I wasn’t planning on going out of town for Christmas. I was going to use that alone time at home to get caught up on some extremely early spring cleaning (or as I call it a winter wipe up). But the powers that be apparently had other plans for me. The morning of Dec. 18, my phone rang. It was my brother calling from Chattanooga. Before even picking up the phone I knew it had to be one of two things. Either he was calling to brag about getting another raise from his job or something happened to mom or dad.
Unfortunately it was the latter issue that prompted the call. My dad, who everyone calls Paco (except for me I call him dad), had fallen. Normally not a big deal but it is when you’re 91 years young.
“Hey dad fell, so mom went out running in the middle of the neighborhood yelling for help…I’m here now…the ambulance is here and they are taking him to the hospital…Mom and I are going to follow…I’ll keep you posted,” my brother said.
“How did he fall?” I asked. “Why was mom running in the street? Why didn’t she call 911?”
I had a litany of questions but my brother quickly hung up.
I sat at my work desk waiting. Not knowing if dad was conscious or awake when they took him. Wondering how or where he had fallen. Wondering what hospital they were taking him to. Wondering if he had a head injury and wondering why the heck mom was running in the street.
“I don’t know I guess she panicked and thought I was home,” my brother responded when he finally called me to give me an update. “I wasn’t home but the neighbors helped her and called 911 and then called me.”
It turned out dad cut his elbows pretty bad but worse, he had fractured his hip. By the next day he was in surgery and now he is on the slow road to recovery. He needs to be a bit more stable on his feet before they’ll let him go home, so Christmas means dinner with dad and mom at the hospital.
And I’m not complaining. Things could be much worse. I feel blessed to have both my parents right now. Both are nonagenarian (fancy word for in their 90s). I know I won’t have them forever but for now I am grateful for the time I am able to spend with them.
I also feel fortunate knowing that my brother is there (he literally lives right across the street from them) and handling their care right now.
But, I’m typically the caregiver of the two so right now he is like a fish out of water.
“I had to help mom put her socks on,” my brother said. “I didn’t realize she couldn’t do that on her own anymore.”
“Normally dad helps her,” I replied. “Or when I’m there I do it and massage her feet at times to alleviate the arthritis. Also while you’re at mom’s house you’ll need to place her medications on the counter-top so she can reach them.
“Where are they?” he asked.
“Left cabinet, top shelf,” I replied.
“Why the hell are they way up there…she can’t reach them up there. Who the heck put them up there?”
“Well normally dad gets her meds ready every day or I do when I’m up there. Oh and you’ll have to carry her dinner plate to the table because the arthritis in her hands doesn’t allow her to get a firm grip. Dad and I usually serve up her plate and place it on the table.”
“Are you for real? Jeepers they are getting older,” he said. “I’m not sure I was ready for this. When the heck you driving up.”
I laughed for a minute. I don’t think anyone really prepares for this. It just creeps up on you and happens.
Life really does come full circle. You reach the point where you find yourself being the caretaker for the people who have always taken care of you.
My dad is going to need some caregiving now too. He was used to being mom’s provider. Driving her to her doctor appointments, getting the groceries and doing the errands around the house.
“I’ll be up there tomorrow,” I said much to my brother’s relief.
There is a lot of planning ahead for my brother and I as we navigate this next phase of our reality. But for the moment I grateful for them having yet another day.