As a young child you rely on the assistance of your parents to feed, clothe and protect you. When you go to school you need the guidance of teachers, administrators and other support personnel to motivate and engage you in learning. From your peers you learn how to socialize with the world. At work you rely on your colleagues to assist you in completing the business tasks at hand required in your profession and the service you provide to your community and the world around you.
As you get older you realize that you will always have a group of people to support you with your endeavors. When you become an adult, you become more selective of the roles you allow people to play in your life. If I were Superman or Wonder Woman, I could say that I could do it all, but even those two super heroes needed guidance and support from somebody. There isn’t a job in the world that doesn’t hold you accountable to someone. Whether you are single or married, you have a network of people you interact with on a casual to personal and professional level. As your parents age, you find your roles reverse and you now become the caregiver that they need, much like you needed them when you were little.
The day before my 51st birthday, I received a call that my dad was in the hospital in critical care. His aorta valve had completely collapsed. As I rushed to South Carolina I was blessed to have a support system in place to look after things at home and in South Carolina where I was needed. The call came at 9:30 in the morning and I was at work. I didn’t even hesitate; I told my boss I had to go and didn’t know when I would be returning. His response was “log in and work when you can and call me when you get to South Carolina so I know you arrived okay”. I couldn’t get a hold of my husband to tell him what happened, but I had a girlfriend who I was talking with when I received the call. She and my mom kept calling my husband until they got a hold of him, and then informed the rest of my support team (my closest friends and family members) of the situation and what I needed. My first trip in September I stayed nine days. In October I returned for another 6 days, and for Thanksgiving, I only stayed a couple of days but was able to take my son to see his grandfather resting and on the mend at home.
God forbid if I wasn’t married and had to make that trip under those circumstances. Having to pick up my son up from school and either take him with me or make arrangements for him to stay with someone, would have weighed heavy on me. I didn’t know how long I was going to be needed, but the circumstances at that point were critical; they didn’t think my father was going to survive. If I took my son, how would I explain that he wouldn’t be able to see his grandfather in the critical intensive care unit, and if he did how detrimental would that have been.
What if it had been me in my dad’s situation? How would my husband and I cope with daily activities such as getting our son back and forth to school and trying to maintain a job? Would we have to sacrifice his after school activities? Where would we turn to receive occupational and physical therapy assistance? What rehabilitation center would we find close to home for me to go and regain my strength before coming home. Once I got home, what resources would we need to help with daily chores such as meals, getting back and forth to medical appointments, getting our son to school, bathing, etc? With both set of our parents well into their 70’s and 80’s, what other resources could we use to assist us?
I didn’t have time to fall apart for my step-mother needed me to be strong for her and my father. I’m grateful because my father, after flat lining twice and undergoing three transfusions, two open heart surgeries and exploratory stomach surgery in a period of eight days, is on the mend. It took a team of people from the doctors, to nurses, dialysis technicians, food services, therapists and a slew of other personnel to care for him. I’m grateful for my husband, my extended family, girlfriends and colleagues who kept me encouraged and took care of things I needed to have done at home, work and in South Carolina. I’m grateful that my son and husband had the support of our friends, the coaches and organization that my husband coaches and son plays for, in keeping their spirits lifted and helping out in order to support me. I’m grateful that my professor at Walden understood and gave me a little lenience in turning in assignments. And lastly my father is grateful that I was able to drop everything and be there when he needed me the most.