Friday, October 05, 2007

And ... Exhale ...

Wednesday felt like a Three Stooges episode. I spent the day shuttling up and down from my mom's room to my dad's room, and to the cafeteria (where I said to the cashier, "I swear all this isn't for me," because I was in there rather constantly), and then to my parents' house and back several times, all the while trying to make my legs work.

Here's a tip: The week that your father ends up in the hospital is not the week to start working with a personal trainer. Because once mom ended up in the hospital, I canceled my other sessions for the week anyway, and I could barely walk.

But I got them both home, first dad, then, many hours later, mom. In between, Dave and I finally caught each other on our cells.

"How are you?" he asked.

"I'm awful," I said. And it felt really good to be honest.

(An important note: My sister-in-law has been brilliant through all of this. Not that my brothers did do their part, but she's been great about calling and letting me know her availablity [e.g., "I'm on my way to the dentist, but after that I'll be home for the rest of the day if you need anything"] and stopping in at the hospital to check on mom and dad and their respective statuses. She's been through a lot with her parents and hospitals in the past couple years, so she's skillful at extracting information and prodding people along.)

That evening, I hung out at their place (my brother and sis-in-law came by with the kids for a while; grandkids are good medicine) until my parents had both showered. I kept an ear out for thuds coming from the bathroom, but both of them showered without incident. And then they slept. I told my mom to take the cordless phone to bed with her in case she needed to call me in the middle of the night.

And I slept in my clothes. And left my contacts in. Just in case.

But the night went fine, and I called her yesterday morning and she asked me to take her to church for a minute. And then I spent the day running to the store to stock up on some food for them and picking up prescriptions and doing some cooking (mom wanted my linguini and white clam sauce, which she pronounced "better than that restaurant in New York") and running a few errands with them. Dad just wanted to get out of the house, so he hung out in the back seat of my car while we made our rounds. I warmed up dinner for them (my linguini is better if made ahead and warmed) and mom said, "I don't feel right about this." Uh oh. Her head, I asked her? "No, that you're waiting on me," she said.

That's my mother for you. "Hey, if I was sick, you'd be doing all this for me," I said. And, as I said in the hospital when she was thanking me for everything I was doing, "Gotta earn my keep." It's a standing joke between us, but really. Think about all your parents do for you over the course of a lifetime. Spending a couple days helping them get back on their feet is hardly enough payback. Last night, as I was leaving, she called out, "Thank you so much for everything, Beth," and I called back, "My pleasure!" And really, it was. It was tiring, sure, but I was glad to be able to do it.

And there were bright spots to the day. Yesterday afternoon, when I'd been home for about 10 minutes to get a few things done, Mom called and said, "You have a pressie here, but it needs to be opened soon." Flowers? I hopped in the car and went back to her house, thinking that I didn't put it past my mother to have called the florist to have flowers delivered to her house for me as a surprise. But she hadn't. On her counter were two huge boxes from Martha Stewart Flowers.

"Who did this?" I asked, already knowing.

"Who do you think?" she said, knowing I already knew.

My cousins Patty and Barry (who we just saw in New York) sent my parents a beautiful arrangement of roses and calla lillies in pretty fall colors with a note that said, "Get well and stay that way. PLEASE!" And Patty sent me irises, my favorite flower, which, happily, came as closed stems. Irises only last a couple days, so if they came fully open, they'd already be starting to fade this morning. Instead, they're just starting to bloom.

(Another note: Patty's also been great through all of this. Her parents went through a lot, medically, before they passed away, so she could relate completely. She was the one who let me decompress on the phone. Because every so often, I just had to say, "What the fuck? This blows!")

I headed home with my big box of flowers to find another box on my front porch from Organic Bouquet, so I instantly knew that they were from Kelley, my friend and co-worker. And inside that box were two bunches of purple and ivory calla lillies.

So I spent a little while arranging flowers, which is a very good task to do when you're stressed, one of those tasks that takes you out of the moment and makes you focus. And I called Kelley to thank her and catch up a bit. She'd called and left a message earlier in the week, letting me know she was there if I needed to talk, and it was good to talk to someone outside the circle of this week's activities, someone not a doctor or a nurse or a family member looking for an update, not that I minded giving updates.

I took a picture of the flowers and sent one to Kel. "Ooh, they're elegant," she IMed. "I did good!"

Yes she did.

And this morning, the Patty's irises are starting to open. I told her voicemail yesterday that I should have an IrisCam so she could watch them bloom. But I'll have to settle for taking periodic pictures.

Here, though, are Kelley and Patty's flowers yesterday. So beautiful. And very much a salve for my harried soul this week.

(And for all the guys reading, I can't pass up this opportunity to remind you of the power of flowers. Guys don't think about sending them nearly as often as women wished they did. So on behalf of all women, may I suggest that you pick up the phone or go online today and send flowers to your mother or wife or fiancee or partner or girlfriend or any important woman in your life just because. An unexpected floral delivery will earn you more points than you can count.)

This morning, mom called sounding like herself again and said she felt fine. She tried a little coffee and it started to make her woozy, so she's cutting out caffeine (a good thing, anyway) and she's going to try driving today.

Things, it would seem, are returning to normal.

My most heartfelt thanks to everyone for all their calls and e-mails and comments and good wishes. They really, truly helped.


Blogger Chris. You know the one I mean. said...

Good to hear everything is back to somewhat normalcy. And the flowers are gorgeous.

Last you mentioned, your dad was a little weak on one side, but... have you heard anything as far as a prognosis for the strength returning completely?

5:15 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Prognosis is good, Chris, thanks. His doctor expects that he'll be able to go back to work in eight weeks. He's doing very well, considering all he's been through.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girls ... don't underestimate the power of sending flowers to guys, either. Glad your folks are OK. You're right ... adulthood starts now.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

RIght, girls can send flowers to guys, too, but I think the impact of the gesture isn't as great. Guys aren't as gushy about girls as receiving flowers. They'd probably get more mushy over a delivery of cigars or scotch or something. But the point is the same: unexpected delivery of thoughtful gift = many points.

12:45 PM  

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