Today my mother called and asked if my husband and I could please meet her and my father in the emergency room at the Veteran's hospital as my 90-year-old uncle (her brother) was taken there. What I could do to help more than the emergency room staff was beyond me. But if my mother says she needs me, I go.
As I walked toward the emergency room, I could see my 85-year-old dad in the distance, leaning on a cane, watching for our arrival. I had never seen my dad use a cane before. After all, I just saw him last week and he wasn't using one. Then, there, sitting in the emergency room, I could see my mother. Her face looked full of worry. She looked exhausted. I could see she was somewhat relieved that we had arrived.
The four of us were escorted back to the room where they were caring for my uncle. I had not seen my uncle in almost a year. There he was laying down on a gurney. I also had never seen him laying down. A smile came over his face when he saw me. I didn't realize the impact it would have on him. But more so, I didn't realize the impact it would have on me. I got next to him and leaned over to give him a kiss on his cheek. I could see his face light up with joy that I came to show I cared. Then the doctor and assistant walked in. He introduced us all and with a proud look on his face said, "This is my family." I didn't immediately spot it, but my husband did. Since my husband's stroke this last February, he seems to be more aware of special moments on a daily basis. I was thankful he pointed this out to me because for awhile I kept thinking how my uncle is 90-years-old. He's had such a long life. He's been so fortunate to live this long. And in someway I was discounting the time he had left on earth.
Suddenly a feeling sprang from my heart that is indescribable. I wanted the nurse to know that, although my uncle was very old, he was still working, still creating, still thinking of new ideas. I wanted her to know he had received the purple heart for his time in the service. I wanted her to know he had so many ideas and inventions that he had contributed to his job at Westinghouse where he worked on the Polaris missile. I wanted to go on and on but I stopped there. But as I stood there looking at him, sometimes he'd smile, give me a quick wink, or a funny comment, so much more passed through my mind of the things he accomplished. They went over and over in my mind. The list was endless. I started thinking, wow...he seemed to live fully each day in his own way.
He lives alone, well not completely. He does have a dog which he loves dearly. It's his constant and only companion. He talks to that dog as if it were a human being...and for him it is. And I started thinking...not only did he accomplish so much with his hands, but the things he overcame with his mind and his heart. To keep himself busy on a daily basis with nobody else around just seems like such a difficult task for any human being. It's like being on a deserted island. But he never complained. He just kept creating, thinking, and growing beautiful flowers and vegetables. He happily shared them with anyone who came his way. In fact, in the hospital today, he reminded my mom that he had persimmons to give her when he gets back to his house. He was always looking forward not backwards. I don't know if he has ever stopped to think of all the accomplishments he had...I don't know if any of us ever have. We unknowingly took him for granted all these years.
I think, as time goes by, we easily do that...and then suddenly time just passed us by and we are in the emergency room with a 90-year-old man who loved dancing with his niece at the company Christmas parties...who made everyone laugh hysterically for days to follow a Julio Iglesias concert...and it remained in our memory for years after. He always had good intentions that were sometimes taken wrong or presented incorrectly....but again, they were good intentions.
So, I realized today, that maybe my mom needed me to be with her in the emergency room just to sit next to her. Or maybe God wanted me to be there to rethink some things about my uncle and appreciate that a person is still alive with a positive attitude at the age of 90. That he still has his act together about life and that although I'm 62 years old, there is still a lot of opportunity for creating, and thinking left in my life....on a daily basis...so that as time goes by, someone will be standing at the foot of my bed when I am 90 and be able to think of me just as I thought of my uncle today....
This was an emergency today, an emergency to appreciate....and to love all that was and is. I'll never forget today....never.