As I'd written a few weeks ago, Jim isn't doing well. Our sweet, wonderful, perpetually happy Jimbo has really been struggling and my mom is really struggling watching Jim's health decline. Being the fixer that I am, I want to fix the problem. But I can't ... because there are few things that we humans can control and the steady progression of time isn't one of them.
Earlier this month, Charlie's Dad, Alex was put in the hospital with what was initially thought to be a stroke or heart attack. It was neither and he's home now. The prognosis is good, although we're still feeling shaken at the situation and our vulnerability to control anything. (Refer to paragraph, above.)
It wasn't very long ago that I wrote a post about my Dad. Earlier this month, he too, was put in the hospital. He's since been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, an ulcer, and and an assortment of ailments I don't fully comprehend. At this moment, he's in a nursing home regaining his strength so that he can move back to his retirement community.
As we were saying our prayers the other night the children asked me, "Mom, WHAT is going on with our grandfathers?" It's not easy for my little ones to comprehend that time is going on and as people grow older, their bodies don't work the same way they did when they were younger.
Last week, my sister Janet wrote me a note that Dad missed me and wanted to talk. While I talk to my mom several times a week, I honestly couldn't remember the last time that I had spoken with my dad? I'm ashamed to admit that whenever I'd call he'd be sleeping or out of his room, or wouldn't feel up to talking so our conversations would last for less than two minutes. Ultimately, I didn't feel like he wanted to talk with me, so I didn't want to bother him. So my Dad's message, via my sister who is on the ground in Massachusetts and visits my father frequently, cut me. Why hadn't I called? Why hadn't I written? Why haven't I made a quick weekend trip to visit?
I called Dad and while I was on hold as the dispatcher transferred me to his room, I listened to an advertisement about the state of the art facility where my dad is staying. They bathe the patients and dress them and feed them and have all kinds of support depending upon the level of ambulatory care required. And something, guilt - years that have flown past - regret over divorce and family feuds - whatever it was ... hit me like a damn tidal wave. By the time Dad's nurse handed him the phone I was a mess, an awful mess.
I'm so sorry I haven't called you, Dad. I ... I ... I'm not even going to give you any excuses because none of them are any good.
My Dad is in his raspy voice responded, "It's OK Jenny. I'm so sorry. It's my fault. I should have called you. When I'm feeling better, I'm going to see if someone can drive me down to Virginia. I want to come see you..."
So I cried and Dad, undoubtedly feeling that he needed to reassure me because that's what a parent does... regardless of how involved in your life they may or may not have been, I'm convinced they're still wired on some primitive level to do something if they see their child hurt ... stayed on the line with me for twenty-five minutes. Which is cumulatively, longer than we've spoken in a year. Granted, he didn't talk much, but he listened to me drone on about birthday parties and home improvements and the stock market and the upcoming election and the weather. And he's called me again, several times this week, to check in. My father, who hasn't called me in months (years?) and is unable to dress himself, has been calling to check in on me.