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My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings
There’s a lot going on all around the world in which I might voice my opinions but, I’m going to give my anger and disappointment a break tonight. Tonight I’m going to keep my mind and my thoughts at home. I told you last week that my oldest son was going to have his gallbladder removed this week. We arrived at The Fields Surgical Center at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday for a procedure that would start at 11:30 a.m. Right up until they called him back to prep him, Payton was still talking leisurely about any pain and discomfort he had been warned about. He acted as though he was getting a tooth filled as opposed to an organ removed. The doctor’s orders, no driving for at least a week. “I’ll be driving on Thursday,” he said. Do not return to work for at least a week. “I’ll be going back by Friday,” he said. Neither of which he accomplished. I won’t get into the doctor’s orders and what Payton said about the wound dressings and his limited activity.

At 2:00 p.m. I was called back to meet with the surgeon and twenty minutes later I was sent a text message to bring my car around to pick Payton up to take him home. Needless to say he was complaining and full on unbearably grumpy when he got into the car for the drive home. Once home he went straight to bed and slept the rest of the day, night, next day, next night, and finally showed some signs of life Thursday. His pain was constant and I was on the move doing this and that and then some in order to tend to his needs. It’s Friday night about 11:00 p.m. now and he has just taken a short drive in his car. Not because the pain is gone but because it’s just not as bad. Still all this pain and he was sent home with a pretty potent pain medication. I think the car drive was mostly out of boredom. Now that he’s awake he can’t stand being idle but, pain keeps his activities low and grumpiness high.

It just so happened that Payton and his brother Lukas have been talking about me this summer and how I’m getting older and the day may be coming sooner than later that I may need their help at home. My mother has just this summer gotten to a point where she is needing more attention so the conversation has begun about me. Now, I don’t have anything going on health wise that we need to be preparing for but, once Payton moves out I’ll be here by myself. Lukas has moved to Charleston while attending Eastern Illinois University and therefore probably won’t return home to live for at least three years or may never return back to this house to live. He has no plans to return here other than to visit. But don’t worry Lukas, your dad has your bedroom all set up and ready should you change your mind!

What a turn of events. All the talk about me needing assistance and now Payton has gone down. I get to be his dad again for a week or two by attending to all of his needs. It’s a lot of up and down the stairs but I’m still up to the task of taking care of my own! It’s not wearing me out, I’m not falling short getting all of my other household chores tended to, and I’m up before Payton and staying awake at night until I know he’s out for the night. He’s twenty years old now and I’m needed to take care of him again just as I did ten years ago. I’m still up to it and enjoy being needed once again. Just when I thought all was lost and I’d outlived my purpose, boom. I’m still in the game. Other parents with children older than mine warned me of this day. “Trust us, as long as you live your children will need you at some point in time.” I’ve just found out they were right.

Of course I’m not pleased that Payton needed his gallbladder removed. But if this was my test to see if I could still do it, I think I passed and my son definitely thinks I have. He thanks me every time I do something else for him. It’s welcome praise but certainly not something I expect or would be disappointed if he didn’t, after all he didn’t ask if he wanted to be born into this world. Should this world continue on its present course of decline I may live long enough to regret that their mother and I did bring them into it. Oops! I slipped a political opinion in, sorry!

It’s coincidental that this surgery has come about at the same time my mother has declined some. My siblings and I have finally had a need to gather together and discuss a plan or plans. It’s not predictable just yet what path we will need to take with mom. Our goal is to do whatever we have to so she can stay in her home, the family home. Speaking of which, what do we do with the home my grandparents built for our family new in 1960 if mom needs to move to a nursing facility or she passes? We don’t have those answers yet and all of us have avoided this conversation for many years when we probably should have talked. Mom has always been the family rock, the patriarch, all of us could have leaned on for anything we needed…until now.

It boggles my mind how quickly I can go from feeling like a strong adult that made my way in a difficult world, in a difficult profession, to feeling like a little kid again when I watch my own mother failing. I thought I was strong enough and well prepared for this moment in mom’s life but, I’m not. I leave her house and go to my own and sometimes I cry like a little kid that just suffered a bad scrape on my knee. Something I can’t fix? Never. But I can’t and I can’t make it change course. How many things have happened in your life that needed fixed or changed that you couldn’t accomplish? Those of you that have been where we are now know this helpless feeling. Those of you that haven’t experienced it yet; talk about it early even if it isn’t time to make a plan. Talking about it with my siblings earlier would have made coping with it now easier for me.

Much has happened in my life this summer. Too much, too fast, and too soon. I’ll not forget the summer of 2021 for some time. But I’m moving forward and looking forward to good things ahead. I’m old but not so old that I need to call it a life, all done, game over. Nope. I’ve been eating better, working on my physical self much more, and my mood is positive. Retire? Not me. When I’m home for more than two days in a row I get restless and need to go. I took in an episode of Ancient Aliens tonight so I’m all wound up and believing we all have just started our first phase of many more in our simple existence! Now I’m off to bed to watch yet another Star Wars movie! I’m feeling the force with me! LOL!

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