Wednesday morning started with a text from my mom, “Your dad is having chest pains, and we are going to the ER.” Which threw me back to 10 years ago when I got a phone call from my mom telling that my dad had had a heart attack and was having surgery — it also happened to be 10 days before my wedding. This time I’m not getting married, but it’s still chilling information.

My siblings and I waited for updates. He did not have a heart attack. All the tests the doctors ran looked good, but they were still going to take a look at his heart. Then the news – he needed bypass surgery – crack you open and borrow arteries and veins from other parts of your body surgery. (Thankfully I didn’t know the full extent of what bypass surgery entailed until after he had successful bypass surgery).

The next morning, I decided that I wanted to go to the hospital. I wanted to be there.  My husband and I cleared our plans with work, notified the kids’ teachers, coordinated schedules with my siblings, and headed down on Friday. And then we waited.

I can’t remember if I prayed or just tried not to think scary thoughts while DJing Taylor Swift and playing movies for the girls. But eventually, I got the text that he was out of surgery and doing well.  As we got closer to the hospital, I finally told the girls that Papaw’s heart was sick. He was in the hospital and wouldn’t be at the house.

My oldest has been learning about heart disease through Jump Rope for the Heart, so she immediately asked if Papaw had heart disease and if he had heart surgery. We explained that he did have heart surgery, would be in the hospital for a while, and that they couldn’t see him because he was too sick. Then my husband dropped me off at the hospital and took the girls to my parents’ house.

The weekend was filled with siblings working together to fix clogged sinks and tripped breakers, install solar lights, coordinate meals for everyone, and take turns visiting dad at the hospital. It was hard; it was busy; and it was good.

Me and dad
Me and dad

As we got ready to leave Monday, I knew I was going to be emotional. I wished I could stay longer, but I appeased my worry by volunteering to make sure my mom had meals for the rest of the week.

So Monday morning, I sat with my dad a while, and since he was still in ICU the girls couldn’t see him. As we left he hospital, I became upset, and Maggie grabbed my hand and said, “It’s okay. Daddy (talking about my daddy) will be okay.” Elise argued with Maggie about her use of the word daddy because their daddy wasn’t in the hospital while starting to cry. Elise asked, “Could you please never cry when you leave the hospital again because it makes me cry.” Uh, sure.

Then we took the girls to look in my dad’s first floor window. My mom flashed the light from her phone, letting us know we were at the right window. The girls could see his hand wave and say I love you through the glass. And then it was time to leave.

Looking through the window
Looking through the window

As we were driving home, Maggie immediately passed out, but when she woke up she said, “It was just really thick glass and I couldn’t see. I could only see a reflection….sometimes you stayed at the hospital a long time. The first time Papaw was sick and we were driving to Mamaw’s I had tears in my eyes because you weren’t there.”

That confession is enough to make a mom get all upset again. My sweet girl missing her Mamaw and Papaw and mom and holding it all together even though she didn’t really understand what was happening. Elise woke up singing Taylor Swift and then joined our conversation. We talked about how tired Papaw was and that you are tired when you are sick. Elise could tell he was sitting so she wanted to know if he could walk. I explained that Papaw could walk but that your heart makes your whole body work, so when you have surgery on your heart, it makes your whole body tired. That seemed to appease them as they started asking for snacks and movies.

Now, we are home and settled in. The girls want a few more hugs and kisses than usual. But we are here and we are good. While my parents are there, taking my dad’s 6-week recovery one day at time, we will be  here waiting for more updates and hoping for no more unexpected news.

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