Every once in a while, I get an emergency call from my aged father. It can come anytime and thankfully, so far, it does not happen all that often. So far. Usually, the plea is to come immediately because he has encountered something from the outside world that has completely boggled his mind. It could be a total lapse in memory of how to write a check or something more complex, as it was this very morning after he forgot to go for annual blood work and rushed off to the doctor's office only to be handed a rather ornate "kit" for collecting a stool sample. So, I jumped into my shower, dressed, and drove over to his house, knowing that he would be in one very twisted state, which of course, he was indeed. The paperwork was confounding, never mind the directions to collect samples. I dismissed it all in a nanno-second, put my nurse cap back on, and told him that he wasn't going to do "that". That people who are almost 93 don't have to worry about detecting blood in their bowel. What would he do with the information anyway?
As I drove over, I turned down a street that does not lead directly to his home. There are three streets to choose from and I try to alternate my route, if only for the change of scenery before entering the dull and draining hermitage of my father's. And, as I drove this particular way today, I recalled a scene that is burned into my memory forever. It was the route that my parents took when my mom returned from having been brutally discharged from a care facility during the final months of her life. As I glanced out the window of their home, I caught sight of their car approaching, my mother, the passenger. She had a look on her face that reflected the sheer terror that she was experiencing. She knew the gravity of her illness and her rapid decline into total disability and she was dreading not only what was ahead in her home, but the impossible feat of getting out of the car and into that house.
What she did not know was that during her absence, her home was quietly converted into a safer place, one that now had grab bars and tub seats and a wheelchair. Home health aids were lined up and we were prepared to allow her and my father to feel somewhat independent and to enjoy an easier and less stressful time. It took a lot of work and a lot of fortitude because we had so many roadblocks to overcome. My father's resistance was palpable. He was in denial and confused and just as in a textbook, he took chose the default emotion, anger, coupled with rage that scared me to the point of reporting my fears for my safety to the Hospice nurses. But, it got done. Never once, was the simple phrase, "thank you" uttered by either one of them. If anything, I was mocked for my un-wavering adherence to details, made fun of for being "organized" and belittled for "taking charge". But never thanked.
So, this little trip in to rescue my father brought back that memory, two years later and still fresh as dew. As I drove down the street, I thought of a scene from just last week. In conversation with the mother of a friend, she told me in so many words, how she was proud of her daughter, that she thought something she recently did was a very good move. I immediately told my friend what her mother had reported and she hugged me in response and thanked me for telling her that. She was surprised and happy but she wondered out loud why her mom had not told her this herself. I don't know the answer nor do I know why my own parents never told me if they were proud or grateful. Is it something of their generation? Why?
I just need to go on record here. I have two children, both of whom I am very, very proud. I am eternally grateful for everything they do for me and for others. I love them and their spouses, two of God's other greatest gifts. I only hope that they will never, ever have to hear that from someone other than myself. If you haven't thanked someone lately, it is not too late. If you haven't taken an inventory of all the great stuff you have in your life because of someone else, take the time and do it. It feels good and who knows, maybe exercises like that will keep our brains alive and well because life isn't really that short.
P.S. Only Katie Patricia will know what the title means. Sorry everyone else.