Happy 4th of July, Independence Day

English: The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra p...

English: The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra performing at the Hatch Shell in Boston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops

Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops via last.fm

When I was growing up, every 4th of July, my family would be glued to the television set to hear the Boston Pops and to watch the fireworks burst and boom on our television set. It was a tradition set in our middle-class red brick apartment building in Queens.

We were the last family in the neighborhood to get a color television set. I had already glimpsed the wonder after seeing The Wizard of Oz at my friend’s house and still remember the feeling of awe, not knowing there was color in the movie.

My parents finally bought a color tv during the Olympics after seeing Dorothy Hamill skate like a swan at our dear friend’s house.  I “worked” for Lore for many summers in her gourmet chocolate shop, oh, I KNEW my chocolates!  She sent me care packages in college, she spoiled me but most of all, she always understood me, my fellow Libra. I miss her every day.

My dad loved to watch soccer, he would yell and scream at the television enthusiastically, you could hear him shout from any room. He also loved watching any type of ceremony: parades, marching bands and all celebrations.

Yesterday, I talked to my best friend and after and we hung up, I reached for the phone to call my dad. I wasn’t feeling sad or morose, it just seemed natural until I remembered that he has been dead for a very long time.

Fireworks July 4th Independence Day 2013 Polo ...

Fireworks July 4th Independence Day 2013 Polo Field Fort Sill Oklahoma (24) (Photo credit: HiRez Dude Colin Henderson ch@cnhender.com)Today, July 3rd,

Sometimes, I will watch a show or listen to music that I know my dad would love, it makes me feel like we’re listening to it together.

A memory just popped into my head: the first bad heart attack my dad had, had been on Father’s Day when my son was 6 months old yet he refused to go to the hospital until I was so upset I started crying.  My mom and I took him to the Emergency Room. My father’s complexion was pasty and green and I remember he was sweating but he never clutched his heart, he just felt a little unwell.

After blood tests, the young, snippy doctor told him “he was a very, very sick man.” And, he was, he needed quadruple by-pass surgery which back then was definitely out of the ordinary.

My husband and I had a six month old son that I had never been away from but I was the one who stayed so I could help my mom and be near my dad.  I hate driving in the city but being with my dad was just too important than my own fears.

Luckily, my father was able to be transferred to the city for the complicated  operation and my mom and I waited in the hospital for 7 hours.  Saying good luck to my dad right before the operation, was one of the hardest, most gut wrenching things I have ever done and I know he felt the same way. Don’t let anyone tell you NOT to cry, it’s really okay.

It felt like a hammer was breaking my heart in pieces. Thank G-d it was a success and he lived many years after that.  It occurred to me today my dad was allowed to go home from the hospital on July 4th, Independence Day. I remember making a sign for him.

Mending a Broken Heart

Mending a Broken Heart (Photo credit: Free Grunge Textures – http://www.freestock.ca)

Certainly, it was a day to celebrate.

 

 

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Carry on Tuesday: Time will pass and seasons will come and go.

Trixie-a rescued kennel dog

Trixie-a rescued kennel dog (Photo credit: waycooldogs)

The Time In Between

How would you feel if you woke up one ordinary sunny morning and realized that you were now old? No, really, old. It wasn’t from a horror film or a nightmare but it was just realizing what you were seeing up close, really seeing in the mirror. It happened to me, from one night to the next and I was absolutely horrified. That couldn’t be me, could it? Really? Getting older is something I talk about with friends, in the abstract, I talk to people around the same age that I am or family members, but not seriously. Sure we all have some gentle fears for the future and the unknown but we can all relate to it. Any fears we have go away with our yoga class and deep breathing exercises.  Until the day, that one different day, months later, when you are not able to breathe and my heart felt pain all the time and those thoughts become wilder and it truly is alarming. My husband, Gary, called 911 and the ambulance came eventually. Oh, how I didn’t want that, all that fanfare, stretchers and backboards and people taking my pulse and giving me oxygen with the whole street outside, I hated it but I knew there was no choice, so I closed my eyes and with my wicked sense of humor, pretended to be dead.

When the doctor finally came in to see me in the Emergency Room and told me that my heart was perfect and that I had experienced a panic attack, I couldn’t decide if I was relieved or embarrassed at the diagnosis. All they did was hook me up to some oxygen and some sort of sedative and soon I was sleeping. When the doctor ( he looked about 14 ) said I was okay to leave he gave me a prescription for anxiety medication, little orange pills for when I felt this way again, which was probable,”for people your age” the young intern said cheerfully. He said “probable” not “possible” and “for people my age.” What the hell was that supposed to mean? Even though I was groggy, I hated him just for that.

It made me think alright, I guess I couldn’t deny any longer the little things that were happening to me. Like that I  had no hearing at all from my left ear, that my muscles had atrophied so much that when I walked up a flight of stairs I wheezed and clung to the stair rail and that when Bootsie, our dog passed we didn’t replace her and we had been such dog lovers because dogs became too much trouble for us.

Gary started sleeping next door in the “extra bedroom” because of his snoring and sleep apnea and after a while, I got over the loneliness and I really didn’t mind having a room all to myself. I  just stopped caring and this was easier for both of us. Time was whizzing by, seasons came and they left but the routines remained the same, it’s not as if they were traveling the world or doing exciting things, truly they were JUST the things we did every single day.

Wasn’t I just young? Wasn’t that just yesterday? First, playing on the street corners with my friends, then high school and college. Growing up to be independent and living on my own. Getting married and having the two joys of my life, our son and daughter, then they left us too. It all went in a circle but it kept spinning over and over again.I wore jeans and sneakers in college and I still wear them except now I need orthotics in my shoes. My pants are from the “mom” section and my daughter, when she comes to visit with me, rolls her eyes up in disgust.

Time passes, seasons come and go, people die and babies are born, things are fair and yes, unfair and we have no choice but to hang on for dear life. We need to choose to either fight fiercely for the ride or just give in. Today, Gary and I are going to the animal shelter, we have talked about it; we want to adopt a dog again, hopefully not a dog that needs to run around a lot but a dog that needs love, just like us. We will continue to live and fight, get out of bed and walk that dog, together, for however long we have. We’ll name her Trixie.

Carry on Tuesday – Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle what happens.

Cardiac ICU

Cardiac ICU (Photo credit: Sam Blackman)

It was Father’s Day, our baby was nine months old and my husband and I had driven from Massachusetts to my parents’ condo in upstate New York. It was our first Father’s Day with our son and after two and a half years of infertility treatment, nothing made us happier than spending time with our boy. I felt blessed that I had finally gotten pregnant and every night I thanked God for this beautiful boy. I had been dealing with shots and blood tests and sonograms and depression every single day and night for over two years.

We had eaten brunch altogether, my sister and her husband and kids had arrived as well, my father seemed unusually quiet. I felt something was wrong; all those times my mom had complained I was “over-sensitive” I was just good at picking up vibrations. My mother looked concerned. Finally, my dad admitted he wasn’t feeling well but refused to go to the doctor. He did not fall over with stabbing pains, he felt bad, his chest hurt but his skin color was not right, it was almost gray and that upset me the most.

We had always had a special bond and he wasn’t listening to my mother or anyone else. I knew, in my heart, in my gut, that something was very wrong. He said that he would drive to the hospital and my mother agreed but there was no way that was going to happen. He refused an ambulance. Finally, I was so upset that I burst into tears and begged, I begged him to let me drive him and my mom to the Emergency Room in Danbury. I sobbed, “Daddy, do it for me” and he said okay.

When we arrived his blood , an EKG administered and a very superior and obnoxious young resident came in and in clipped tones told him, “You are a very, very sick man.” My father was in complete denial and refused to believe him. Apparently he had suffered a major heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. We stayed until we were literally thrown out of the hospital and heard an announcement that my car was just about to be towed. We drove back to their condo not knowing what to do. I remember my mother saying “you saved his life.”

Life isn’t about what happens to YOU, not always, it’s about how you handle what happens when situations arise. It was very late, Sunday night. My husband had to go back to work in Massachusetts, my son was nine months old and we had never been separated. There was no offer from my sister and her husband and I knew my mother could not handle this alone. We had a family history of that. In my heart, I knew what needed to happen. It turned out that my in-laws took my son back to their house, my husband went back to our house and I stayed with my mother to help with my dad. At the time there seemed like there was no other choice. The next morning we found out that he had 90 percent blockage in five arteries. He was indeed, a very sick man.

They moved him to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and in a few days he had open heart surgery. I visited with my dad and had to say good-bye before they wheeled him to surgery and it’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I cried, I couldn’t stop myself and my father knew me too well, a tear slid down his cheek as well. My dad and I are so alike. My mom and I waited the entire day in the hospital, over six or seven hours, pacing the halls, waiting for his doctor to tell us the news. I couldn’t eat a bite of food all day. Seven hours later the surgeon came out and the news was great, he had gotten through the surgery and we could see him the next day. Imagine my shock, when the next day in ICU he was sitting up, shaved and wearing his glasses!

I never thought I could leave my son, my beloved first-born but sometimes, deep inside you, you know the right thing to do. I have never been sorry that I made that decision. My father lived through the operation and I remember he came home on July 4th, Independence Day.

That night I drove home in the dark, yelled “Hi “to my dear husband, dashed up the stairs and took my sleeping baby, now home, in my arms. I stood there, rocking him back and forth for a very long time.

Women experience different symptoms from men: check out this wonderful website: http://www.myheartsisters.org by Carolyn Thomas