Saturday, January 23, 2010

January and All is Gray with the World

An unexpected phone call has the force to shake our little planets. The phone rang on New Year's morning. On the other end of the line was my Mom in Kentucky requesting my immediate presence. My father has been rushed to the Hospital with chest pains and tingling in his arms. The doctor's finding: blockage in his arteries (probably a result of 83 plus years of fried bacon, fried eggs, fried chicken and fried whatever "southern style." He required open heart surgery. Around midnight of that same day, I stood in baggage claim at the Lexington Airport, waiting for my bags and my youngest brother to pick me up.

Until my grandparents all passed away, I believed myself surrounded by two defensive walls made up of my parents and their parents. With the loss of the grandparents, one barrier collapsed into dust leaving only one wall standing. The thought of losing my parents means that one more barrier will have fallen leaving me standing alone before my ultimate end.

This kind of thinking, obviously, can sound pretty morbid. But, I look at it, as more sobering than anything else. Youth inspires the confidence to tackle anything believing oneself invulnerable to pain or death. While middle age makes you value life even more, knowing full well that at some point every book has a conclusion, no matter how much you may want to stall the ending.

Three weeks has now passed, Dad survived his operation and now is home recovering. My father is not a patient man. He's the kind of man who plunges three stories down a cliff, brushes himself off and starts climbing again. But you don't endure having your chest cut open and your heart pulled out, and expect to ride a motorcycle the next day.

On Monday, I fly back to New York City. Thankfully, I leave knowing that my father health will improve over the next weeks, and that he will probably have a much better summer this year than the one he experienced last year. Regretfully, I leave knowing my mother will have the full responsibility of caring for my Dad, a traditional man of a generation of Men that expected certain things from their wives. My father still expects that my mother will prepared three meals a day for him, and that means three meals daily that he enjoys, because it is no joy for my mother to prepare food for someone who doesn't believe each bite they swallow is the best bite he's ever enjoyed.

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