The call came on an evening when I'd had a really rough day at work. Ask any day care provider, they'll tell you that a full moon means rowdy toddlers. So I was ready for an evening off, a drink before dinner, a night of meaningless television. But it all got skewed a little when my cell rang, and it was my sister. My mother had been taken to the hospital. Details aren't important, but it's the same story all people eventually participate in. Pain, incapacity in various ways, hospitalization, rehabilitation, a nursing home. Call after call, day after day, and the childish fear builds inside me.
Then another call, this time regarding my dad. Stroke, a pacemaker. Other things. So a visit is scheduled. A visit, oddly enough, that I will make myself, by myself, as an adult who is capable of doing such things. My husband has to work, but the kids will go with me. Because I can do this by myself. Right?
We check into a hotel. A first. We've always stayed with my parents. Then we go to the hospital to see my dad. Oddly, he looks good. He's surprised to see us, even more surprised we came to see him first, before we see my mother. Pleased, even, to learn this.
I'm glad to learn he's doing good. Pacemaker is working good, stroke was minor, no dementia. He's still my dad, just older.
Then the visit to my mom. At the nursing home/rehabilitation center. She's surprised to see us. A CNA comes to put her in a wheelchair so we can go visit her in the big room. We leave the room, to give her some privacy. When she sees us again, she's surprised to see us. Again. We talk some more. She asks us how old my kids are, many times. More questions. The same ones, many times. I'm pleased to see she remembers my kids, their names, what they're into right now.
We're there late at night, we get to tuck her in. I have an insane desire to stay all night, even though my kids are sleepy, falling asleep in their chairs. I want to watch over her, the way I did my children when they were small.
Back at home, I watch the shows I've DVR'ed. I cry. But I'm smart enough to know it's not the shows I'm watching that I'm crying at .But I greet the dogs, clean a little, do some laundry. Be a wife/mom, basically. Hope that I can forge an adult relationship with my sister and brother. Spend a lot of time being grateful for my wonderful, caring, loving, husband.
Full circle. Life is like that. I hate it. I'm glad I get to help, even a little.
Mostly, I am sooo glad that my parents were there for me. I will always love them, even though they aren't the same now as they were when I was little. I hope I inspire the same love and devotion in my own children, but I don't think so. I can't imagine being as great a parent as mine were. I can't imagine my husband loving me for the next thirty years. I'm a horrible person, I'm a failure at all I do. How can I measure up to my parents? I know I've failed, and I pray that God takes up the slack and turns it into something wonderful for their sakes. But I know that they've inspired me to try. Both my own parents, and the ones I got when I got married. How lucky can a person get? I got two wonderful parents when I was born, and now I've got a wonderful mother-in-law and step-father-in-law, to inspire me. And my husbands dad, even though he's passed away, has also given me instruction in how to be a parent.
God bless parents everywhere.