The morning started in a panic. Papaw Delmer was taken by ambulance to the ER with difficulty breathing. He had been told by his doctors this could be a symptom of his blood clot moving to his lungs.
The family held our breaths as we waited. We had no clue what the coming hours would hold, much less days. My sister and I listened as the ER doctor explained the issues, using the phrase “potentially lethal” to describe his pulmonary embolisms. He then asked us to repeat back what we understood him to say, ensuring we understood the seriousness of the situation.
June 17th, Father’s Day
Jay and I went to Mamaw and Papaw’s house for a visit. While we were there, we helped them with a few chores, including taking a gander at his vegetable garden and picking anything ripe.
After we completed the work, we followed them into the living room for a visit. Mamaw Myrtle looked through old photographs, trying to find a picture of her father to post on Facebook. She dug out a genealogy book, tracing her genealogy back to the American Revolution.
She also found a paper my brother-in-law had written for college, interviewing Papaw Delmer titled Oral History from an Appalachian Elder. Jay read through the paper, asking for specifics along the way.
Only a month separated the two events. I still tear up thinking about getting that first call from my mother. The drive to the hospital, trying to keep it together as our world seemed to fall apart.
Telling myself over and over You can always panic later. You can never un-panic, and your family needs you to keep it together.
My grandfather could have easily died last month. Sitting with him this past weekend, laughing about the shenanigans of his childhood is a blessing that I might not have appreciated this time last year. I want to shout to anyone who will listen: Isn’t God amazing?
Papaw hasn’t yet regained all his strength. He can only look on, as others go into his garden to pick vegetables. He is a fall risk and is confined to flat, even ground. But make no mistake, he is a walking miracle.
Yet, whenever that word is used, some care has to be taken. I don’t know why we received a miracle when so many others do not. Specifically, friends and coworkers who have lost parents over the last few years come to mind. I can’t begin to explain it, and I won’t offer a feeble attempt.