Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Parents Are Getting Old

It has now really sunk in that my parents are getting older. Actually, we all are, but the reality that they won't be around forever really smacked me in the face recently.

My dad had what was first thought to be a mini-stroke about 2 weeks ago. When I spoke to my mom, she sort of brushed off the significance of this "event" by saying that he was fine. When I got a call from my aunt later that night, I started to panic. As it turns out, my dad wasn't really "fine." He had been acting a little weird, and my aunt wanted me to come home and make my own personal assessment of the situation. (And since my aunt was a nurse for 40 years, I thought I should heed her advice.)

So last weekend I went home. And my dad seemed okay, but not great. He slept a lot while I was there, and didn't have much to say. Of course, this isn't really all that unusual for him. There was definitely something off, but I can't really define it. When my 7 month old cousin, Aidan, fell over and hit his head right in front of my dad, my dad didn't seem to register what had happened even though Aidan was screaming his head off. Nothing. His facial expression didn't change, he didn't make a move to help, nothing. Even though he was the only one in the room at the time. That scares me. Now, my dad isn't exactly a huge fan of babies, in fact I think he is a bit frightened of them, but I just don't understand why there was no response.

To make matters worse, when he went back to the doctor, they told him there was no sign that he had actually had a stroke. So what the hell does that mean? What really happened to him? At first I thought that maybe he'd had a panic attack, but he insists that wasn't what it was. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the doctor says. For now, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and my cell phone close.

I also worry about my mom. Since my dad won't take care of himself, she tries to do it for him . . . doling out his medications, making sure he eats okay, trying to keep him active. But that puts a lot of stress on her. My mom turned 60 last December, and she looks damn good for her age, but I know that all of this has to be hard on her. After all, my parents, after 39 years of marriage, are best friends. When my dad travels with the Red Cross emergency relief team, he calls my mom about 10 times a day, and they talk in hushed tones like a couple of teenagers. Quite frankly, I don't know what either of them would do if something happened to the other.

For now, I am keeping my fingers crossed that what happened is just an anomaly, a fluke. But in the back of my mind, I know that it's not. And it scares the crap out of me.