Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween . . .

Halloween, frankly, is a holiday that is "lost" on me. I don't think I am a "costume" person . . . but I always WAS a candy person. Maybe it was that I could never wear the skimpy little "fun" costumes (my mother, God love her, hand made all of our costumes for our entire childhood) or maybe it was because, as a "husky" (God curse the person who originated "husky") kid, I was relegated to "creatures" like cows, pumpkins, dragons, Smurfs and bears. I've certainly never really gotten in to the swing of Halloween as an adult.

Halloween, frankly, sort of hangs in infamy for me. It was seven long years ago today, you see, that Jess dropped me off at my apartment . . . late, late in the evening (and on her anniversary, I might add) . . . from having made a last minute trip to Groton with me earlier in the week when my father had his stroke.

I will never forget the day my father had his stroke - or the weeks and months that followed and the chaos that overcame my family in the transition.

I had gone in to work super early that Monday morning (6:00ish) to do some work for a "secret" client and my office phone rang. It was Mr. LaFrance - a known (and beloved) jokester/prankster - at the other end.

"Sean," he said. "You need to get home. Your father has had a stroke and it's not looking good."

My mind raced. Stroke? Father? How did he get my office number?

"Are you serious?" was all I could choke out.

"I'm very serious. Your mother is with him - in the ambulance - now. They are taking him to Cortland and she asked me to call and find you boys and get you home."

I started to cry. I was sure he was kidding. He HAD to be kidding.

I gathered myself, as best as I could. I told him that I would find my brothers and we would all be there as soon as we could. I hung up and freaked out for a few minutes. I didn't own a car in 2001. I didn't have any money in 2001 (budgeting is a strength my wife taught me) and I didn't enjoy flying in 2001 and - in the weeks after September 11th - just hopping on a flight was easier said than done. HOW WOULD I GET HOME? Would Mr. LaFrance come get me?

THANKFULLY, I assumed, Patrick lived in the DC suburbs. I'd call him and he'd come pick me up and we'd zip home (Patrick's lead foot makes me look like a grandmother driving on a Sunday afternoon). I called him. A few times. He eventually picked up. He'd been to a concert and was taking the day off. He asked the same questions I asked of Mr. LaFrance, said he'd get Joyell up and told me he'd see me at home.

But, but, but . . . I thought . . . you are supposed to be my ride. Best not to argue with Patrick. His emotions and brain are different than mine. Let him get home. He can be there in a few hours and help my mother. That was my main concern. I had already, sadly, resolved that the MOST important thing was to get one of us home should "that moment" come before we all got there.

I called Ryan. 20 times. He was in college and he, I am convinced, is a narcoleptic so I eventually had to call University security and have them go wake him up. I called my Aunt Chris. She gathered the family together, picked up Ryan (his college was down the street) and they rolled to Groton.

That left me. 90 minutes after having found out. Still sitting at my desk at work. My "secret" client was not getting the value of my services this particular morning. I did the only thing I could think to do . . . I called Jess.

Jess and I knew from strokes. Her father had had one a few months earlier and the two of us ran home together that day too. Patrick and I, sadly, flew home a few weeks later for his funeral. I was scared to even call her and scared to ask her for help. She was a great best friend that day. She dropped what she was doing and we met at the Metro and - to Groton we went.

For those who have never been through it . . . being far from home when stuff "goes down" is a painful process. You really, really wish that "they" would get off their butts and make that Star Trek "beam me up/down" technology real. You wish that you owned a private jet. You start thinking about the last time you saw your loved one and kissed them and told them you loved them. You vow to never go "that long" again in the future. You are anxious to figure out how to get out of town and yet - if you are me - you worry about what to pack and how long to pack for. It's a disaster for people with my brand of OCD.

Anywho - the point - it was 13 hours later when I completed the six hour trip from DC to Groton. My brothers had been there for several hours. My aunts and uncles had come and gone. My mother looked a wreck and my father, God love him too, was fine. He'd been moved from one hospital to another. He'd been examined and looked after and medicated and sedated and woken up and cathetered and IVed. He was sort of miffed that we all came home and he was apologetic that he was the reason for the trip and the chaos.

I was very, very relieved to be home. To be with my family. To have my father alive and "safe."

Anywho - we stayed for two more days. He was in the hospital all day Tuesday and we brought him home on Wednesday. We spent the afternoon and then loaded the car and headed back to DC.

My father's stroke was my second real "wake up call" about my weight (he was no where near as heavy as me and he had a stroke). The first, ironically, was when Mr. LaFrance had suffered a heart attack in the fall of 1995 (1996?) and my mother expressed concern and fear for me of I didn't figure something out and lose some weight.

I called a nutritionist on November 1, 2001 and started the journey that would eventually lead to my gastric bypass surgery.

Yep, I got home late that Halloween. Ate ALL the candy I had bought for the kids in my neighborhood and then, the next morning, decided to "get serious" about losing weight.

No comments: