Saturday, July 25, 2009

Parental Units

There have been all sorts of happenings in our parents' lives this past week and we've been spending a lot of time thinking about them and chatting on the phone and whatnot with them. Rob's mom had a routine colonoscopy (last week I think?) and they found a cancerous mass. They whisked her off to the hospital on Monday for surgery and things seem to be going well now. She went home at the end of the week and is now gingerly up and about, apparently on the road to an uncomplicated recovery. The pathology came back on her cancer and that also appears to be excellent news, with no spreading or anything. It seems that they caught it at a stage where it is easily dealt with, so lesson learned for us all-- don't avoid all the recommended cancer screenings. The outlook is now very positive, but it has still been a week of concern and uncertainty here for us far away from them in their sunny California town, and I'm certain a lot more intense feelings for them as they deal with a dramatic diagnosis and major surgery and all that out of the blue. And right after her birthday, the unlucky woman. She had to go into the hospital for her surgery the day after her birthday so she spent the day not eating and taking the medications to prepare for it. Fun, right?

My parents' week was also eventful. My dad (who's an electrical engineer) has been out of work since January, his job having fallen victim to this recession we keep hearing so much about. Getting laid off was totally unexpected to him (and thus all of us of course) and wow, did the current economic climate seem PERSONAL all of the sudden. The past months have been full of ups and downs and a lot of mental processing for my parents; like with anyone you love, I just wanted it to be FIXED and for them to be happy and secure. Their original goal was to stay in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area; they moved here when my mom was pregnant with me, lo these many years ago, and this has been Home with a capital H for them. They are in a house they planned to retire in and felt settled-- profoundly, comfortably settled. The first months of his job search were spent with changing location not an option, but as the months have passed, his severance has run out, and the initial mad flurry of job possibilities have settled into the quiet of this recession's hiring scarcity, they have become faced with moving seeming more of a necessity. One of the companies that made my dad an offer earlier in the year came back to him recently to see if they could convince him to be interested (in a job he would be really excited about, fortunately) and thus, my parents are now confronted with the very real possibility of moving to Chicago.

There is an opportunity for us all to go, "Hmm, life's funny," because they actually moved FROM Chicago to Ft. Worth in 1978 and this process has been complicated by the fact that they did not enjoy their couple of years in Chicago back then. Thirty-plus years changes a city, of course, and their life situation has definitely changed as they are no longer fresh out of grad school in their first "real" jobs. Anyway, they spent a good bit of this past week up in Chicago, letting the company bring them up to visit and see the part of town where they would work and live. We spent Saturday with them after they returned and their stress and heartache are nearly palpable. They are confronting a huge life change that is unplanned for and unwanted-- they're confronting it with much grace and acceptance, I must add, but also with sadness for what they thought the rest of their life was going to look like. I wish I could somehow transfer some of my own wanderlust and glee at the idea of moving to their melancholy hearts, but no, they are the ones who will likely have to go, lukewarm to the idea or not. It is certainly backwards from all our expectations, as we ALL expected that Rob and I would be the ones to move away from Dallas and leave my parents behind. From the depths of my own selfishness, I feel disgruntled because their presence here was always #1 on the list of things I like about living in Dallas. I guess that how very affordable everything is gets the top place now?

While they were there in Chicago, they looked at a dozen houses or so with a realtor, just to get an idea of what the neighborhoods are like and "try on" what life might be like there. I am really glad they got to do this, and one reason is because they found this house online. They did not actually go to see this house in person, just to clarify, but seeing the pictures was enough. Go ahead, go click on the link and look at the pictures. The exterior looks cute, right? Keep going. Having bought houses twice and sold once in the past 5 years, I just cannot get over those pictures. I am giggling again that someone actually PUT THOSE PICTURES ON THE INTERNET. "Not your typical Betty Crocker home", indeed! And then it makes me a little sad to think about a person actually living like that.

Rob and I were talking last night about how explaining all of this to Grace, even just a little bit, and seeing the situations through the eyes of a 3-year-old makes the anxiety/sadness/unease real to us as adults in a new way. A new way that feels a bit like someone has punched you in the gut. Rob prays with Grace during her bedtime routine and they have prayed for his mom this past week or so, causing her to ask, "Why does Garner have to go to the hospital?" Trying to explain the answer in a way that a 3-year-old will understand feels like a punch! To the gut! And hearing all of our real estate talk and our looking at possible houses for my parents caused her to ask, "Why are they talking about houses?" Another punch! Here's hoping that there is less dramatic stuff for us to have to explain to Grace next week.

1 comment:

Eva said...

Wow. Life gets intense sometimes and this seems to be one of those times for your families. It looks like there are very good chances that things will turn out well in the end, so I'll send all my good thoughts for that to happen.

An wow, I cannot believe the pictures of that house. I take it that they don't know that much about marketing.