Last Thursday, I received a call on my mobile, ‘caller unknown’. When I answered, I did not recognize the voice. It was only the “Bub, is that you?” that made it click in who was calling. Hearing my brother’s voice after, what has it been now, two years, it was like those dreaded calls in the middle of the night. Every cell of your being knows to stand at attention. Something not good is coming your way.
Yes, Bub is my nickname for my brother. When he was a baby, it was his first word and attempt at brother. The name stuck, though brotherhood had not. After more than dozens in the high plurals of attempts to be close, it just never was on his agenda. I threw in the towel, gave up the ghost, and all of the other related cliches. So when I heard his voice, I thought it was time to find out I have been orphaned.
Orphaned at my age is humorous, but when the last of the immediate family goes, there you are alone. It does not matter how many loved ones you have, significant other included. With family there is a different history and a different reality.
My or our father is in the hospital. I had been calling him for two weeks leaving messages on his machine. Sometimes, he just cannot make it to the machine in the number of rings before the machine gets it. The woman recording on his answering machine and I have shared a great deal by now. Some evenings, I would call repeatedly thinking he would eventually make it to the phone, but these weeks it did not happen. Finally, my brother called to let me know, because he happened to check the machine while getting things for ‘our’ father.
The timing was interesting. I had just messaged my nephew on Facebook asking if he knew where his grandfather was. He messaged back saying he had not heard anything other than he was having problems with his leg. It seems his father does not communicate much with him either. That must have set the wheel in motion, because an hour later, I received an e-mail from my brother and then the phone call.
They thought that my father had a stroke, but nothing shows on MRIs or CT Scans. The only clue is left sided weakness that is still unexplained. They have repeated the tests daily to look for differences, but have found none thus far.
For the first four days, my father was reportedly cranky and anti-social. Anyone who knows him, knows this is the antithesis of his normal self. On the fifth day, a young nurse came in to say “I am here to ‘draw’ blood” to which my father replied “I don’t see a red pen in your hand.” We had told him for years, if we could can his corn, we could wipe out the Iowa corn farmers. It is a good sign.