This is the way I remember it:
Tom and I were driving down the highway, headed to Houston's Methodist Hospital for the first time, because Daddy was about to have surgery for an abdominal aneurism. I was pregnant with my first baby and worried about Daddy. I was praying, praying, praying...
...and then I was crying, crying, crying, because Bread's Everything I Own came on the radio. I was afraid my baby would never know its grandfather. I was afraid I wouldn't have my Daddy to hug and laugh with anymore.
"Is there someone you know,
you're loving them so,
but taking them all for granted.
You may lose them one day,
someone takes them away,
and they don't hear the words you long to say."
I was afraid.
But Daddy made it through that surgery, hallelujah, and the next and the next and the next... you name a surgery on the body's cardiovascular system and he's had it at least once, with a few strokes and seizures in between. I've lost count.
He always bounces back, strong and vigorous, and except for all of the scars, you'd never know he's had so much go wrong inside.
This latest was his fourth carotid artery surgery - he's had two on each side. I wonder if that's a record?
His mini-stroke on his birthday weekend was from a slight blockage in the left carotid, but in the follow-up arteriogram this past Tuesday, the doctors saw that his right carotid was about 95% blocked and required immediate surgery. The left one could wait.
During the actual surgery they discovered it was closer to 98% blocked, plus the old graft had weakened and an aneurism had developed. A ticking time bomb in my Daddy's neck.
I'm happy to report the doctors were able to diffuse the bomb. Daddy made it through yet another surgery, just fine, this past Thursday. I spent several days there, taking over his role as my mom's caregiver, making sure she was able to be at his side every day.
I tell you, there's nothing sweeter than helping your mom stand up to give your dad a kiss in his hospital bed, seeing the love shining in their eyes as they lean in for that touch and to say 'I love you' one more time.
I'll be headed back again to Houston this evening, after a big photography job my sweet friend Darla got for me. I also needed to come home to do laundry (I only went prepared for two nights), pay bills, and check on my baby girl who came down with pneumonia this week.
There were a few stressful, tearful, hurt and even angry hours when plans I thought I had in place for when I was gone crumbled. But I should have remembered the message on the penny in my pocket: "In God We Trust". Everything worked out, thanks to my sister, my niece, my parents' neighbors, and my son.
Yes, that same little boy who grew inside of me on my first trip to Methodist hospital, who perhaps sensed my tears and worry, not only got to spend lots of time with my mom and dad, but he headed down a highway himself yesterday from Austin to be there for his grandparents and ease my mind.
Life is full of sweet blessings.
Here are a few others I noticed over the past week.
Monday: managing to miss the traffic jams in both Austin and Houston; arriving at your parents' house, safe and sound
Tuesday: helping your mom and dad; meeting interesting, kind people in the hospital; prayers from your friends; sleeping with your mom
Wednesday: helpful, caring people; laughter in a hospital; nurses
Thursday: watching your parents kiss before your dad heads into surgery; eating omelettes with your mom after a long night sleeping in a chair; gospel singers serenading the ICU waiting room; a familiar, friendly face sitting beside you, lending support; your dad making it through surgery just fine; your baby girl who has pneumonia finally getting in to see a doctor and getting a prescription
Friday: seeing your dad sitting up in a chair beside his ICU bed, eating soup, and then getting released to a regular room; people who step in to help care for your parents when you have to leave, who understand caring for loved ones is a privelege and blessing, not a burden; a cup of hot coffee on a cold, late night drive
Saturday: your metal roof bathed in moonlight and a wiggly puppy greeting you on the rock path leading to your front door after too many stressful days away; snuggling into the warmth of your sleeping husband; knowing your mom and dad are okay even though you aren't there taking care of them; your son stepping in to help care for his grandparents; your zoom lens back on your camera, good as new; bringing groceries to your sick baby girl and seeing with your own eyes that she's okay; reassurance from a nurse friend that your dad's hallucinations are normal after surgery; cyclops cookies, courtesy of your husband and middle son
Sunday: crisp, clean autumn mornings; attending Mass with your husband and son; your whole church praying for your dad
Thanks so much to all of you who lifted my Daddy in prayer this past week. Please continue to think of him and my mom as we deal with the next fews days and the transition back home. Also, please keep my baby girl in your prayers that she heals up from this bout of pneumonia.
I hope that even if you're going through tough, stressful times, you're still able to notice the sweet!s all around you. They're there, I promise.