Yesterday I got one of those phone calls that when you answer it, you at first don’t think anything is wrong.
It was a gorgeous day out, Diva had played an 8 AM soccer game, and she and I were in the garage tossing old shoes, putting stuff in a pile for “Old Will” and the “Hoboes” and then the phone rang.
It was my brother.
“Hey Boomer!” That’s this nickname. His real name is Scott but my Nana used to call him Scotty Scotty Boom Boom Lotty when he was like one, so then he just turned into Boomer.
He must have said something like, “Hey Steph.”
Then nothing. Silence.
I immediately went into fight or flight action, with adrenaline pumping, knowing something was wrong. My brother can sometimes get into a little bit of trouble, like the time he got arrested the night before my other brother got married.
I remember thinking, “Oh God, his wife is leaving him.” Then I thought something was wrong with his two little babies. I was in the garage and there was nowhere to sit, and I knew I needed to sit for this, and Diva knew something was wrong even though I don’t think I was talking yet, but I must have been. I must have been saying, “Boomer, just tell me. It’s OK, just tell me already.”
And he was crying, I know that. My brother was crying and he said, “Hold on a minute, let me collect myself.” And then he must have assured me that everything was OK, that everything was OK now, but then the word Dad came out of his mouth and I had to sit because he was talking about my Daddy, and that something had happened to my Daddy, and my brother is on the other end of the phone in Virginia crying about it and this cannot be good, and I missed a phone call from my Dad last night and he sounded fine, and I’m sure I saved the voice mail because that’s one of my OCD superstitions because that’s what I do with my parent’s voice mails and my husband’s voice mails. I save them. All of them. Until I see them again and know it’s safe to delete them.
So finally, my brother gets it out and this is the story. My Dad (and I feel like I have to capitalize the D in Dad for some reason) was having some pain and went in Friday for a CT scan and they were going to do a routine appendix removal on Saturday morning and that’s why he called Friday night all chipper to tell me but cuz I didn’t answer, he didn’t tell me so I had no idea my Dad was even going in for surgery.
Then when he and my Mom went to the hospital for what they thought was a half-hour deal, then he didn’t come out of surgery and my mom was in the waiting room all by herself and he wasn’t coming out so, and this part kills me too, she’s all by herself wondering what’s happening, and later she tells me it was like a soap opera and when the doctor finally came out she could see him through the doors and she knew that it hadn’t just been a routine appendicitis.
But I think I’m making it sound like it’s worse than it was and I don’t think it is but still, I don’t know. There was a mass that was the size of his fist, but they say it was benign, but who really knows until the tests come back? And he’s in the hospital for six days, and when my brother called me, both of our immediate reactions were, “We have to go there.” And “What about Mom?” Our other brother, thank God, is in Orlando (my parents are in Tampa), and my sister, is in Connecticut, and it just feels so helpless to be here and not there, to worry about your parents, to wake up and think of your father lying in a hospital bed with all that shit hooked up to him when he’s always so lively and jokey and, I mean, if you know my Dad and my Mom, then you just know, they are like the youngest 60-somethings you could ever meet. They act younger than I do.
And my brother told me he spoke to the doctor and the doctor told him that our mother was a wreck, and that killed us more than anything, to know that our Mommy is there and we’re not there to take care of her. That I can do nothing but sit here and run all this shit in my head and not do a damn thing.
And I know this is majorly personal stuff, and maybe too much, but this is how I need to deal with it. This is how I deal with it. I need to write about it to get it out. And I need to cry. A freaking ton. I cried so much yesterday. And I really think he is OK. And he’s going to be OK. Everyone has assured me. My Mom seems OK too. Yesterday I was talking to her on the phone when she was in Dad’s room and she told me he would be sleeping all day and he’s on morphine but he’s OK and she said he just gave the thumbs-up sign and I said, “Put the phone by his ear!” She did, and I said, “I love you Daddy! I love you so much!”
And he said, “Mm mmm mmm mmm” which TOTALLY meant I love you too in morphine speak, which made me laugh and then feel happy. But still, every time I think about any part of this, I cry. Like right now. And this morning when I woke up, I went for a walk at 7:30 and I had my iPod on and I took a bike path past the dog park and it is a gorgeous, gorgeous day, and it was quiet and there are puffy white clouds dotting the blue sky and everything is in bloom and it’s crispy cool, and I let myself just bawl my head off as I walked, and it felt so damn good to just let it out and cry. I just had to. And I cry in front of the kids. Diva says, “Don’t cry mom. Are you gonna cry?" Luke just sits there while I cry. Later I said to Luke, “Does it bother you that I cried so much today?” He said no. I said, “Good, because I’m going to cry, because sometimes I just need to and it makes me feel better to cry, OK?” Because we are a show-your-emotions-talk-about-your-feelings family.
And I think about AJ’s friend Michael and his parents and what they’re going through. I am this much of a basket-case over my Dad, and this is the natural progression of life. How are THEY handling this backwardness of their son being sick? I can’t fathom the strength that is getting them through each day of their struggles.
My youngest brother, Seth, and his wife drove immediately from Orlando to Tampa to be with my Mom and Dad, and Seth slept at the hospital with Daddy. I am so thankful they are there to assure us other kids that everything is OK. I want to call every 10 minutes to check in. On my walk this morning, I thought to myself, I don’t care if Dad comes to my house and blasts CNBC on the TV. I don’t care if he wears his shoes on the carpet. I will buy him as much ham and swiss cheese as he needs. He can leave the TV on and walk out of the room and I won’t bitch about it.
Then I thought about all the times he took care of us when we were little. How he always brags about how we were such good little swimmers. How he would make our fevers go away when we spiked ‘em as little kids. How he coached us to play softball. I’m 39 years old. I’m his Pooker Pie. And I’m so not ready to give that up.
I talked to my Mom this morning. She said she slept good last night. She went home last night while my brother Seth stayed at the hospital. She said that in the middle of the night last night at a moment when my Dad was coherent, he asked my brother, “How’s Mommy?”
That’s the part that tears me up inside. He’s worried about her more than anything in the entire world. Forty-two years of marriage will do that to a man.