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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Across, Again

The last 48 hours or so have been a challenge. During the extremely short phone conversations with my father, it became apparent that he was really struggling. Late Sunday night I received a note from a friend who was at the hospital that dad had mentioned that he needs me to come back and help him. Throughout the day on Monday I considered what I needed to do and it became clear that while his physical needs could be met by anyone, I was the one who could best help him with his emotional and mental needs. I also spoke with his nurse who agreed that he was pretty down and then had a long conversation with my dad's pastor who also agreed with the assessment. I spoke with dad Monday evening, (morning in CA) and when I asked how he was all he said was not good. Then I mentioned that I was thinking about coming and he said that would be good. He never asks me to come home so I knew this was serious.
I am not overly concerned about his ability to physically get better although the surgery he had was very serious and the healing process will be quite extensive. But I can tell that he's really overwhelmed by his circumstances. He's so weak that he doesn't see how he will get better and I think the reality of his being alone has hit him rather hard. This is the first time he has been sick since my mom died and I can only imagine what it feels like to face going home to an empty house after an ordeal like this. Yesterday, (25th of March) marked 8 years since my brother died and 11 months since my mom died. I don't care how tough you are...these things are hard.
So across the big pond I will go.  I got an amazing deal on a flight that will take me through London and straight into Los Angeles. Amazingly, the friends staying in our house in Palm Springs right now are going to be in LA Wednesday and will pick me up and drive me to my dad's, saving me a 2.5 hour drive once I land. And I have never seen the fare cheaper than what I got my last minute ticket for. I feel surrounded by peace in the midst of shifting my life for the next 3 weeks. I won't see my dad until Thursday morning CA time.
There are losses on this end for sure. I have two new Bible studies going that have been a lot of fun, a women's event on April 5 that will happen without me, a trip to Holland that will have to wait, and most significantly the farewell for our associate pastor who is moving with his family to Japan in May. And of course, my absence increases Doug's workload along with caring for Tanner by himself. But in the grand scheme of life, those are all manageable losses that I am actually already over. Not being present with my father during this difficult time is a loss that I can avoid. Every single person with whom I have had to cancel something has been overwhelming loving and supportive. Both the people I report to at church have said there's no question that I need to go. And of course, Doug has been great, not hesitating for a moment that I should go. I will miss him and the Tanner dog most of all.
When I spoke with my dad before I went to bed Tuesday night he sounded a bit better but is concerned about weak he is. It will be good to see and assess the situation first hand.
So yesterday was working at shifting our schedules and recalibrating the next 3 weeks. It's now 5.40 a.m. in Sweden. I leave for London at 11.50 Swedish time and land at LAX at 19.05 CA time. I am going to try to get to another hour of sleep. I'm glad I'm going even though I do wish sometimes I could be two places at once.
This photograph was taken last summer when he came to visit us. He has a ticket purchased for this summer and I am hopeful that in a few months time we will be enjoying the Swedish archipelago together once again. For now, it's my turn to be in California with him encouraging him on his road to recovery.
Thank you for your prayers and support. Caring for an aging parent is hard, wonderful, challenging and important. I'm so thankful that I have the means and the support to be able to do so even though it means making the trek one more time.