Sunday afternoon found me walking toward Inman Square from Union. The day was one of those days we New Englanders long for—sunny and in the 60s after a long, cold and snowy winter. Wearing a tee shirt and a light cotton sweater, I was bobbing my head and wearing a ridiculous grin on my face as I strolled. Yay! Winter won’t last forever!
I reached into my purse to grab my phone, as I thought I’d heard it ringing, and I saw that I had missed a call from my sister. My nephew’s first birthday was on Monday (my trip to Inman was to get his present), so I figured she had called about arrangements. I dialed called her back, and she answered.
“Hey, Sister! GORGEOUS day! Are you outside?”
“Um, Sassy, something’s happened. I just got off the phone with Mom. She thought she was dialing 911. Dad passed out while driving, and now he’s throwing up. I had to tell her how to get 911 where she was and then I called 911 too. Now she won’t pick up the phone.”
My heart sank.
My body started shaking.
Oh shit. My Dad is having a heart attack. I just talked to him this morning. How can he be dying?
“Oh my god. Dad’s having a heart attack,” I said to my sister.
“That’s what it sounds like to me, too,” she said.
Sister said, “I’m going to keep trying Mom, but I thought you should know.”
“OK. Call me if you hear anything. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I snapped the phone shut and turned around to head home. Then I turned back toward Inman. Then I turned back toward home. Then I turned around again and kept walking. You can hold it together if you keep walking. Just keep walking.
I kept walking.
Then I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I almost started to cry. Then I called again. This time she answered.
“Hi, Sassy. Yes. We’re in a snow field. The State Police are here, and so is an ambulance. We’re off 93 in Concord. Dad is conscious and talking, and he looks a little bit better. It might have been an issue with his blood sugar, but we don’t know. It doesn’t look like it was a heart attack, but we are going to Concord hospital. They won’t let me go with him. I have to get the car towed out of the snow field, and then I’m going to go. Pray. I have to go now, but keep calling. I’ll pick up.”
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, Honey.”
I called my sister. She’d talked to Mom too. We were both relieved that he was alive at this point, but we were trying to figure out what had happened.
“Sassy, Mom took the wheel. She steered the car through THREE LANES of traffic on I-93. She did donuts in a field until Dad came too and hit the brake. She didn’t know how to dial 911 on a cell phone.”
“Oh my god.” Then, “We need to get her some First-Aid training. What happened?”
“Did you know his blood sugar was an issue? I didn’t.”
“You didn’t? I did, but I thought he was controlling it.”
We talked some more about how to talk to Mom and Dad about how they need to take better care of themselves before it dawned on us that we should go visit them. I had a phone interview early that evening, and even though I said I’d cancel it, my sister insisted that I take it.
We wrapped up the call, and I said, “OK. I’ll call Mom and let her know we’ll be there this evening.” I went in the toy store to catch my breath. I bought Nephew a present and walked back outside. Then I called Mom.
“Things are OK, Sassy. Dad walked to the ambulance. That made me feel better. I’m still here with the car. I’m so glad you’re coming. Don’t skip your interview. My god, that whole thing was so scary. Sassy, I did DONUTS! I don’t know how I did that. Will you call the hospital? I don’t know what is going on with Daddy. They didn’t let me go in the ambulance—those movie scenes are bullshit. Will you call the hospital?”
I called the hospital, and they actually let me speak to Dad. He sounded weak, but he knew what was going on, and he sounded OK. “I think they’ve ruled out heart attack. My blood sugar might have dropped. Or it could have been a reaction to some medication. Mom saved my life, you know.”
“I know, Dad. I’m really happy to talk to you. Sister and I will be there tonight.”
I went to a coffee shop in Union Square and finished making my phone calls while sitting outside in the sun.
On my way home, I called Date to cancel our plans for the evening. He came over and hugged me before my interview. The woman blew me off, which was just as well, as I doubt I would have made much sense. My sister came with Nephew, and we headed to Concord to visit my Dad.
After two days in the hospital, where doctors ran every test in the book, it was determined that he needed a lower dose on his new blood-pressure medication. He got a stern talking-to about losing weight, but his blood sugar was actually OK. Everything else was OK. More terrifying details about my mother’s driving feat came out, but she’s OK too. The first night, she told my sister and I that she was going to go in her room and cry for an hour, but after that, she seemed better. We had Nephew’s first birthday party at the hospital.
My god. My nerves are shot, but I am so so so so so happy that I still have parents. I might complain about them a lot, but I love them. They are OK. So am I.