It’s okay to write about this now because everything’s cool.
I received this voicemail on Christmas Day from my brother Jeff:
John, brother Jeff here. Gimmee a call. Mom and Dad are in the hospital and we think they are okay but give me a call.
While Lynley was on her phone thanking her parents for our gifts, I dialed my brother (who lives in Bourbonnais, Illinois) and paced the living room, trying not to show any panic. Jeff answered and before he could utter a syllable, I blurted, “Car wreck!?” He said no and succinctly explained that Mom was on her treadmill for nearly an hour in the garage when she had some kind of spasms. (While it make ruin the story flow it must be noted here that Mom has spent most of the last three decades working out on a treadmill or to her Cher exercise tape while saying her rosary. I’m not joking. Talk about a multi-tasker.) Dad was putzing around in the garage and saw Mom hit the deck. He immediately called 911. He followed the ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. When he was approached by hospital personnel near the emergency entrance, it was quickly apparent that he was disoriented. My sisters Geralyn and Sue, who live in the South Bend area rushed to the hospital.
Bam. Just like that, two married 80-year olds spent Christmas in separate hospital rooms. Mom seemed okay other than a scrap on her forehead. Dad was continuing to regain clarity. They spent the night in the hospital and had every test except the SAT. Everything checked out. They were released the next day.
Sparring the gory details, we think Mom over-heated and Dad saw his bride of 57-years in a way that… well, a way you don’t prepare to see your wife.
I share this family story not to bring attention to my parents.
But rather, my parents reaction.
In speaking to them a few days later, dancing around the odd fact that I didn’t talk to my parents on Christmas Day for the first time since I was cutting teeth, my parents opened up about how they weren’t going to let this episode scare them. They were going to keep on living life. Keeping on. In the days since, telephone conversations with my parents may briefly drift back to that surreal day but like writing your initials in the sand at low tide, the intense emotion of that day seems to have been washed away. Oh, and the fact my parents never like their kids worrying about them. (I’m not stupid.)
We all know what happened. Why it happened.
We just choose not to dwell on it.
I know this may seem strange (and perhaps naive) but every member of our family is “square” with each other.
No unfinished business. Don’t get me wrong, we have spats just like all families but Mom and Dad set a great tone of not sweating the small stuff. Even when it’s big stuff.
We aren’t ignoring the “elephant in the room” because there are no large African mammals crowding our houses.
If there were, I think what happened last month would have exposed issues. Helluva way to confirm it though.
I did learn one valuable lesson.
Don’t accidentally have your cell phone on silent Christmas Day.