This past week was very rough for my family and me—but at least it ended well!
On Tuesday night, I got a phone call from my sister saying that my Dad had had a heart attack and was in the hospital—but no further details. I was SO shocked. My Dad eats right (for the most part) and exercises!—how could he, of all people, have had a heart attack?! So I got on the phone with my other family members to find out more details, and eventually learned that Dad was stable, but that he needed open heart surgery the next day.
Open-heart surgery!!—that sounded so scary to me!! My hubby and I packed our bags and headed up to Wisconsin (to the hospital) early the next morning.
I saw Dad before his surgery, and he expressed to me that he couldn’t believe that most of his kids came to be with him. (I have a brother who lives in Utah, so he unfortunately couldn’t make it—but the rest of us—I have 7 siblings—live at least within a 4-5 hour drive of him…so we all came to be with him and my Mom in the hospital.) And even my brother and sister-in-law in Utah were calling and on Facebook often to hear updates, so Dad knew they were there with us, too. As Dad told me that he couldn’t believe we were all there with him, he got teary-eyed and said that he was so touched that we were all there. Well, of course then I cried, too. I love my Daddy-o so much!
My Mom had a rough time with this, too. She—like all of us—never expected that my Dad would have a heart attack. He was always so healthy! In fact, the day he had the heart attack, he had been having chest pains (he thought it was heartburn), and he went out and mowed the lawn! That’s just the way Dad is.
But I’m happy to report that my Dad is doing well right now. He had the surgery late on Wednesday night, and today, the doctors told him that he’ll be going home! That was great news. I called Dad and told him to be sure to take it easy when he goes home, and he said “Carla, I’m not that dumb.” I had to laugh.
I know it won’t be easy for him—or Mom—since he can’t do all of the things he used to do just yet. But I think (I hope!) that he’ll follow the doctor’s orders and get lots of rest.
One good thing about this past week (besides the fact that my Dad is doing better) is that my siblings and I (and their wonderful spouses) really reconnected. We really came together to support each other, and in the process, grew closer. I saw my sister Holly (who lives in Minnesota) for the first time in two years. It was wonderful to see her again. Since Holly and I live in different states (Minnesota and Illinois), we don’t see each other very often, so at one point someone commented that they barely ever see her and I together. Then someone else said, “I was beginning to wonder if you two maybe were both the same person.” We laughed and laughed—and then of course, everyone had to get out their cameras and take pictures of Holly and me sitting next to each other. It was too funny!
I also talked to so many of my siblings and their spouses on the phone. I talked to my sister-in-law in Utah for the first time in probably almost ten years. It was so great to hear her voice!
Then, one day, a few days after Dad’s surgery, I had been on the phone a lot and suddenly realized that I had talked on the phone to four of my sisters in one day! I don’t think that’s ever happened!
And when you’re waiting in the hospital, there’s not much to do but talk, so talk we did. One day, I heard the stories of how two of my sisters met their spouses. I had never heard those stories before, and it was fun to hear about all of that! It was just so great reconnecting with all of them.
I also felt like I reconnected with my Mom, too. My hubby and I spent almost four days with my Mom (most of the time at the hospital), and even though it wasn’t under the best circumstances, I really enjoyed spending time with her. In the hospital, to pass the time when we couldn’t be with Dad, we fixed puzzles…and we ate together and shared stories. It sounds weird to say this, but it really was a nice time.
And also, it was great to see how strong we all were together, and how we all possess different strengths. Two of my sisters and my sister-in-law are all in the medical profession (one’s a respiratory therapist; the other two are nurses), so they could offer a lot of insight into what was happening with Dad. What did it mean when Dad’s hands were puffy? That’s normal. Why does he have that “Frankenstein-looking thing” attached to his neck? That’s normal, too. (I think it was for delivering drugs or checking his blood pressure; I can’t exactly remember.)
And my sister-in-law Mary is just a gem. She works at the hospital where my Dad was staying (she works in the OB-GYN area, with nursing mothers)—so that gave us all a certain comfort level. And every morning, she’d wake up really early (like at 6 a.m.—or maybe earlier) and then go over to the hospital to see Dad. It was such a comfort to know that she’d always be there in the morning. When I told her, “Mary, that’s so nice of you to get here so early to see Dad,” she said, “Oh, it’s no problem. I’m a morning person, anyway.” Still, she didn’t have to be there, and she was. What a lovely person!
So I guess you can say that even though it was a tough week, it was also a good week.
I told my siblings that we need to get together (ALL of us) more often, and my Dad agreed. He told me that although we normally have a “January Birthday Bash” and a “May Birthday Bash" (we have a lot of January and May birthdays in my family), we didn’t have either of those this year, since everyone was so busy. He sounded a little sad about it, and it made me feel even more determined to make sure we all get together—at least once a year.
Maybe this year—after Dad’s feeling even better—Thanksgiving will be the right time to get together and thank God for the blessing of healing my wonderful Daddy-o.