Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seeing and Running—Reflections on a two year journey

For most of the last two years I left town only to see my children and grandchildren, and even then, waited until it was almost to the point of necessity—a birth, celebration, graduation, babysitting opportunity or several events combined. They were precious years in the life of our family, the final two years of my Daddy’s well-lived life.

On March 3, 2006 I had a call from pregnant CB that she would be seeing a perinatologist the afternoon of March 9 because Roo was not growing as she should be. The plan was for Kak to fly home for Spring break (she was still in DC in college) on March 10, so the timing was perfect. Except that 45 minutes before I left town on March 9 Nannie called that she was on the way to the ER behind Dubbie, who had fallen down three steps and broken his hip and was sedated, lying on a board in an ambulance. A couple of hours later as I walked out of the ER into the parking lot where I could get better cell reception and speak privately, I got a “call” from Father God, who told me this would be the beginning of the ending. I experienced just about every emotion know to human flesh—fear, shock, despair, grief, longing, joy, sadness, love, hate, anger, loneliness, fatigue, and most of all the questioning.

Two weeks later Daddy was in a rehab wing, doing very well physically. Our relatively small family (four people in town including Kak) was exhausted, having sat with him day and night because of hospital psychosis which caused him to have hallucinations beginning at sundown every evening. His hip was repaired with a plate and screw, his balance was relatively good considering bad knees caused him to fall in the first place, and getting off all pain medication helped considerably with the psychosis. But we all knew that he just wasn’t the same as before. Statistics show that most elderly people do not survive complications of a broken hip. In fact most die within two years following a broken hip.

Daddy left the rehab wing with a walker and home healthcare and Nannie was under a tremendous weight of responsibility. As the only child, I was also feeling the squeeze. I pressed on toward the end of the semester thinking I could handle things so much better after my teaching schedule was relieved, the twins were born in late May or early June, and Daddy was more fully recovered. At that time Kak was back in DC at school, Muffin was working his usually 40 hours in 4 days so he could drive home for weekends on Thursday evening through Monday morning.

The next call from CB was in late March. Baby A was moving well, and growing, but way behind Baby B, Emme. Extreme measures were discussed. Things no parent should have to hear, and decisions no one should be presented. The choice was made to begin a series of cortisone injections, forcing Roo to grow rapidly and expand her lung capacity. CB could go into labor at any minute. The swelling she experienced was unmerciful, yet she taught school. A date was agreed upon, April 27, 2006, for a C section. I ran errands for my parents and did what I could do to help, taught my students, rearranged my recital to be in May from April 29 (scheduled early so I could be available for a May birth), and I prayed for excellent health and amazing strength for Miss Roo and Miss ME-Emme.

Muffin took a couple of days off, we booked a hotel near the hospital down south, and early on April 27 we were present for the birthing—a first for us. (Jbear was almost a year old, but we were in TX and he was born early in AZ. We saw him when he was one week old.) First premature births, first granddaughters, first twins, first babies under 7 pounds ( 2 lb. 8 oz and 3 lb. 5 oz.) first neonatal experience, first NICU vigil, first time to do all of this with my parents’ in such a fragile state. Every week from April 27 through August I was either on the road back and forth, or staying over and meeting Muffin down south, or going back and forth for someone’s doctor appointments, either pediatric or geriatric. Kak moved home for the summer and helped tremendously or none of that would have been humanly possible. Many all night vigils involving baby swings, ipod headphones, Boppy pillows, and Diet Coke ensued. At the end of August when Kak returned to school I rewarded myself with Lasik surgery for surviving. Then Muffin and I flew to Siesta Key for a few days.

The following months are a blur of teaching, travel to hospital/home/play weddings/hospital,etc, and Daddy's deteriorating health. The twins had an awesome birthday party at our house, I ended the year of teaching with a great recital, the symphony season was awesome, Joy and Mike’s wedding was beautiful and celebratory, but Daddy continued to have balance problems and forgot to use his walker to aid him. Nannie insisted that he showed signs of dementia, and although we could tell that he forgot some things, there was no consistent evidence. On June 13 I was teaching some students and received a call from Nannie that she had Dubbie at the doctor and shingles was the diagnosis. Only one day earlier the three of us visited the attorney who updated all legal documents and suggested some changes that would facilitate matters in the event of a medical crisis or death of one of my parents. Four days later, Father’s Day, we were back at the hospital with psychosis and broken bones. The shingles led to complications with the blood sugar, which fluctuated from 40-300 several times in 24 hours and he began to fall in disorientation. He fell five times in two days and sustained a broken pelvis. We would later find that he had several strokes as well. On June 20 he was moved into the nursing home and the roller coaster ride began, ending June 13, 2008.

Two years ago in August I had Lasik, which resulted in 20/15 vision. I can see much more clearly now. God has opened my eyes to His Kingdom in many ways. I see that over the past two years I traveled on the thin edge of the kingdom of this earth and the kingdom of heaven. Many days and nights in hospital rooms and cars and nursing homes and living rooms, late at night or very early in the morning I would sense that the kingdom of heaven had come to earth. Or that they were the same. Or that I, not others, had crossed over from one to another. I could hear the music, and it is beautiful in both places, but in the kingdom of heaven it always glorifies God and celebrates Him. Those kingdoms house a great cloud of witnesses!

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

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