Today, of course, was Easter Sunday. It was also my dad’s 86th birthday. He saw fit to celebrate by giving us all a scare.
Since my parents moved to a very small senior apartment two years ago, we’ve had most of the holidays at my brother’s and my shared house. So, it was the five of us, with my sister. As my mom and I peeled some yams and my sister worked on other stuff, my dad came out to the kitchen for a drink. He had been sleeping on the couch in a half seated, almost lying on his side position.
He stood by the cupboard that holds the glasses for a moment. I had asked him something and glanced over to see that he didn’t look quite right.
I saw that he looked unsteady and, thankfully, was able to close the distance of a few steps to him before he could fall. He fell against me as I put an arm around him and held him up while my mom grabbed the nearby stool. He was all sweaty and clammy and pale, and kept yawning a lot and putting his head down like he wanted to just fall asleep.
I said what everyone was thinking, that we should get him to the hospital, but he didn’t want to go. My mom said he has had fits like this before. I also said about the yawning, that it means the brain needs oxygen. I feared something major was happening.
My brother had come out to the kitchen by then and we switched out the stool for a chair with a back. He sat a couple minutes then insisted he use the bathroom, which is what he was on his way to do when he came into the kitchen. My brother and I led him in, for fear that he might fall. Privacy was not the priority for the moment. It was a sitting down event. When he was situated, we went out and my mom went in to make sure he was okay. My brother and I guided him back to his chair when done.
He sat for a bit longer in the kitchen with a coat over him and his color came back. I happen to have a blood pressure monitor, since mine has been running high for a while. We checked it and it was pretty low. He said it was low the morning before, and he only took a half pill of his blood pressure medication today. Well, that’s going to get checked on, I assure you.
It was a scary and humbling moment. Given his age, we all know there can’t be an abundance of time left for him to be here with us, but this was the first time it really hit home. At least, the first time since the day of his quadruple bypass heart surgery. That was at least twelve years ago. I think more like 14 or 15. He came through that with flying colors, and even though it was a nerve-wracking day, the risks are fairly low and I felt like it was going to be okay.
Today was different. It was somehow worse. I guess because the end is nearer, and we didn’t know what was happening. Was it a heart attack, stroke, or something else?
It’s tough to see your parents become weak and vulnerable, when you love and respect them so much. You looked up to them with unquestioning faith as a child, for comfort, guidance and provision.
I will cherish the time we have. I’ve wanted to write down some of my dad’s experiences as he tells them, to share in his memories, and preserve them. A scrapbook, of sorts. Now is the time to do that, and anything else I’ve “always wanted to do” with him.
The cycle of life spins quickly. So, get out there and live it! And, share your experiences, because we’re all in this together.