Stroke Survivor Part 1: Time


I grew up listening to the bedtime story of The Three Southern Bears. Have you heard the story? Something about Goldilocks being naughty and runnin' out on her mamma and daddy and endin' up in some bears' house. She ate the grits and it was too hot. She ate the grits and they were too cold. She ate those grits and they were just right.

Mamma bear always said "Whah Ah Spah Someone In Mah Beyed. Yayus." (Yes has two syllables, y'all. Yayus.)

My mom has told me the Three Southern Bears story since I was forever. And I'm not young, y'all.

Time is funny. Time is a concept we can mock when we watch Dr. Who or listen to any of the Quantum Mechanic podcasts we subscribe to (just me, then?). But time is one of those concepts that is fluid until it isn't. One day Time catches up with you and it's not very kind. Time is that asswipe that stalks you and finds your weaknesses and then springs them on you when you're not ready.

But nobody is ever ready for this. Literally nobody.

My Dad has a PhD in Educational Technology. He taught me how to code when I was 12 yrs old on a Commodore 64. It's what inspired me to teach my daughter to code when she was 11. I knew she could do it because my Dad knew I could. My Dad is literally one of the smartest people I know, which is why this is so incredibly difficult.

Dad and his PhD

Dad and his PhD

My dad suffered three strokes last month; two on the left and one on the ride side of his brain. Because his insurance policy and location are not optimum, he waited ten full days before getting therapy and treatment. It pains me every time I think of this. My dad, the PhD, is re-learning to eat and stand and talk right now.

I don't want to share too much of his new now to you. It's HIS new now, not mine. But MY new now is one of humility and thanksgiving and lot of sadness. I'm trying to live the life I tell my children. "Label your emotions, name them, they're not you, you are experiencing them." I learned this from smart people and I've passed it on to my children. But following my own advice is difficult when your dad is trying to tell you a simple sentence and all the guessing in the world doesn't alleviate the frustration you both feel trying to understand each other.

This is what happens when Time becomes an asshole. I haven't really had to fight with Time yet. Time and I are only starting our long battle of wills. Time and my parents have been fighting on and off for decades and Time just took the pot.

Mom, Dad, Me in 197something

Mom, Dad, Me in 197something

Time knew my dad retired five months ago and finally moved to the place he's been aching to live in for nearly fifty years. Time drew a hand and Dad drew a hand and Time upped his bet and my dad upped his. 

And then Time called his bluff.

But Time didn't take into account my mom. My mom is a fucking saint. Right now she is fighting a fight I never want. And she does it with a smile. She is helping my dad, her husband of roughly six and a half billion years— I forget the actual year they were married, but it must be around the birth of the moon— to remember how to swallow and talk and walk. I watch her take care of him. I listen to her patience with him. She now leans over my dad with the compassion of a person who will do this seven hundred times a day, regardless of the task, and will do it again tomorrow. She even laughs with me at the absurdity of it all. I cry in the diner. She holds my hand. I can barely deal. She's dealing every day, and will do after I go back home. 

I briefly ponder moving into a house around the block. At least there's more sun here than in Seattle.

Oh, but it's not all terrible. Our sense of humor is in tact. In a classic Leslie way, I pointed to a random giant fake rooster visible outside the hospital window and said, "Now we know where they keep the giant cock." Even though my dad's face doesn't make expressions, he still busted in to a "smile" and said to my mom, "O n l y    o u r    d a u g h t e r," in his broken speech, but we caught it. "Hey! I learned it from you!" He shook his head and laughed.

Grand Canyon 1989

Grand Canyon 1989

This is why I came here. I am here because I can make my dad laugh. Because I can remind him about how he taught me to code and how I love my job coding now. Because sometimes we all need a good story about bears and escaping danger, even in a southern accent. Because the darkness is scary and because these people cleaned the food off my chin for years before I was able to and now it's my turn to return the favor.

I'm here because it was time to come home. 

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