Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wake-up call

Most of us get so wrapped up in our own lives and so busy that weeks pass before we see friends and loved ones. We often put off till tomorrow what should be done today, and in our busy-ness we often take things in life for granted, including those friends and relatives who are near and dear to our hearts.

I am guilty of not visiting my parents enough. We take for granted that our parents are always going to be there and we don't like to even think about the idea that someday they won't be here...or in reverse it could be us that is no longer here. Time is precious, and our family is precious, and my family and I just got a wake-up call of just how precious time here in this life is and that we should make a greater effort for those we love and not to take anything for granted.

I was watching the end of a movie Sunday evening and I heard my cell phone ring in another room and heard it was my mom and dad's "music" playing (I have my phone set to play different music for different people so I know who is calling me) , and figured I would call mom back after it was done. I figured if it was an emergency she would leave a message. She tried to call me twice and I did not answer. I feel so bad about that now, and am so regretful that I put a movie ending before picking up the phone. I realize now that in an emergency situation, the person who is going through the emergency is not going to leave a message and waste precious time when they need to get ahold of a live person. She was calling to tell me that my father, who will be 79 this year, was being taken via ambulance to the hospital emergency room because he was having chest pains. She needed me and I didn't pick up because I took for granted that she was calling to chit chat.

I listened to my mother's message after the movie was over and her voice said "Deb, are you there?" and while I was waiting to hear the second message my sister beeped in and said that Mom was trying to get ahold of us. She also didn't answer her phone right away. (Aren't we awful?) When she told me they were taking Dad to the ER, we didn't know yet what hospital or what was going on. Our brother, who lives near our parents, went to my parents' place and picked up mom to take her to the ER. After finally finding out which hospital they took him to, my sister then went over there and I waited here for word since I live almost an hour away. When they finally called and said that the doctors thought it was a heart attack, and that they had him comfortable and stable and were going to do an angiogram the next day, I packed my bags and went to stay overnight with my mother at her place. My sister went there, too and spent the night. None of us slept. Early the next morning, we went to the hospital and my dad looked tired, and didn't look too comfortable in that hospital bed. But it was reassuring to see him and to talk to him, and despite everything he was going through he was in good spirits.(But extremely nervous about the upcoming angiogram.)

While wating to find out when they were going to take dad for his angiogram, I called my three kids to tell them what was happening with their grandpa, and they all were quite stunned. They see my parents off and on throughout the year, but they could go see them more often than they do if they would just make the effort. My daughter lives out on the east coast and has been home for visits where she is just too busy to fit in a visit to grandma and grandpa. I think she just thought they would always be here for whenever she is ready to visit them on one of her home trips. She was quite upset with herself for not making the time to see them when she was in town. Whenever she was home and I suggested that she should go visit grandma and grandpa, she said "next time"...well, this was a wake-up call for all of us that there very well could be no more "next times" and once a person is gone, there is no turning back the clock, no second chances to make up for things we missed out on.

It turns out that my father did had a mild heart attack due to a 95% blockage in an artery in the heart. This is only the second time I have seen him in a serious situation with his health. The other time was when he had an emergency colostomy due to a ruptured colon. Seeing him laying there in bed once again was upsetting. We didn't know what caused the heart attack/chest pain and were waiting, waiting, waiting for them to take him to do an angiogram to show what was causing his problems and what needed to be done to fix it. Turns out they did the angiogram and found a blockage, put in a stint and he is recovering. He was so cute when we got to see him afterwards. The first thing he said to us was "they fixed it!" Hopefully, he will be going home this evening.

Whenever my mom or dad call my phone in the future, I will answer it and don't care what I am doing. If they just want to talk, and I am in the middle of something I can say I will call them back. But I must assume first of all now that they might need me. As for visiting...never, never take loved ones for granted. You just never know.

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