Thursday, September 22, 2011

The year that was: My father's surgery, part 1

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

(I know that I am posting quickly now, maybe it is too much for you to read right now.  Maybe you don't want to read it at all.  :)  That's okay.  I never look at my blog stats and I never know who is reading.  I am just compelled to finish telling this story.  I want to write it down and move on.  Most people who read here know me in real life, or else we've been friends online for years.  Don't feel bad if you can't read it all right now, maybe you'll find time later.  It's all okay with me, it's just something I've got to do.  I'll probably post the next part later today, even, while I have time, and then not post for a few days.  Saturday is my father's 87th birthday.)

The three weeks after my mother's surgery passed all too quickly.  We were balancing my frequent ultrasounds with mom's therapies, care, and doctor's visits with preparation for my father's surgery.

On the morning of the surgery, it was just me and Pop.  My mother should not have been left alone, as she was still in much pain and was having trouble keeping her medications straight.  My oldest son was working, and I needed the second two eldest to watch our little ones for me.  I would be away from dawn to close to midnight.  There was no one to stay with her, so we made sure she had the phone at her side.  She was able to get up and get herself around, minimally.  I was so worried about her, worried about the kids, just plain overwhelmed and worried, really.  I'd worked hard to have things ready at the house for the kids, too:  food, laundry, things to do.

It was the perfect storm of a youngest child caring for parents who were already older when they had her.  I know that my situation really isn't all that unique.  So many people care for their elderly parents and try to juggle work, life, children, and maybe medical situations of their own.  I've been extremely humbled by the incredible love and care I've seen many people take of their elderly.  My situation is perhaps unique in that God has led my husband and I to have a large family, and that I was already worn down by Jeff's illness, and by the fact that I had a baby due in less than a month.  But still, as we analyzed all things, we did not see any other way.  Our family errs a little too much on the side of thinking we are invincible, that we can handle anything.  (If you know us in real life, you are likely laughing at this point.  We have a "sure, I can handle that" mentality.)

Dad drove the 45 minutes to my house.  He can still handle the drive, as he knows the road well and there are only small towns to pass through.  (Truth be told, he still drives really well.  He has great reflexes and has a good intellect which serves him well in crisis situations.)  He's just not too comfortable with city traffic, particularly if he hits construction or detours.  He'd rather meet me at my house and let me drive in the city.

It was a horribly hot and sweaty morning, even though he arrived shortly after 6 a.m.  My Dad is short, only 5 foot tall.  When I hop in his car to drive I have to readjust everything.  I toss his cushion that he uses to lift himself up so that he can see over the dashboard into the backseat.  I push the seat backward, tilt the rearview mirror, strap my very pregnant self in, sweating all the while. 

He struggles with his seatbelt buckle on the passenger side, bursitis makes the necessary movements difficult.  I always reach over without a word an latch the buckle.  He chuckles, embarrassed, but he's really okay with it.  He turns the air on, barely, out of deference for me.  He does not like the air, but knows that I do.  He couldn't possibly crank it high enough for me on this day.

We set out, make it into the heart of downtown traffic.  A woman, perfectly coiffed, races past me.  Angrily, she yells silent words at me and raises her finger in an obscene gesture.

I have no idea what I have done to offend her, but she has no idea of how much her rudeness hurts me on this day.  She has no idea that my heart is already about to explode and I am about to crumble. 

It took awhile, but I have chosen to forgive her for this.  She had no idea.  It is a great lesson that I return to again and again when I am tempted to be angry with some nameless person over a minor grievance.  I have no idea what they are carrying.


  1. A thousand "amens," Holly. The little things we do, the little ways we REact, can have such an impact. To make the impact good requires a conscious choice made perpetually. I KNOW this story will pop in my head the next time I'm in heavy traffic. :)

  2. I'm so glad you are able to share your story, Holly. I'm sure it will encourage many as it has me in their journey here on earth.

    Phil. 3:10 has been my soul cry for some time, but in the past six years especially, I have finally seen the privilege that it is to "know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." I know you can attest to the same as He has taken you so deeply and intimately into that knowing.

  3. Thank you Jill and Violet. Both of you have been true blessings in my life. I'm so grateful for knowing you over the last few years.