Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Call

My father hugs me on my wedding day.
Twenty-five years ago, the phone rang. It was one of my four brothers, calling to let me know that my father had suffered a major heart attack and had not regained consciousness. He never did. Five days later, they removed the ventilator that kept him breathing; he died shortly thereafter.

Over the past year or so, I've noted that my mother and her siblings and peers have entered that "end of life" stage: prolonged hospitalizations for "minor" ailments like a broken bone, dementia, cancer. Some are in long-term care facilities; others are cared for by a rota of their children and loved ones.

Last night, I got a group Facebook message saying that my mother, who had not been feeling well, was at the hospital with congestive heart failure. An EKG shows that she had recently suffered a heart attack.

For the next few hours, as updates trickled in, I debated whether I should drive the seven hours to be with my family. In the end, I was assured "not yet."

My mother with her husband, in 2013.
My mother is now 87 years old and has been in her second marriage for twenty years. The two of them are growing old together.

Mom battled colon cancer, and beat it, but never really regained her strength. About eight years ago, my younger sister, Christine, bought a house along with my mother and her husband. My sister lives on the lower level; my mother upstairs.

It has worked well for Mom. Christine and her family pitched in on maintenance and other heavy work. When Mom and her husband both lost their drivers' licenses, Christine or her husband, Robert, provided taxi service.

And although Mom is weak, dependent on a walker to get around, her husband has been happy to fetch and tend (to the extent that he is able; he also is in his late 80's). Lately, Mom has been staying in one spot most of the day. With the bitterly cold winter, she was housebound.

Until this health crisis, they have never had any in-home services or care, but it seems that some housekeeping and perhaps some occupational therapy are in order. The care she needs is clearly greater than Christine (with her full-time job and family) should be expected to handle on her own.

If you are the praying sort, please pray for comfort for my mother, for peace for her husband, and for respite for my sister.

All in all, it's another reminder that, some day, there will be another call. Not looking forward to that.


  1. Heartfelt prayers from me to you and your good family Wynn Anne, starting now. Bless you all. Jim Sterling.

  2. Will keep your mom and your family in my prayers. My own dad, who is in his late 70s just had surgery today on a blocked artery in his neck. it went well. but last month it was hip surgery! It's a new phase for all of us. but I am so grateful that so far everything has gone very very well and he is recovering nicely. but I worry now too.

    1. We're the "sandwich generation," for sure. Will pray for your father and your family.


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