“People who want to believe something will do so despite any and all evidence to the contrary.”
Carolyn Hax, The Washington Post, February 3, 2018
“Everything happens on God’s schedule, not mine.”
A.A. meeting, Washington, D.C.
These are two quotes I’ve come to appreciate over the past two weeks. I’ve been away dealing with a crazy family drama that I’d not wish on my worst enemy.
I’ll start by saying as of today, February 4, everyone involved in this story is fine. We all may be a little grayer, a little more frayed at the edges for having the experience, but there’s always a blessing to be gained for weathering a tragedy: Our family has grown closer, and I don’t think my Dad will put off following Good Orderly Direction (G.O.D.) again in the future.
On Saturday, January 20, 2:30 in the afternoon, I received a text from my first cousin Mike, who lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was unusual because Mike and I (although close) don’t really talk that much via text or telephone — only on birthdays and holidays, and during football season when Mississippi State is playing well.
Mike: “When’s the last time you spoke to your Dad?”
At first, I wasn’t overly concerned; but when two hours passed and he still hadn’t called us back, I was uneasy. Mike couldn’t simply drive over to check on Dad; he takes care of his 90-year-old mother full-time.
I told Mike: “I can’t stand waiting anymore. I’ll ask my friend Helen to knock on his door.”
Thank God I did.
When Helen arrived at my Dad’s apartment, she had me on her cell phone as she banged loudly on his door. No answer.
“He’s in there,” she said to me. “Something’s not right.”
“Call 911,” I said.
It was the worst 30 minutes of my life, as I waited 850 miles away, my friend standing by, awaiting EMTs and the police. My heart felt like it was beating 1000 times a minute. I knew it wasn’t good — I thought my heart was going to break right then.
When the EMTs broke down my Dad’s door, they found him on the floor, dehydrated. The apartment was 85 degrees, he’d not been drinking water.
“He’s alive!” Helen said to me, “but he’s insisting on not going to the hospital. He says it’s inconvenient for him! Can you believe it?”
Helen put me on the phone with the EMTs. I told them that I had Power of Attorney, and to take him to the hospital. My friend stayed with my Dad until he was admitted and stabilized; I got on the next plane out.
When I finally got to Dad’s hospital, the doctors told me he was in renal failure, and would have probably died if the EMTs had gotten to him any later.
Right now, Dad is in a nursing/rehab facility. And he’s damn lucky: His doctor told him his kidneys will heal, but he’ll need dialysis for several weeks. And he’ll move into assisted living. I insisted.
And yes, he agreed.
I hate that it took something like this to get my Dad to agree to necessary changes for the sake of his health and well being. For so long, he wanted to believe he was fine on his own, even when the signs were there that he needed help.
But the reality is that Dad wasn’t ready to hear the message until it took something dramatic to get his attention.
He’s doing fine — he’s actually making slow, steady progress with physical therapy. He’s cooperating with folks who want to help him.
And, he’s complaining, which my sister and I know is a good sign.