Friday, January 16, 2015

What My Parents Taught Me from Their Hospital Beds - Part V

When I began this blog series on Monday, I had no idea how many posts I'd write. As I began reminiscing over the four weeks I spent in Maryland beside my parents' hospital beds, I realized I could write an entire book.

Yet all things on this side of heaven come to an end. And it seems I'm writing my next to last post in this series. Tomorrow will be the last.

First, a quick recap for those joining me for the first time...

Eleven days before Christmas, I boarded a 6am flight to Maryland after hearing that my Mom had been rushed to ICU. She suffered a serious infection, her body went into septic shock and she spent 14 long days in ICU. 

Those days were long and trying, yet we began to see miracles unfold before our eyes. I've shared some of those miracles along the way. 

I've also shared the setbacks.

Like the fact that my Dad, who'd been planted beside my mother every single day, suffered a horrible fall, leading to the discovery of a degenerative spinal condition, partial paralysis and two emergency surgeries. 

It's been a whirlwind.

It's also been a blessing.

One blessing has been the many lessons I've learned along the way. I've blogged about each...

The Lord has taught me these lessons as I've sat and thought and prayed quite a bit during my parents illnesses. He's used my parents to make these lessons stick.

The lesson I want to share today, comes from my Dad once again. It's a love story. We all love a good love story, don't we?

This story began many years ago, before I was even born. It began in a town named Petersburg, Virginia, where my parents met on the campus of Virginia State University. Of course I wasn't there, but I'm assuming that first meeting was pretty cool. 

My parents wed soon after college on July 6, 1957 and relocated to Baltimore, Maryland to start anew in the "big city". The first college graduates in their families, they came from humble beginnings, but worked hard to make a new life for themselves. They became educators, my father became a business-owner and they eventually "moved on up" like George and Louise Jefferson. (Is The Jeffersons theme song ringing in your ears too?)

And they started a family. They had three girls, of which I'm the youngest.

While growing up, I remember my father's words of admiration for my mother. We'd be watching television or talking about a popular actress like Lena Horne or Phylicia Rashad. 

My Dad would often say something along these lines, "That Phylicia's a good-looking woman... but not as pretty as you mother."

Makes me smile just remembering his oft-spoken words.

So, it shouldn't have come as a surprise when my Dad responded to a picture of my Mom I'd snapped on my smartphone. She had begun recovering, was taken off the respirator and no longer sedated. He was in the hospital now too, but hadn't begun experiencing the "post-operative delusion" that he's still fighting through. 

My Dad took one look at his wife of 57 years, smiled and said, "Pretty as a peach."

Now I'm sure you can imagine my mother, who never misses a hair or nail appointment and who's known for her gorgeous wardrobe, has seen better days. She's still a beautiful woman, but six weeks in a hospital would wear anyone down physically. 

But my Dad didn't see any of that. To him, she's still "pretty as a peach."

One day, after my Dad's first surgery, my sisters and I orchestrated a phone call for my parents. Their conversation was precious and brought us to tears. Hearing them call each other's names was amazing. Their conversation was priceless.

"Hello," my father said. "How are you feeling?"

My mother responded in her new, raspy voice. "Carl, what happened? How did we get here?" 

I giggled a bit when my father, in his confused state, told her that they'd driven themselves right to the hospital. Actually, they'd both come to the hospital via ambulance.

Then he said, "All we have to do is get home, get some rest, then we'll be all better." 

And that is our prayer. That my parents would one day in the near future be able to come home again. Sit in their favorite chairs and watch TV. 

And look into each other's eyes.

Immediately after that phone call, my father told us in no uncertain terms, "I'm going to get out of here and go get your mother."

He meant it. And he would if he could.

My father has taught me a lot about love. 

Loving God.

Loving your family.

And the love he has for his wife.

We all love a good love story. 

I've seen one with my own eyes.

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