Monday, November 23, 2009

Boston Bound

AKA Landing: I found the dentist’s appointment card while rummaging through my pocketbook on October 29th. I was cleaning it out in preparation for my trip to Boston to visit my father in the hospital. The card said my next cleaning would be March 20. Isn’t that my dad’s birthday? The first day of spring? Will he still be here then? I wondered as my heart sank.

Everything was moving too fast. Even the sun moves across the sky fast this time of year, making the hours in a day short, and the pace of my trip preparation frantic. But I didn’t mind. I was trying to hold onto every last bit of normalcy. I felt safe in the daily routines of my life, even if packing added some extra work. I worried about what I would find in Boston and knew that once my plane landed there that my life might never be the same. The hospital staff had told my family that my father needed surgery to repair a broken neck vertebra, which he sustained in a recent car accident. At that point, a ventilator was breathing for him, and he was being tube fed. We were beginning to fear a worse case scenario and were gravely concerned about him undergoing surgery at his age (81) and in his condition.

On my last day home, one of the last things on my to-do list was to plant the 8 daffodil bulbs that I had recently bought at the Garden Center. Last year, I planted tulips and held a few aside, hoping to plant them the following year, once I had a better idea of where I wanted them. But when this year came along and I opened the brown bag of tulips bulbs, I found that they had crumbled to dust. I didn’t know how long I’d be in Boston. The ground might be frozen by the time I get home. I might really need to be cheered up this spring, I thought while digging in the garden.

Everything I did on that last day had a sense of intention and permanence to it. I learned when I lost my brothers, Jim and Dan, 4 years ago that the last few weeks of someone’s life might as well be set in stone because those are the memories you will play in your mind, over and over. Will my dad still be here when these daffodils bloom was all I could think of as I buried them.

If he wasn’t, I knew that daffodils wouldn't be enough to cheer me up.

The Good News Update: My dad was transferred from the regional hospital he was in to the New England Medical Center, where, according to their reassessment of his condition, it was determined that he would not be operated on. When I saw him Saturday, he was breathing on his own, and we were all feeling more encouraged and hopeful for his eventual recovery.

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