Sunday night: My dad’s had a heart attack. Healthy living, no family history, but there he lies, in a Boston hospital waiting for a diagnostic test to understand how bad the damage is and what happens because of it.I’ve always said he lives a charmed life, and this man had his heart attack right in his primary care doctor’s offices. In the days ahead, he would hear “how lucky he was” over and over. He was, and we are.
Monday morning: I leave behind my housemate, one week out from knee replacement surgery. She’s been through knee replacement before and is doing well, so her dad accompanies me to Boston. We call a friend on the way to check in and take care of the dogs for her, while we are gone for the day.
Dad’s charmed life – My housemate had been through this before. A week earlier and she would have been in her surgery. Over the years, I’d been on many hospital and doctor trips for her mother and father. That plus my housemate’s medical background were gifts to my dad. Gifts paid forward.
Over the years, being around her mom and dad with their heart issues, I had developed experience and knowledge helpful now to my parents. This would turn out to be one of my unique skills brought to this life event. And as the eldest child and family communications point person for the hospital, I hope one of the other skills I brought was helping my brothers and me to gel together for this crisis.
Her dad would accompany me on my two-hour Boston trips each day for the next 10 days. He has been through triple bypass surgery, and has both a pacemaker and defibrillator buried under his chest skin. I have an advisor, survivor and a wise, kind-hearted soul by my side – who is also the same age and generation as dad. I think I’m lucky, too, bringing this gift to my family.
Sometimes we can’t do it all, whether it’s at home or at the office. Sometimes, more often than we probably think of it, we NEED to rely on outside structure or outside support.
Who has a skill you don’t have? Find your outside support or structure.
Or who can do something we CAN do, so that what we have time to do more of what WE are uniquely best at.
During the day Monday, I update my brothers and close family on dad’s status. Once again, I reach out and what do I get in return? I’m embraced not only by their love and compassion, but we also come together and offer our skills to the family.
One brother has social work background and work with the older population. He will become particularly helpful as dad moves to rehab and then home, to work through services and for his social work types of skills and knowledge. He knows his ways around the maze, as people say.
My other brother is quite organized, a business analyst, and lives locally, so he can get things done and bring mom into the hospital. I noticed he brings his notebook with him to visits and meetings — notes, questions, answers.
What an embrace this must feel like to mom and dad.
Dad and mom raised us to learn something from everyone we meet and every situation we encounter. I think they’d be proud !