The Step-Ladder Incident

One of the hardest things about living far away from family is the inability to be there at a moment’s notice when something happens.

My parents had a freak step-ladder accident last week that landed my mother in the hospital. My dad (who has no business even being on a step-ladder) was outside on said ladder, trying to trim a gardenia bush. He lost his balance and fell, knocking my mother, who was standing next to him, to the ground as well. He was ok, but she injured her back during the fall and ended up at the hospital.

My brother is the only one of us three kids who still lives in our hometown, and he called me with the news Monday night. My brother never calls me, so seeing his name on my phone was a huge signal to me that something had happened to Mom or Dad. I took a deep breath and answered.

Now, I don’t know if he knows this or not, but my brother is the person you want calling you when shit like this goes down. His voice was calm and positive, and he said “They’re ok, but Mom & Dad had a little adventure today…”

I can’t tell you how reassuring it was to hear the calmness in his voice. When you can’t be there for the people you love, you really depend on those who can be to keep you informed, and the no-drama way my brother delivered this information to me was incredibly helpful.

We learned, too, that our mother has suffered several “mini strokes” previously of which neither she nor any of us had any prior knowledge. She’s been struggling with short-term memory loss for a while now, and this could be a reason for that. Mostly, it’s just good that she was thoroughly checked out.

After two days in the hospital, she was discharged, and I think she’s following directions and resting and taking it easy. It’s hard to know, though, because I’m 3000 miles away and depending on others to keep me updated. I hate that because I’m a pretty proactive person, and unless I get on a plane and go, this is just how it is.

It sucks.

Having all of this occur over Thanksgiving week has forced me to look for the blessings in all of it. I’m thankful my brother is retired and able to go look after our parents. I’m thankful my father wasn’t injured in the fall. I’m thankful my mother was well-cared for at the hospital. And I’m thankful that if I need to get there, I have the means to do so.

I don’t really know what I’m getting at writing this post. I can tell you I live with a certain amount of guilt for moving so far away – especially when my divorce provided me a way to move back “home,” and I opted to maintain stability for my kids in their home. Life choices sometimes suck – especially when we love people who live in two different places. We never know what each day will bring, and we have to do our best to deal with what life throws at us as it comes.

I’m thankful that all it was this time was a step-ladder adventure.

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