Very few people call me, especially in the morning, except one persistent caller named "Unidentified". Unidentified calls a lot, usually to tell me this is my last warning to take advantage of an Obama bailout that will lower my mortgage interest rate. Unidentified has been telling me this is my LAST warning for many months now and more than once a day. I generally don't answer calls from Unidentified or from his cousin Unknown either.
I thought I better answer this call. It wasn't from Unidentified. It was coming from my parents. My first thought was, "It's THE Call."
My parents (meaning my mother, because dad never calls me) would not phone in the morning unless...unless it's The Call.
The Call, the one that would say, "Your father's dead," was what I expected. I had been anticipating such a call for years, ever since my dad had been rushed to the hospital in the spring of 2009 with his legs the size of an elephant's. We thought he was going to die then and there, but he pulled through. It changed his life. Under doctor's orders his driver's license was taken away. His heart was too weak. He was a danger to others if he was driving and had a seizure.
That must have hurt. My father had driven almost all his life. He had been a long haul truck driver until he was 75. At that time he qualified for driving school buses with a Class B CDL (Commercial Driving License). I guess he decided to give up the rigors of the distant roads for something near home and far less hours. Anyway, if one obtains a Class B CDL, one must give up their Class A. My father didn't have a CDL license of any kind until he was 68, even though he had been driving 18-wheelers since he was 28. Why had he driven 50 years without a CDL? Because that license didn't exist until 1986. Prior to1986 any fool with an ordinary driver's license could drive a big rig, whether they knew how or not.
He drove school buses for the next ten years of his life, until he turned 85.
In 2009 dad became officially "elderly". It took a while after leaving the hospital before he could walk and then it was with the aid of a walker. He could walk some with just a cane, but gradually the walker became necessary.
He got a pacemaker and a slew of ailments, Atrial Fibrillation, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Hypertension, Macular Degeneration and Skin Cancer. He is also prone to falls.
And so when the phone rang early that Wednesday morning and the Caller ID was my parent's number, I thought it was "The Call". I was surprised when I was greeted by the gravelly, gruff voice of my father, who never calls me. "Your mother is in the hospital. She had a stroke. I want you to come up here."
My wife had a doctor's appointment at 1:00. It was an exam in order to renew her medication. She only had a couple days left and she does need her medicine. Still, this seemed like an emergency situation. I called the doctor, explained and postponed the appointment. My wife and I left at once for the hour drive to my dad's.
I didn't know yet that my mother had the stroke on Sunday, April 1. This was April 4. He had waited four days to tell me and now it was critical for me to rush there immediately? Things were very under control on that Wednesday. They were to soon slip from control to chaos, but that was still a few days into the future.
I also didn't realize that when dad called me he was about to hand me a ticket to a horror show.