"Well, I just bundled your father off to the hospital in an ambulance."
On this past Saturday morning, that was not what I was expecting to hear my mother say on the phone.
The good news is he is home again, and what he experienced, though frightening, was mild by any yardstick.
He had a very, very small stroke. It affected his left big toe, and the sole of his left foot. He is expected to have a full recovery. He still has some atrial fibrillation and I don't know if that will mean anything drastic later (pacemaker?) but for now the doctors think that will calm down. The a-fib causes blood clots, so he is transitioning onto a blood thinner. He sounds tired, says the drugs are giving him "weird" in his head. Probably a combination of the long weekend and the drug acclimation. I hope his body adjusts and the fatigue isn't a permanent side-effect. I know I had some weird dreams for a week when I went on high blood pressure medicine (and the drug label did warn of such.)
My father and mother are the same age, 81. My Dad is a healthy 81 yr old. Oh, not athletic or anything. His only long term issue had been high blood pressure. A few years ago he took a tumble on the front lawn and his back sometimes needs extra chiropractic attention. That's it. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him physically downed by a flu, or kidney stone. Even a few years ago, when there was the (perceived) shortage of flu shots, and my Dad was in his late 70s, his doctor told him, "Mac, I need to save the shots for other patients. You're a senior, but you have the constitution of a horse. You don't need it."
Immune to poison ivy and a cast iron stomach that is impervious to motion sickness, too. Oh, how I wish I had gotten those genes. Trust me, I didn't.
I suppose we all think of our fathers as immortal, if we were fortunate enough to grow up with them around. Giants, whose knees we stood at when we were three years old, regardless of how tall or stocky they really are. My mother, ever pragmatic, warned me probably ten years ago, "You know, right? You could get a call anytime. We're at that age now."
I know, and I like to think I have some warning and can steel myself a little. I won't lie and say I could ever steel myself completely. I wouldn't want to.
I am blessed that my parents are still with us. I am glad they get to know my children, who are the youngest on account of my being the last child and taking my sweet time to become a father.
I am just damn glad this wasn't the call, and we can all have some more time.