I sit down on my bed. On the cool, pressed, duvet cover. I fall back against the pillows and stare at the fan. The room is gray, clean, and smells faintly of peach. Yet it feels like I’m back home, in my parents house, in the midst of humid, teenage filth. Walls with sharpie tattoos and a waterbed that hasn’t been made in…ever.
Phone to my ear, I listen as my dad tells me about church this morning. How he started sweating profusely during band practice, and felt dizziness consume his body. And in a move very indicative of who he is, he put down his guitar before he passed out. As it happened, one of the women at the church was a registered nurse. She took his vitals, and while he could hear her, and thought he was responding, he wasn’t. They called my mom, but couldn’t get a hold of her. They called 9-1-1 and an ambulance was dispatched.
One of the sound technicians rode behind the ambulance, and stayed with my dad at the hospital so he wouldn’t be alone. Someone flagged down my mom the moment she pulled into the parking lot. The entire church prayed for my dad during service. The pastor and some friends visited him after.
The doctors told him he was fine, though hours of testing yielded no clue as to what happened. And as I listen to the story I cry. I know he’s okay. I can hear his voice. He’s as calm and nonchalant as if telling me about a morning at the golf course. Just one of those days. But my grandfather died on a golf course. His first (and only) heart attack. I barely remember him now. I don’t want my girls to forget my dad.
How did we get here already? My grandparents all but gone. My parents now the grandparents, and me the aging child. As our conversation ends, I insist he see a cardiologist this week, because as a writer from three states away, I know what’s best for his health. I tell him I love him more than necessary—he laughs in his gentle way. We hang up, but still I lay there, staring at the fan.
I’ve always been aware of the life my parents have outside of me. The world they created for themselves after I left home. The church, the friends, the community. But until today I never really thought about it. Entrenched in the “what ifs” for my own family, and ever the selfish child myself, I never pictured that part of my life changing. I never imagined my parents getting older. I never entertained the “what ifs” for them.
All of which makes me even more grateful for the people who were with my dad today. The friends who saw what I didn’t, stepped in where I couldn’t, and took care of the man who headlined my life for so many years. Hopefully we have many more to come.
With all of my heart, thank you.
©2012 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.