Monday, December 31, 2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve written- although I have a good excuse this time. I just returned from a three-week visit to my little corner of the Midwest. My dad had knee surgery in early December and a few days later he had a heart attack. Apparently, it is pretty common when you get older. The shock to the body from surgery causes the arteries and platelets to get sticky, narrowing the blood flow. The nurse gave us a cartoon book describing the process. Blood cells are like little red cars that flow through the arterial highway (about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti- who knew?). The highway suddenly narrows, traffic lanes merge together abruptly and there’s a pile up.

“Oh, this is interesting!” I said to my father, shoving the cartoon book in his face. “Look at all these little red cars with the frowny faces.”

“A piece of spaghetti! Did you know that?”

I settled back in my hospital lounge chair. “Wouldn’t life be easier if everything was explained using cartoons?” I asked. “It would certainly demystify the vagina.”

He stared at the ceiling above his hospital bed probably wishing the morphine drip ran a little quicker and that his son would shut the hell up.

What goes through your mind when you’ve been close to death? He’ll be 82 years old in a few weeks. Do you review your life? Is there regret? I’m not certain what he would have to regret- he’s lived a good honorable life; raised six kids that enjoy his company. He’s traveled the world. In fact he and my mom cancelled a month long tour of Southeast Asia for the knee surgery. A few years ago they went to Jerusalem during a travel advisory. There had been an influx of bombing and violence. We questioned whether it was a wise trip to make. “It’s not getting any better and we aren’t getting younger so we’re going.”

I stayed with them while he got his strength back. Running errands, getting him to doctor’s visits and taking my mom to the grocery store. The other kids scheduled times to stagger visits in an effort to not overwhelm my parents. In short, we circled the wagons and took care of each other- like we were taught.