Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mom in the hospital

I had just come home from shopping for a birthday gift for my niece when my husband met me in front of the house and said, "The party is canceled. Your mother is in the hospital."

That was on Saturday. Days later, I still haven't caught my breath.

My two brothers and sister had beaten me to the emergency room. X-rays. CAT scan. Diagnosis: ulcer had perforated her duodenum and the contents spilled into her abdominal cavity. Without surgery to clean her out and sew up the hole, she would die of infection.

Prep for operation. Saying good-bye – just in case. Waiting. Praying. Driving home to check on Dad. Waiting some more. Returning to the hospital. Waiting…

Mom made it through surgery and is recovering well, though she's in a lot of pain and sometimes confused due to the medications. But it's Dad who's put a wrench in my already overbooked life. He's 89 and can barely walk, and then only with a walker. He goes from bed to easy chair, where he sits all day watching TV, dozing, doing sudoku, dozing, cruising the Internet on his laptop, dozing some more… Then at the end of the day, he shuffles back to his bed. He needs someone to prepare his meals and place them in front of his easy chair, so my siblings and I divided up the days. I get to prepare the lunches and wash the dishes from the previous meal.

I won't get into details, but it's not been easy. My dad's personality is the opposite of pleasant. Each of us dread our shift. I know it's un-Christian, and I go to the ends of the earth to serve others, but I have a hard time serving my own father. I know this, yet I cringe each time I go over there. Years of putdowns and criticism never go away. I'm an adult – been an adult for decades! – and could easily push his frail body over, yet I still fear him. I'd rather serve a stranger. It's his tongue.

…no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8)

In fact, over the weekend, my brothers, sister and I reminisced about his insults over the years. How sad. Unfortunately, that's how we'll always remember him. For his tongue.

We can't wait for Mom to get back home, but even when she does, she herself will need care! All of us work, and I work full-time AND homeschool three kids.


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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)