hospital, Dad had been moved to a room and was hooked up to every machine imaginable.

By this time, Mom was worn out. My brother decided to take her home. I promised to wait for the cardiologist and call everyone with an update. With that my brother gave me a big old hug. I needed it at the time.

Dad was pretty spent, so we sat quietly as the sun began to fade into the evening. Before the doctor arrived I had to know why Dad was screwing around with his meds. He told me that the one pill "messed with my stomach." Unfortunately, it was his heart medicine and he didn't bother to tell his doctor until this morning.

I recalled my parents discussing the high cost of their medication. I could always talk to my Dad about sensitive stuff. Money is a sensitive topic.

I asked if he was he cutting back on his meds because of the cost. He said no. He is the collateral damage of the collapse of the American steel industry. After 38 years of service, he was forced into early retirement. They eliminated his life insurance policy, slashed his health coverage and cut his pension by 15%.

I made him promise if the cost of the meds were an issue to let me know.

Once we chatted with the cardiologist, we just sat with the sounds of the machines providing a break in the silence. I found comfort in the rhythm of the machines.

Finally, visiting hours were over.

As I was leaving, I told Dad " don't die yet, OK?"

With a big old grin, he told me "God didn't want him messin' up his Heaven."

Presumptuous aren't we? I responded. We both just laughed, and fought back tears.

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