All day long as I drove along doing my nursery thing, I had a very heavy heart because my dad at 92 is having an operation on his brain to relieve the bleeding caused from a fall in July.
We worked for almost thirty years together at the nursery which sometimes at the time seemed like a mixed blessing yet I always knew was a gift few families get when kids grow up. His ghost is everywhere, and I know that he will never return to the nursery in any capacity, even for a visit due to his inability to drive anymore, and his reduced capabilities... mom’s also.
My heart ached when I thought of him. There’s nothing I can do for him, he is in NC, and the ICU bed has no phone... I can’t even call him. He did not really know I was me two weeks ago when I went to the hospital to see him, but that didn’t stop him from continually talking about his childhood with stories I had never heard before.
I was tempted to talk to people about what was going through my heart, but I realized this type of thing is better suffered alone. Everyone goes through this sooner or later, and discussing it is a fruitless waste of other people’s time and energy. Everyone has their own silent struggles.
As I toiled at my job, though, I did see occasional breaks in the clouds (figuratively and literally).
Sometimes the sun shone through the darkness illuminating Connecticut’s fall glory. Oranges, greens, reds, yellows, etc. Those brief moments knocked my burden off my back, and I was able to breathe again, thanks to nature’s beauty.
I found positivity in my dad’s situation in the huge birch trees out front that I planted ...40 years ago? They glow with happiness sometimes, and today was one of those sometimes.
The recently repotted left-over shrubs from this year on their way to their overwintering house glowed with appreciation at my attention. Happy plants.
Willow-leafed sunflowers flowering when mums hog center stage caught my eye, and I wanted to bend down and thank them for giving me peace- “thank-you, you beautiful unsung heroes.”
My pond glowed with a serenity uncommon these days, and as I went by I did not take this magnificent body of nature for granted. The ugly dock in the foreground used to hold our pump. I don’t have the heart to remove it. It’s part of my past and shall stay for as long as I work at that beautiful nursery.
When I got home, my son and I tried to accomplish something my dog couldn’t. It was windy, and there was no chance in hell that those cheap chinese BBS were going anywhere near that squirrel. I didn’t even point it at it. I can’t kill anything anymore- it’s just not something I can do. Yet it’s fun to shoot BB guns like a kid sometimes.
I hope my dad does ok and pulls through. The battleground of emotions weighing my heart down today was softened by the wonderful bits of Mother Nature surrounding me at the nursery, and these perennials, shrubs and trees are so important in the whole scheme of things in keeping balance in life for me, something very apparent today.
Post script with current events 10/26/20:
My father’s surgery did not end up working out despite the best efforts of UNC Chapel Hill, and he is going to hospice near Wilmington, NC.
The above blog post’s experience prepared me for the coming events, and I will forever appreciate the plants that bring me comfort in these trying times.
It’s been far too long since I heard a real president utter reassuring words WITHOUT LYING, without putting other races down. I’ve missed normalcy for four years now with tRump in office, and hearing this today was a good thing for my soul.
Here is 35 minutes of his speech in PA. today:
I'm sorry that this blog entry has nothing whatsoever to do with horticulture, yet I just had an experience that I would like to share.
Last week, I got a call from my mother telling me that my dad had been taken from the senior living place where they live to a Wilmington, N.C. hospital. His ailment was a constant increasing pain somewhere in his abdomen. That's all she knew, and after we hung up, I was not overly concerned, he was in good hands.
Ever had a phone call during the day that incites in your soul uncontrollable child-like sobbing? I got one of those the next day when my sister called me telling me that the Wilmington hospital did not have the proper equipment for my dad's necessary surgery, and that we as a family could send him to hospice to die comfortably or send him to UNC Chapel Hill to THE ONLY DAMNED ICU BED in the ENTIRE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA (no brainer, sis!).
Because of North Carolinian's refusal to take covid seriously, over 1,000 ICU beds were occupied with covid patients (46 in Connecticut). There was only one bed left in that state, and my dad got it!
I called him last Saturday night when I finally tracked him down, and when the nurse held the phone to his head, I was finally able to talk to him. Rather, I was finally able to hear from his gasping the seriousness of his condition. "Dad, don't talk, just listen, I'll talk." I tried to talk to him, but the difficulty my soul was having at the increasing realization of the matter choked me up, and I was no longer able to talk either. Since neither one of us was able to talk, continuing the conversation was impossible, and I told him that I would call the next day.
When my mom had called me, I went to a local car rental place to rent a hearse-like SUV so I could sleep in the back while I was in NC. Most people in NC do not take this virus seriously BECAUSE OF tRUMP's malignant mishandling of the pandemic, so I was not going to die because I had a nice comfy hotel room filled with DNA from other people who scoff at Fauci. I was sleeping in the car.
Sunday morning I basically dumped my dog off at a friends house, told the staff to close the nursery, put a sign on the gate about a family emergency, I opened the cat food bag, filled the bowl with water and started off driving safely but speedily.
I only stopped once on my way to Chapel Hill for gas, praying silently to Mother Nature to keep my dad alive until I got to see him again. I drove through covid-empty highways at rush hour in Baltimore and Washington, and the abusive lashing of then-tropical storm "delta" on my windshield at 60mph reducing my visibility to thirty feet somewhere shy of Chapel Hill.
I knew that I wanted to bring food-gifts, so I stopped at a grocery store to get primarily grapefruits and candy for dad who has the biggest sweet tooth this side of Japan.
The store's grapefruits were the size of lemons, and weighed about as much as a raisin, so I got a bunch of other stuff instead and drove to the hospital.
I walked into the room with my bag of stuff, and he recognized me. He talked to me without gasping. When I curled up in the chair to try to sleep, he started talking. He started talking, and wouldn't stop. He told me all about his childhood, going to his grandmother's farm in West Stockholm, NY (located in northern Canada, actually).
When I realized that it was impossible to sleep in that chair, I went to the Hearse-SUV and stripped and set up camp in the back on the air mattress. The next morning, I got up at six so I could talk to the doctors who never came so I could be better informed about his condition. When I left the hospital around noon, they still hadn't come into his room, but I did not care.
What I saw between 6:30am and noon is the motivation for this blog post-
I had never seen nurses in action before, so what I experienced was a welcome eye opener. They called him by his first name, checked on him constantly, helped him with mundane things, administered medications. When normally personal private issues did not turn out as planned, the nurses came together as a group and made my dad feel like an important human being. His dignity is intact at UNC Chapel Hill, and I will NEVER forget what I saw.
One nurse, knowing that the doctors were sidelined, came in and fully informed me of my dad's issues in the past, what they were doing for him in the present, and what to expect them to probably do in the future. They treated me as a human being- with respect, as if I mattered in the whole scheme of things being done to help so many people.
I'll finish my story tomorrow