Buuzzzz! Buuzzzzz! Buuzzzzz! At 4 o’clock this morning, I was awakened from my dreams to the sound of my alarm. It took me a few minutes to recall why on earth I was waking up at such an ungodly hour. As I blinked bleary eyed at the green numbers switching to 4:01 I remembered – my dad was having heart surgery this morning. I am not a morning person. I’m quite thankful that both my kids sleep in each day until after 8 and that, as a stay-at-home-mom, that means I get to as well. Even when I have somewhere to be in the morning, I rarely am awake before 7:30 because I refuse to schedule doctor appointments (and such) before 10 o’clock. The few reasons I am happy and willing to wake up before the sun are: Christmas, an early flight to Disneyland or a morning hot-air balloon ride. Driving an hour to sit at a hospital worrying about my dad certainly does not top my list of fun things to do in the wee hours of the day.
At five on the dot, two of my sisters (Amy and Lizzy) arrived to ride down to the premier hospital in the area with me. We stopped to pick up our Nanny (not a baby-sitter, our 82 year old grandmother) on the way. As I pulled into her driveway and dashed up the stairs in the misty rain, the oddest thing happened. Her door didn’t open when I turned the knob. Strange. So, I turned it the other way, thinking I’d forgotten which way it opened. Still not budging. Please understand, this was the first time in my entire life my Nanny’s door had been locked. Seriously. I have no memories of anything other than knocking lightly on Nanny’s door and then going right in. Since she is now mostly deaf, I was pondering how hard/long to stand there pounding on the door when I heard the phone ringing in the house. One of my sisters was calling to let Nanny know we’d arrived – smarty pants. It hit me just then WHY the door was locked. My Poppa (Nanny’s husband of over 50 years and my beloved grandfather) has been in and out of hospitals and rehab centers since last December and hasn’t lived at the house with Nanny for many months. It made me sad to think of my sweet English grandmother living alone and being concerned enough for her safety that after 40+ years in the same house – she’s finally locking her doors against the evil of the outside world.
The mist turned to full on Seattle rain as we headed into the city, chatting about nothing in particular on the way. As we turned off the freeway I heard Amy ask from the backseat “Are the doors locked?”. I noticed the reason for her question a few moments later as a wild looking – obviously homeless man – wandered close to our car. Given the early hour, steadily falling drizzle and still partial darkness outside, I understood Amy’s desire for us to be safely locked inside. As I assured my little sister that indeed we were secure, Nanny commented “Perhaps he’s just a student!”. My sisters and I got a good chuckle out of that, especially since Amy is currently a student at University of Washington. I remarked, “Nans. You totally just offended Amy – do you think that’s what SHE looks like?”.
We got to the hospital and hung out with my dad for a while during his pre-op procedures. Then, after hugs and good-byes, took over the family waiting area for the next hour or so. Dad has coronary artery disease and this is the second time within the past 11 months he’s had a surgery to remove a blockage in his heart. Basically, there’s nothing he can do to stop the plaque from building along his artery walls. His doctors have told him there isn’t anything wrong with his diet or exercise level. That his problems are not from the common culprits of heart disease. He’s not even a smoker – just got the wrong genes. It kind of makes me mad that, thru no fault of his own, my dad has to deal with such a persistent problem, that could one day end his life. The heart surgeon reiterated to my dad today that there’s nothing they can do for him besides just keep cleaning him out – that “You’ve got coronary artery disease – it’s the number one killer in the Western Hemisphere. If we could fix it, we would, but we can’t.”. Comforting huh?
I wish there was a door I could lock that would keep my dad safe. That in the face of an uncertain future, I could turn a key and keep heart disease at bay. Too bad there isn’t a magic button that would shut him up tight, protected from harm. I guess I just have to trust that the number one killer has nothing on the God of the universe. That while there’s nothing I can do for him, my dad is safe in our Father’s arms.