Our oldest, Marcus, once told me he was certain that his biological mom had overdosed. After he had moved out of our home, and in with his girlfriend, he reached out to her. He tried again and again through several channels to try and get in touch. He was convinced that she had died this time and that he had simply missed it. All of his panic turned out to be unfounded. She was still alive in Puerto Rico but was keeping her contact information relatively secret. She didn’t want to hear from or be reminded about her children after losing parental rights. Marcus was mad, but I remember so clearly his panic. He was worried she was dead. He was worried he had missed it.
I got the call while driving back from vacation. Luke and I and the kids were driving home from Virginia. I had just reconnected with my brother after 15 years. Luke and I were about halfway home to Connecticut when I got the call that my father was drastically ill and in Intensive Care at the hospital. This was an urgent situation. I needed to go to him right away before it was too late.
I got what information I could from his girlfriend and her children. At 90-years-old he had sepsis, gall stones, problems regulating sugar, bed sores that wouldn’t heal, and possibly dementia. Up until about a week ago he had been staying in a rehab facility for a broken leg. He had been functioning fairly well. I didn’t realize he had quit eating weeks ago. I thought he was healing his leg and getting ready to leave the rehabilitation facility. Then one of his girlfriend’s daughter’s sent me a picture. I gasped to see my once strong, tall, and commanding father. He was now a frail 85 pounds, no longer 6 feet tall. He lay limp in a hospital bed.
How ironic is it that I just had this conversation with my brother, Ed? Now Dad was in crisis and I had to act. Only this time, I was not alone. Luke and I scrambled to try and make plans to get me out to California. We weren’t even back in Connecticut yet. Should he drop me off at JFK so that I could get a standby flight to CA? Would I make it in time?
As we were frantically trying to find flights, hotels, and get information from the hospital, Ed came through. He bought me a round trip ticket for the next day from CT to CA. That was half the battle. Booking.com took care of my hotel, and my mom made plans to come. Luke had work but managed to figure out childcare while I was gone between my step-dad and some friends. I was going to make it to see my Dad. I worried that I wouldn’t make it in time but I knew that I was going.
I remembered Marcus. I could feel the same panic in myself, only I was able to take steps to see my dad. I was able to get information. I wasn’t shut out. What would happen with Mary and Carl someday? Would they know when their biological mom was close to the end? Would they be able to be there? Would they want to?
All I can say is that there is comfort in family. In times of crisis it is comforting not to be alone. My brother came through on our recent conversation. He bought me the ticket. My mom didn’t hesitate to go with me even though she had been divorced from my father for over 30 years. Will I do the same for my kids? Will I want to? I hope so.
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.