My life changed one year ago today. I just didn’t recognize it at the time.
On April 24, 2017, I received a call from the ER nurse at the hospital in my hometown telling me that my dad had arrived at their doors weak and out of breath. The diagnosis came shortly after: Advanced Congestive Heart Failure.
Mom, meanwhile, was en route to the local nursing home. Following one too many falls, she needed intensive physical therapy to attempt to regain strength in her legs.
One year later, Dad is gone. Mom remains in the nursing home, confined most of the time to a wheelchair.
For eight months following that crazy day in April 2017, I lived primarily in Illinois– caring for Dad as he underwent a series of treatments and procedures and visiting Mom at the nursing home and keeping a constant check on her care, bills, appointments, and so on.
Since Dad’s passing on January 17, I’ve adopted a new role. Several roles, actually. Primary caretaker of my mom, of the farm, of the many everyday details that enable my family to continue on. Fortunately, I had eight months of practice to know what to do. Still, I feel lost much of the time. And sad that the bond Dad and I strengthened during those months together is now a memory.
I spend a lot of time on the road between Alabama and Illinois. Sometimes, I fly, but more often, I drive. using the time in the car to reflect on things.
On Monday of next week, I’ll hand in my semester grades. Tuesday, I’ll hit the road to return to Illinois. To see my mom. To check on the farm. And to figure out what comes next.