Big Shoes to Fill

This past weekend my family went on a camping trip.  I intended to write about what a great time we had, but that didn’t happen, exactly.  It seems like one thing went wrong after another.  The big thing, however, was that my mother fell down a hill.

She was going to the bathroom Saturday morning and tripped and fell, and broke her ankle in three places.  She was taken to a nearby hospital then transported back to Buffalo and is now at Erie County Medical Center, where she had surgery yesterday to fix her ankle as it would not stay in place with traditional methods.  Dad tells me she is fine, though I wasn’t able to see her afterwards despite spending the entire day at the hospital. 

The next three days will be rough.  My father is receiving radiation treatment and will literally be radioactive while my mother is in rehab for her ankle.  My sister has to work so I am in charge of taking care of my parents, something I haven’t ever really had to do.  It strikes me that this is likely how life will go from now on, as they are both in their 60s and have health issues.  It also strikes me that I am not ready.

When my grandmother died, I froze my parents.  The running joke is that my mother is 35 and my father is 40, the ages they were when she passed.  Of course, I’m not a child anymore and I understand the aging process, but I do still picture them at those ages, when I was a kid and they were able to do everything that I wanted.  Now I see that some things are harder for them, and it breaks my heart.  I have an amazing relationship with my parents, better than most people I know, and I would do anything for them.  I think of my grandparents on dad’s side, both alive and kicking in their late 80s, and I suppose I figured the failing health was at least another few years off.  Alas, no. 

I have my own health issues, so taking care of other people when they are sick has not been something I have done a lot.  Usually it’s the other way around-me having a gastro or panic attack and my parents taking care of me.  That’s what I know.  Now, things are changing, and as scared as I am, I also feel like I can handle it, despite my own failings.  As I said I would do anything for my parents, because they have done everything for me.  Still, I remain worried, and scared, and unsure of what to do.  I will just have to roll with the punches, and take care of them the way that they have taken care of me. 

Today I saw mom, which made me feel a lot better.  I took dad to his doctor appointment.  Next I have to run errands then return to the hospital with mom’s insulin pump supplies.  I feel good, so I was able to do these things without too much stress.  Still, I worry that I won’t be well-that I will get sick at some point over the next few days, or that I will have some massive panic attack over all of this.  I have Mark of course to help me deal, but still I worry.

I suppose that when it comes to one’s parents, you’re never ready to see them sick.  You’re never ready to consider that they have truly aged, no longer the people you knew in your youth that seemed so vibrant and invincible.  I don’t think there’s really a way to prepare yourself for that, so instead you have to treasure your moments and do your best to deal with what gets thrown your way.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself today.

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