Conversations with My Father – Part One

February 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

My father is a proud and stubborn man. Two years after his stroke, his recovery is amazing as he tries to get around without his cane. Had you seen him in his hospital bed, unable to speak with tears of frustration welling in his eyes, you would never recognize the courageous person who now stood before you.

I will never forget the moment that our entire world imploded. I didn’t receive the normal daily phone call that started when my father got sober 3 years prior. The phone would ring, I would answer and the other side of the receiver would be brimming with hope for the day ahead. Joining AA had given my father a new lease on life.

“Hey baby, just calling to say I love you.”

No matter how bad I had started my day, his voice would always cheer me. So to return the favor, I reached for my headset and called him instead to see how he was doing.

Do you know what it feels like to be helpless? To register that something horrible is happening and not being able to do a damn thing?

“Hi.”

“How are you?”

“Huh? Uhhh. Katy….Uhhh.”

“Dad? Are you alright? Dad?”

Fear suddenly struck within the deepest part of my soul.

“Uh, Katy. I… I… Oh.. God.” My father’s speech was now slurring as he lost his words one by one. I started to shake as I reached for my cell phone.

“Dad, stay with me. Don’t hang up. Keep talking to me, please.”

“Okay.”

I frantically dialed 911 on my cell phone and called the paramedics. 

“911, what’s your emergency.”

“My father is having a stroke….”

He hadn’t told me. There was no one there to diagnose. I just knew and I could do nothing. For what was an agonizing three minutes, my father slipped further inside the recesses of his mind as I listened 30 miles away. I remember trying so desperately to keep from breaking down as I tried to make him talk, each word more difficult than the last for both of us.

I drove to the hospital sobbing.

 Had I lost him? Was I too late? Should I have waited so long to call him? 

 I waddled to the nurse’s station 9 months pregnant with my third child, frantic and full of apprehension. The kind nurse ushered me slowly to where they were keeping him. I remember seeing his pale features surrounded by the usual assortment of wires and tubes. The simple hospital gown. The hopeless and yet strangely efficient emergency room.

Children are never supposed to see their parents afraid, but as I looked at him, his usual bright eyes were now wide with terror. His vocabulary had been reduced to emotional cusses and stutters.

“Your father has had a massive stroke. We believe he is suffering from ‘Expressive Aphasia.’ As the doctor in the worn green ER scrubs continued to divulge the results of the test, I couldn’t help but look to my father and wonder if he understood what was going on.

He seemed to be with me, but unable to say anything. I grabbed his hand and squeezed.

“It’s going to be alright. I promise. I love you, Dad.”

I was the parent at that moment, as I leaned down and kissed him lightly on his sweaty forehead.

My father closed his eyes as the tears ran down his cheeks and the heart monitor kept a steady reassuring pace. 

To Be Continued…

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Entry filed under: Writing Samples.

Month in space pictures… “Dude, I’m ‘The Todd!'”

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