I’m in Texas, sitting in a hospital room with my Dad. I told my Mom to get the hell out of Dodge for a while and I’d look after him this afternoon. He had major surgery yesterday which lasted 8 hours, total. It was successful but there’s a lot of rehab in his future, discomfort, and another surgery eventually but we hope to get Dad to a much better quality of life.
I fed him his dinner just a bit ago. Cream of Wheat and applesauce, with a spoon. I had to force myself not to make airplane noises as I was inching the spoon toward his mouth.
It’s a very new feeling to me, the tables being turned, when even just for a few hours, I am taking care of my Dad’s most basic needs. Sure, the nurses help with the bathroom stuff. I fed him dinner and feed him ice chips whenever he needs them. I prop pillows where they will make him feel more comfortable. It’s a classic case of role reversal.
I’m the strong one. I do for him now what he did for me during so many childhood illnesses. I was never hospitalized until I had children but I suffered with horrible ear infections when I was a kid. I remember Dad dabbing “monkey blood” on my tonsils when I had a sore throat. God, I hated that shit. He pulled my loose teeth with, yes, rusty pliers that he cleaned up. He put warm drops in my ears when I had ear infections.
The best memory I have of my Dad taking care of me was when I was in labor with Landon. I’d been in induced labor since early morning and it was well after midnight the next day. I was exhausted, in pain, and just so over the whole baby thing. A thunderstorm moved in and the lightning was incredible. During one of my bouts of whimpering, Dad asked if he could rub my back. It was wise that he asked first because earlier, I’d told E that if he touched me one more time, I’d perform an impromptu vasectomy on him with my own bare hands. I was willing to give anything a try, so I said yes and he rubbed my back for the longest time while the storm roared on outside the hospital room window.
My parents have helped take care of both of my children in NICU, ICU, post-op, regular hospital rooms. They’ve changed diapers, emptied colostomy bags, been peed on, pooped on, puked on, fed and burped my babies, sang them lullabies when they were so very sick. They’ve encouraged E and I when we were so down after yet another hospital stay that yielded no solutions. They’ve cheered us with hot meals and prayers when all we wanted to do is curl into a fetal position and hide inside a tiny closet and pretend the medical horror with our children wasn’t happening. Parents continue to take care of you far longer than the required 18 years.
I know a lot of you have done things for your parents that you never thought you’d have to do. Some of you have went much further than feeding your parent to take care of them. Some of you are going through it now. Some have already been through all that and had to bury their parent much too early. I hate that some of us are getting old enough that we have to face these things.
But at the same time, it’s comforting. It comforts me to know that this is truly the circle of things, the way it’s intended. Our parents cared for us when we were young, they raised us up to be caring, loving, responsible adults so that we can be the kind of helper we need to be for our aging parents. There’s nowhere, other than with E and my kids, that I’d rather be right now than with my Dad, who has given me so much.
It’s time to pay it forward.
I hope y’all are doing well. I hope to catch up and start reliably posting new blogs at least once a week. I haven’t felt very funny lately so I don’t want to write but I just figured out that I don’t have to be funny. Just write.
I love you all! Thanks so much for all the messages, thoughts, and prayers. I have amazing friends and family.