My mother rarely gets sick, but two weeks ago, in a fit of overachievement, she managed to get both Strep Throat and the Flu. Impressive, I know. This sent my sisters and I into a flurry of activity. My middle sister went first because she’s the closest and was thus exposed to the brunt of the germs, but due to a Herculean effort of cleaning, managed not to get sick. She ended up at the hospital with my mother after calling an ambulance. It was a nightmare. She was followed by my oldest sister who spent a week cooking meals and doing laundry and essentially catering to every whim. While she was there, my father developed pneumonia from a cold he’d had earlier in the week. She took them to a lot of doctor visits, including a hour long drive to Duke University Hospital. My middle sister came back for the trip to Duke and I drove down to stay with my mother while they took my father, and then I stuck around for the next five days.
The first day I arrived, I had to take their dog to the vet. She had pancreatitis. I started to feel like I was in that episode of M.A.S.H. when Klinger wants to get leave and shows Colonel Blake a letter that says his grandmother is dying and his sister is pregnant. Colonel Blake goes into a file of other letters and begins reading out all the people in Klinger’s family who were dying or pregnant. He eventually comes to one that says half of Klinger’s family is dying and the other half is pregnant. That’s how I felt last week.
My oldest sister left after the Duke visit. Then my middle sister left a couple of days later. I stayed a few more days and did a lot of laundry. I cooked. I cleaned. I knew my parents were feeling better when they began to politely hint that I should go home. They put it in terms of me having to get back to my own life and my husband needing me, but what they were essentially saying was “we love you, please get out of our house, so things can get back to normal.” Concerned that I was interpreting their comments in a way that benefited me, I checked with my sisters. They agreed that I could leave provided my father’s trip to the cardiologist went well and that my mother would be checked to make sure she hadn’t developed pneumonia. They were both cleared and so I headed home via my middle sister’s house, where we drank beer, ate a pizza, and stared at the TV. Long fortnight, my friends, and yet, there was comfort in knowing that in a crisis, we don’t fall apart (much), and we don’t fight (much), we come together and get it done.
*Image made by Dream Designs courtesy of Free Digital Photos.