The best gift this year came with a gold bow on top and wrapped in a DAV (Disabled American Veteran) blanket found in a thrift store. My Papa put a gold bow on his head on Christmas and it was awesome. Not that my father has never done anything cool or cute before. At 4’11”, he can’t help being adorable although at times he is the charming bad ass.
I call him Cranky. He started yelling at the TV a couple years ago and hasn’t stopped. He is a Fox News addict and while I am grateful that he has started voting, his renewed interest in politics has been some what distressing.
When he is in the hospital, I call him, Sir Crank Pants. I don’t care what the nurses thought of our banter, making my dad smile is one of the best things in life. One nurse told the doctor that my dad was delusional. He isn’t. Stubborn as hell, set in his ways but not delusional. He can learn and grow. He is slow to trust and loyal to the core; mess with one of his kids then you are in trouble.
Two weeks ago, Momma and I were sitting down to eat lunch and drink mojitos, our little tradition, when my sister called. The message which came to us was that Papa had fallen. Our order was cancelled as we rushed out the door waving goodbye to our mojitos. And not caring in the slightest.
We arrived at the hospital and discovered that he hadn’t fallen. His sodium was so low that our family doctor (yes, we actually have one doctor for all of us) called and told him to go directly to the Emergency Room where we found him. He looked so small draped in a hospital gown. He may be short, but predictably he has never been small.
He has always been huge in my life. A giant.
When I first met Papa, I was already taller than him. He was dating Momma and I was living with my birth father. Papa’s arrival meant that she could be a physically part of my life. She didn’t have a car and was living in a closet, not a small apartment in New York. She had no way to get to me. No way to see me. It also meant that Momma had the support that she needed to prosper once again. She got the spark back and started her own craft business.
He came into my life and I got Momma back. All of her.
And he is still here.
My Papa is still here, living and breathing and stirring up trouble and driving us all blessedly nuts.
Warning: This post is a bit wobbly and may be subject to fits of rambling thought.
This last week, I was sick with a cold so awful that all I could do was come from work everyday and go to bed. As I type this I really hope that the last of it has left my system and I will be able to handle a full twelve hours of work tomorrow as well as a cardiologist’s appointment. My follow-up appointment is here at last and though I wish it were another day it is too late to reschedule.
Momma won’t be going with me as she has to pick my sister up from her new job. My sister and her kids moved up from Wast Palm Beach last weekend and she had a job by last Tuesday and an apartment by the end of the week. Way to go, sis!!! I am so proud of everything she has done to make her life and her kids lives better in recent weeks. She is one incredibly strong and stubborn woman.
There is other news, it looks like this will be my last year in the classroom for the time being. Twice my administrators have asked me how I would feel if I was placed in a position outside the classroom. At first I was hesitant, but this might be just what I need to invigorate my career and finish other personal projects that have been left undone. I can always return to the classroom if I don’t like my new assignment. It will be hard leaving my school and the students I have grown to love but the only constant in life is change. And Change is coming.
This was the one thing that was clear this weekend as I attempted to swim through the mind fog created by my illness and the medicine I took to combat it. The other thing that was crystal clear was that my body needed rest and delighted in taking it. I had fallen asleep on my sofa using Luke as a pillow and watching Iron Chef America when Momma poked her head in the door. I had failed to answer my phone three times so an invasion was warranted.
My nephew, Robert, and his siblings followed her in the door. Every week for the next month or so they are going to be coming over to clean their Bearded Dragon’s cages. Lizards generally aren’t my thing, but Pumpkin for whom my sister’s blog is named captured my heart. So now I live with one dog, a turtle, two cats and three Bearded Dragons. Living La Viva Loca and loving it.
And back to work tomorrow. And the day after that and the day after that … until blessed Friday returns.
Day in Day out. I tell myself stories. Sometimes they are good stories. Other times they are just ways to the time and I don’t mourn them when I lose them to memory. Lately, I have been telling a lot of stories and they have making their way onto the page. Two of those stories were written in the days that followed my beloved Papa being admitted to the hospital. I talked to myself and wrote a story. And then another.
Two poems and then another story.
The week and the summer have passed quickly. Papa has been released. He has given up his beloved beer in order to spend the rest of his life with the family he made possible. The beer he gave me inspired a neighbor to cut my lawn when I left it on his front porch.
I stepped in front of the mike and didn’t freeze.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and used the words I tell myself to send a message to the universe. And another poem was birthed.
Met someone new for coffee and another story was trapped on the page.
A friend stopped by and we shot a video to help get my novella, Blood Child, out into the world.
And then it started raining in my house.
I am pretty sure there is another story or poem about to burst forth.
Thursday night, oh, how I remember you. I was feeling slightly sick and just wanted to find my way to being tucked in nicely to bed with Luke at my side and Jack laying like a king on the pillow next to me. Truthfully, I was exhausted and feeling sorry for myself. Sonia, one of my best friends, was kind enough to cook me dinner after which the aforementioned bed and I would be making quick friends once again.
Then I received a text from Momma directing me to call Papa. Ok???? Calling Papa, Momma answered and told me he was taking her to the emergency room because she was numb on parts of her right-side. Not her whole right side just parts. Having been in a Florida emergency room, I urged her to take an ambulance. I feared my mother would be in the waiting room for twelve hours like I was the last time I went with a friend. Yes, you heard me..the last time.
Emergency rooms in Florida and I am going to assume else where around the country are so crowded at times that they look for ways to entertain the ill until they can be helped. The last time I watched four movies in between watching the show being put on by the other occupants. My fastest time in the ER was when I came in on an ambulance with cardiac issues. Thus the reason I wanted Momma to go by ambulance. But, the folks, they are stubborn and I suspect they were in the car when I spoke with them, so there would be no waiting for an ambulance filled with attractive EMTs. A girl can dream, especially when I have such fond memories of the EMT who carted me off to the hospital last spring.
The hospital in Winter Park is old, built in 1951 and has been growing in fits and starts ever since which translates in a maze of hallways and corridors that won’t necessarily allow you to go from point A to B. Basically, you may not be able to get to your destination from your starting point with assistance and a map. Arriving at the hospital, I found that the parking lot is on the opposite side of the emergency room. There was no way to get to the ER from the parking lot without either walking all the way around the complex or walking through the hospital exiting and then entering the ER from the outside.
I choose option B. Thankful a member of staff gave me a map after confirming that she had meet Papa. When I told her that my parents had gone to the ER, she immediately said their last name and then quickly assured me that Papa had been well behaved. “Just a little frustrated with waiting.” Apparently, they have a service to help shuttle people who need assistance but are just visiting from place to place. Not sure how long Papa waited or what the normal wait time is but it was too long for him even with a bad ankle so off he went with his own map in hand.
I expected once I enter the ER to see the usual crowd with my folks nestled among them;Papa with his cane and demented Santa looks and Momma with her salt and pepper pixie do. They weren’t there. In fact, no one was. There was a couple in line at the reception desk and that was it. The next ten seconds in line were an eternity, where were my parents? I wanted to scream for Momma.
The couple moved off and the lovely receptionist immediately knew my folks and directed me to them. A right then another right and as it turns out about ten rooms in.
It isn’t bragging to say that my parents are memorable people. Papa really does look like a demented little Santa Claus. He always wears a baseball hat out and a vest with lots of pockets, similar to the one you would expect a 19th century explorer to wear. Papa stands four feet four or there about while Momma is all of five five. (While I was writing this I texted Momma for Papa’s height and she told me that he says he used to be 6’4″ but he got old. Momma said he got caught in the rain. My theory will be explained in an upcoming post.) She doesn’t wear make-up or fuss with her hair, retirement relieving her of the need to get gussied up on a regular basis. The pixie hair-cut she settled on a couple of years back fits her personality; sweet with just a dash of mischievousness. There is no need to wonder where I got my sense of humor or wicked grin; it came with love from them.
They are friendly and can strike a conversation with anyone and keep it going as if they have known each other for years. I am not kidding on that last part.
My heartbeat settled down as soon as I saw them sitting there calm and collect waiting for the doctor. We would end up sitting in the ER for five hours.
While Momma was wheeled off bed and all for a CT-scan, Papa and I went in search of food. The vending machines yielded nothing suitable for human consumption let alone my diabetic father. Still, he had to eat so we settled on a package of White Castle cheeseburgers. The sleeve of my jacket served as pot holder as we talked back to Momma’s temporary room. They were pretty awful according to Papa and as tempting as mini-burgers are to some they are poison for me so I accepted his word on their taste. When I told him that I had some ketchup in the car, he told me I wasn’t as good as my mother who would have had it in her purse.I sighed with a smile and agreed.
On their first date, my father made spaghetti but forgot red pepper flakes to garnish the dish. Momma who had been shopping that day pulled it out of her purse like magic. A legend and a love was born.
We made our usual jokes about messing with the levers on Momma’s bed and served as general entertainment to the staff all the while amusing ourselves. Papa and I have gotten pretty good with our hospital humor. We have been perfecting it since 2006 when Momma was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. Let it be known far and while the Rose clan is not one to messed with by man or disease. We beat that cancer and the next one that followed. No matter what we are a family and know that together we are stronger than when we are apart. Our imperfections give us character, our battles scars and life is always to be lived not mourned.
When Momma was being pulled out for the CT-scan, Papa was attempting to discuss the purposes of the levers with the transport tech. Momma just gave him a look and I snickered, muttering about the young man being an expert. He laughed like he hadn’t heard it before and maybe he hadn’t. I don’t know how many families approach life with laughter before fear. She returned a half n hour later saying that the wait had been like a conga line.
Papa left to get some real food about midnight and I stayed with Momma until she safety in her room around 2 a.m, texting my regrets into school. Teaching on three hours sleep is never advisable.
The adventure didn’t end then, it continued until Saturday when she was released. Momma was so popular with the nurses that they refused to give up her room and gave her hugs before she left. We both met Winter Park Hospital’s Butterfly lady who told me that I have to take Momma to Sip and Knit in Maitland, which I will do as soon as Momma is ready.
We still don’t know for sure what caused parts of her right hand and foot to go numb. At the moment all we know is that her B-12 is low and she has been regaining feeling since Friday when she got her first shot.
The next adventure is learning how to give Momma her B-12 injections. Luckily for Momma, Papa has already decided to bow out of that one. I am sure that even if he isn’t holding the needle he is going to have plenty to say.
The day I was born Momma begged me for patience. She wanted me to wait just a couple hours so that she could attend a cotillion at the country club at which my paternal grandparents were members. Grandma Rose had insisted that Momma attend even though she was nine months along.
For her part, Momma wanted to to go. After all, do you know how hard it is to find a formal gown when you are nine months along? I am pretty sure that it is difficult given how much emphasis she put on that particular part of the story over the years.
The rest of the story is that Momma knew she was in labor. She knew there was no way that she was going to be able to spend the night enjoying the high society of a small Pennsylvania town. She just wanted to go and make a grand exit.; stealing the show from Grandma Rose who had made her go to event after event while pregnant.
I had other plans. Personally, I think I wanted to party. Momma had my brother, Frederick, on her lap when she had a contraction. My maternal Grandmother was sitting across the table and noticed when my big brother flinched.
“Patty?” She said.
“Yes, Mom.” My momma replied looking everywhere but at her mother.
“Did you just have a contraction?” She inquired. I could never like to Granny and neither could my mother.