My favourite childhood memory is when we'd get home late on a Saturday night and climb out of the vehicle only to be swept away by the beauty of the starry night sky. We'd all crane our necks heavenwards, suck in our breath and try to take it all in. It's a sight that never gets old.
Last night dearest one had barely gotten home from an intense work week when his mom phoned and said that his dad was having chest pain and was asking to go to the hospital. Dearest one has a handful of siblings who live closer to his parents than we do, (plus another handful who don't) but because dearest one is in the medical field he gets called first when there is a medical emergency. Makes sense. I'd rather call him than an electrician when I was sick, wouldn't you?
My father-in-law has had 3 open heart surgeries and a heart attack in the last 8 years. He wants no heroic measures if he has heart trouble again. He is 82 and knows his time could be up at any moment. He talks about that often, wondering what purpose God could have for him still. When we got there Dad said no to the ambulance, we could be at the hospital in the amount of time it would take to call and have one arrive. After everything was all said and done, the closest ambulance would have been twice as far away. It was one busy night at the local you-never-know-what's-going-to-walk-through-the door rural hospital. Their only ambulance was busy.
It was a quiet ride to the hospital, each of us lost in our own thoughts. Dad had given dearest one instructions before we left about some things he'd bought that day for several of our nephews. He was covering all his bases just in case he never made it home again. That upped the tension level. Mom told me on the way there that she had a heavy feeling in heart. My father-in-law is one of the chattiest people I know and he said narry a word. You know how when a house gets quiet, the children are usually in trouble; when a mom gets quiet you're usually in trouble. Well, when my father-in-law gets quiet, you know he's in trouble.
The sky was inky black last night. Mom and I sat in the back seat and I found comfort in seeing the Big Dipper out my window. I gazed up at it, wondering what a person thought while knowing this may be their last trip anywhere. I knew when Dad gripped the seat belt and pulled it away from his chest that he was in pain. We were all lost in our thoughts for the 25 minute ride. I was comforted by the sight of the Big Dipper. It made me grateful that no matter what happens in life, there are some things that stay the same. Watching the Big Dipper as we drove was like God reminding me that we are never alone, even in our lonliest moments.
Many hours later, armed with an extra supply of nitroglycerin, we were on our way back home. An angina attack behind him, Dad had some colour in his face again. We knew when we could hear him talking from the trauma room, talking so loud (he's deaf) we could make out every word, that he was feeling better. He came into the hospital in a wheelchair and walked out with his cane. At one point in the trauma room I looked down at his sock feet and couldn't resist the urge to see if he was ticklish. As I ran my finger over his socked foot he jumped a little and laughed. Then he told everyone within hearing distance (that would be the whole hospital) that I'd been checking to see if he was still alive. I won't live that down anytime soon.
We weren't in the car more than a minute when Dad was back to his usual, commenting- on-this-that-and-the-other, chatty self.
Along the way dearest one opened the moon roof on the car so Dad could see the starry sky.
I had been quietly gazing at Orion's Belt out my window since we'd left town.
Soon we were dropping his folks off at their house and making our way home.
One way or the other, ticklish feet or not, we're always making our way home.