Open Heart Surgery Opened My Heart

heart surgery

Nobody likes to see their parent’s lying in hospital beds, hooked up to blinking, ticking, and pumping machines, with a breathing tube down their esophagus.

Such was the scene this week when my daddio had open heart surgery; double bypass yo.

We had known about the surgery for a month, and my family went about their business, doing their work, and going to work, with little discussion about the impending surgery and what it would mean. Maybe it was a good thing- no time for dwelling, minds occupied and all that jazz (hands).

On D-day, I met my parents at the hospital at a very early 6:30AM. As we waited for my dad to be admitted, my mother played scrabble on her Kindle, and I engaged my dad in a conversation about potential stocks to buy and the latest comments made by the idiots running for President; neither subjects I was especially interested in, especially at the butt crack of dawn. I had to talk, and my dad had to make suggestions and offer his opinions. It’s what we do when we’re nervous.

After 45 minutes of listening to Little People, Big World, loudly play in the background, my father’s name was called and he was brought back to a room to change his clothes. In his absence, my mother and I discussed where we were going to eat lunch, once the procedure was in full bloom, and we had four or five hours to kill.

My brother arrived a little while later, and before he even sat down, he started complaining about the traffic on the Hutchinson Parkway, wondering why there were so many people having surgery, (evidenced by the crowded waiting room), and upset that my mother didn’t stop off for her coffee (that she was now jones-ing for) on their way into the hospital; like my brother had. That’s what he did when he was nervous.

Fifteen or so minutes later, the three of us were brought in to see my father. He was sitting in a large medical recliner, which my mother said would be great for the house– just cause. He was stylishly dressed in his hospital apparel; gown, robe and grippy socks. It was quite the ensemble.

Topics were bandied about, jokes told, sarcasm, critiques and judgements about this or that, and this one and that one. My mother plucked my brother’s ear hair with tweezers that she pulled from her purse, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I snapped photos for posterity (or blackmail) and we laughed. Hard.

That was until my father brought up what I had dreaded ever hearing from him. “If anything happens, please take care of your mother, and please be kind to each another.”

My brother and my mother brushed it off, not wanting to entertain his directive; but I was different. I wanted him to have peace of mind before his chest was cracked open. I’m funny that way. I assured him that we would all be okay, and that he didn’t have anything to worry about.

Of course my brother and I would take care of our mother. In some ways, that had already begun. And as much as my brother and I never got along, and don’t have much of a relationship today, I know that I can count on him, and I hope that he feels the same about me.

There was a brief moment, lasting less than a minute, when silence permeated the room. This was it. The four of us. This was how we started, before the extended family, husbands, wives, friends, and grandchildren; and this could potentially be where it ended. And something about that calmed me. This was how it was supposed to be.

These three people, with their many, many, many, flaws, were my family… god help me.


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