Friday, October 22, 2010

Hunker down, think positively and get ready for a battle

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

But when something happens to you, just go out to a busy street and you’ll quickly realize that life goes on. Cars pass by and no one in them is aware of your problems.

That’s the way life is.

Yesterday, my family received some terrible health news. I don’t want to go into detail nor do I want to divulge who it is. The news was shocking. It was like a bolt of lightning going through your body. And the sudden thoughts were like darts piercing your brain.

I was at the bedside of my father when he passed on Dec. 22, 1996. It was a shock, but not unexpected. He was 75 years old and had been in the hospital for a week. I talked with him every day and was convinced he was feeling better. I didn’t think there was any urgency to fly north.

But on Saturday morning, I received a call from my youngest brother that Dad had suffered a massive heart attack during the night and wasn’t expected to make it. I arranged a flight and headed for Ohio. I left the warmth of sunny Florida for the cold and gray of southwestern Ohio.

I didn’t get into Dayton until about 5 p.m. Two of my brothers were waiting for me at the airport and we hurried to the hospital. When we got to Dad’s floor, two of my sisters in law and my other brother were with my Dad.

He looked peaceful in the bed. He didn’t appear to be in any pain. He was unconscious and sedated. He was hooked up to a myriad of machines.

I don’t know if he could hear me or not, but I said to him, “Dad, Marshall won the National Championship (Div. I-AA) today. The Herd clobbered Montana.”

That might be a strange thing to say in such a situation, but I knew my Dad would want to know. He attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., prior to becoming a Navy pilot during World War II. He always had an interest in the Thundering Herd. In fact, he’d attended a Marshall game just a few weeks prior and had watched the Herd pummel Southern Conference foe The Citadel.

Marshall football, for those not familiar, wasn’t something that was impressive for many years. In fact, when I attended MU, I didn’t see the Herd win a game until November of my junior year. MU had the losingest program in the nation for years.

For the Herd to be competing for national championships in football at any level was amazing.

So, I knew Dad would want to know.

He passed a few minutes later.

It was almost as if he waited until I arrived.

My mother had passed 13 months earlier. I wasn’t with her at the time, but I had spent the previous two weeks with her. We had some great talks and shared a lot of memories.

“Steve, I dream that I’m OK, but I know that will never happen,” she said.

Mom died from complications of emphysema in November of 1995.

My wife’s father passed in July of 2009. Ironically, he was in Dayton at the time, living with his wife. She was with him the last few days.

It’s always tough when you lose your parents. But you’ll always have great memories. And it’s somewhat easier to take when they’ve already lived a majority of their live.

But when you get the news that someone very close to you has that nasty, insidious disease no one wants to talk about, well, it’s just not fair.

We cried yesterday. We laughed. We took a walk. We sat and hugged.

We decided we’d fight this thing and maintain positive attitudes.

Just a little while ago, I received a call that the survival rate of this particular disease is very high and extremely curable.

“Just the type I wanted,” I was told.

Who would have ever thunk that?

We did.

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