Ten years ago last Thursday, I was in our new house, still surrounded by boxes and half-done home improvements, when I got a phone call in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday. It was one of my mother's best friends, telling me that my parents had gotten in a car accident driving home from South Dakota.
Five years ago tonight, I got a phone call from my mother telling me my father had died. The end of July has historically not been kind to my family.
There's a psychologist with a weekly program on our local NPR station who's quadriplegic after a highway accident where a wheel came off of a semi and came through his windshield. He says the last thing he saw was a big black thing coming out of the sky onto him. As a psychologist, he said he's found that most people have a moment like that, where something huge comes out of the sky and changes life forever. By my mother's accident, we had been getting a steady rain of tires between dying grandparents, health problems and my father's diagnosis. But the accident was the really life changing, derailing event. I went from your typical young adult in my mid-twenties who didn't have to worry about much more than myself and my husband to giving up plans for a second Master's degree so I could take care of my parents. I don't think I have to explain what it was like to lose a beloved father to a terrible disease.
And yet, five and ten years later, life has gone on. My mother lives her life with the help of aides, and has traveled all over the world. I hate how condescending much of the language people use surrounding disability, so I recoil from adjectives like "heroic" or "inspiring," but I do admire her adventurousness and her willingness to travel despite the difficulties. Similarly, I go through my days pretty normally and spent today dealing with one kid getting over sickness, another starting to get sick and a lack of water from the water main break last night (it sent water shooting over the top of three story houses - pretty cool).
I'm not sure exactly what my point is here, except that I miss my father and I worry about my mother. Disaster rains down on us and somehow we keep limping along.
I miss you Dad. I wish you could have met your grandsons. They both look like you.