Tag Archives: family

This part of adulthood is The Worst

 

This post was originally entitled “I am nothing but feelings.” You’ll see.Dad dimplesThe phone rang at 10:46 AM on November 17. It was a Monday so I was at work when my parents’ home number flashed on my cell phone, making my heart jump to my throat.

“Hello?” I answered, feeling tense.

It wasn’t Mom, calling to tell me she was taking Dad to the hospital. It was Dad, sounding fine.

I willed myself to breathe again.

Dad said he felt bad for not calling more. He just called to chat.

For years, Dad didn’t know my phone number – seriously – and it drove my mother nuts. She gave him grief about it constantly, writing the number on notepads in the house and entering it into his seldom-used and seldom-seen cell phone. But I always told him the same thing: I know how much you love me.

Still, it’s a surprise when Dad calls. A great surprise. I drop everything for him.

We talked about The Voice, which he absolutely loves. The bromance between Adam and Blake cracks him up. But he has a new favorite now.

Via JustJared and NBC

Dad asked about my cold and told me that he’s feeling good. The last three years have taught me not to take that for granted. Tomorrow is not assured.


Holidays are different now. On Thanksgiving night, I cried in my childhood bedroom thinking ahead to the day when I will no longer have a dad.

I used to save projects for Dad. A necklace that needs fixing. A shelf to be mounted on my apartment wall. He was my own personal McGyver. No challenge was too great for Dad.

But now, Dad is often physically vulnerable. I don’t ask him to do things for me now because I know it would break his heart to say “I can’t. I’m so sorry, Jen.”

My father seems to be fading like an old Polaroid. Sometimes I think about asking if he’s scared. And by scared, I mean about dying. But that’s a door I can’t open. Even thinking and typing the word feels like a betrayal.


Dad spent six days in a hospital two hours’ drive from home last week. His condition, pulmonary hypertension, is very difficult to manage. He has an excellent specialist who does everything you’d want a doctor to do, from calling the house to check in between appointments to visiting my father in the hospital, even though he’s out on vacation.

But getting Dad back on course takes time and tries his patience. He hates the hospital food, and the hospital twin bed and worst of all, the hospital TV that doesn’t offer a guide or menu. Fortunately he loves the nurses (and they love him).

I call a few times each day, trying to encourage and distract him.

“At least The Voice is on tonight, Dad.”

“You’re right, Jen. I can’t wait. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”

“I love you, Dad. So much.”

And then I hang up and cry. I can’t let Dad know how scared I am.


 

December 18 update: Dad was just diagnosed with shingles. 

I survived the mother-daughter weekend!

I had a mother-daughter weekend in the DC area. A cousin got married and Mom asked me to be her date. Dad is doing pretty well, but his health ups and downs mean he’s less likely to enjoy all of the standing around a wedding reception can entail, or a four-hour car ride.

I was [mostly] happy to step in, for the chance to see relatives and to try to see old friends in DC, time permitting.

And to see my mother too, yes. So long as she didn’t comment on my weight, hairstyle, lack of boyfriend and/or failure to visit.

The wedding was lovely.

Flowers

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Guest post: Going Home

You guys really liked my friend Candace’s recent guest post. Fortunately, she has volunteered another, this time about what it means to go home.

The more you like and comment on this post, the more likely Candace will post more. Hint, hint.

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My parents moved from my hometown of Alpharetta, GA when I graduated from high school. That meant that when I went to visit them, I wasn’t going home–I was going to a new place that didn’t have my friends and old stomping grounds. And while I did occasionally get back, it wasn’t as frequent as most of my old friends, many of who actually still live there.

I went back to Alpharetta one recent weekend for a dear friend’s baby shower. It was wonderful to see old friends, old crushes and old haunts. I loved being introduced to new babies, new spouses and new homes. I got legally drunk in bars with people I used to illegally drink with in parks, by the river and in certain parent’s basements. We even had an unfortunate run-in with the cops. It felt just like old times. Except it wasn’t.

I couldn’t figure out where the nagging sadness I felt on my way to the airport was stemming from (and no, it wasn’t due to my raging hangover). As I sped down I-85 with tears in my eyes, I realized this: traveling to Atlanta is no longer coming home. It’s visiting old friends and reminiscing about good times – but it is no longer my home.

Practicing our #FrannyandCooper game faces!!! Let's do this, kids!

A photo posted by Candace A (@candacearm) on

I have created a new home and a new life in Washington DC. It involves an overpriced apartment, a bearded gentleman who is my sun, my moon and my stars, great friends and a happy hour or two. I love my home. My home is not perfect, but it is perfect for me.

There’s nothing wrong with a walk down memory lane. But letting go of the past can be so freeing. My present and my future is filled with so much happiness that I can’t help but to want to sprint towards it with my arms wide open.

Gotta go. My flight home is boarding.

They call me Calamity Jane

My parents, that is. More for the way it sounds, I guess, versus the actual person.

*   *   *

I have thought, recently, that my life is pretty great, although it would be great if I could stay out of my own way. Broken bones and other minor catastrophes have been interruptions of really happy times.

And then I did it again: last Tuesday, I hit the back of my head on a shelf. I have surely hit my head harder – getting in and out of the Kenya van and on US Air regional jets, for two examples.

But for whatever reason, I saw stars this time. And when I tried to tell someone what happened, I couldn’t get the right words from my head to my mouth. And then I cried.

I didn’t go to the hospital or the doctor until Wednesday. They said I have a concussion but no bleeding in my brain (!!) or anything. They told me to rest.

At first, the plot of Law & Order reruns was too much to comprehend. The sun felt too bright. I suddenly needed my glasses to watch TV.

Until Sunday, the worst of my concussion was the dizziness. Oh, and the utter boredom of resting without reading or writing much.

On Sunday my parents visited and I took a cab to the city. The ride made me dizzy and nauseated but I thought I’d be OK. At first, I was.

family

But then I crashed. Hard.

Approximately forty-five minutes in, my head began throbbing and the dizziness required me to rest my head on the wall behind my seat. I couldn’t finish my lunch. Mom and Dad sent me home.

This totally sucks. I cannot recommend that you get yourself a concussion when presented with the option.

Avoid.

Sidebar: I requested a stupid Uber. A driver confirmed and for whatever reason, I added my destination. Time passed, I opened the app to check for the driver’s ETA and…nothing. Apparently the driver didn’t want to go to Williamsburg, canceled and I didn’t get a notification. Fortunately I found a yellow cab soon after and within thirty minutes, I was in my bed.

Late night TV

Staying up past my ‘bedtime’ has been a way of life, all of my life. As much as I love sleep, I happen to like having my sleep start late.

I couldn’t tell you if nature or nurture made me a night owl. My father in particular, loves to stay up late and when I’m in Rehoboth with my family or back home in Scranton, I am shocked if I find my father has gone to sleep before me.

Even in my earliest memories, I exist as a night owl.

When I was a little kid, Dad worked second shift so I spent most nights with Mom and Nana. While Nana would often retreat to her bedroom in the early evening, my goal was to stay downstairs in the den with my TV-watching Mom as late as possible.

I was a good pretender

I was a good pretender

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Vacation #2 of 3

In I-am-so-lucky news, today I am leaving for my annual Rehoboth Beach vacation.

beach

This is not to be confused for my Bahamas vacation.

Bahamas

Or my upcoming trip to Kenya.

Expect some funny family stories. They’re a-comin’.

What are you doing for 4th of July, American readers?

The other grandmother

It makes me sad not to know if I would have called her Grandmother or Granny or some other name.

It would not be Nana. That name was reserved for my mother’s mother. I never got a chance to call my father‘s mother anything; she died when I was less than a year old. 

I have to use my imagination to fill in the gaps of my real life knowledge.

scanI can only guess that she might have liked to be called Babcia. Continue reading