I have a new favorite band, HEM. I must be living in a cave or a barn or something, because I’m finding music that I love, that everyone else already knows about. If this title isn’t a familiar title to you, and you watch television, you’ll recognize it as music from a Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial. Whatever.
The past few weeks have been so, what, frustrating? Boring? I went into knee surgery on September 28, thinking I was walking out the door. But I came out on crutches, and am still on crutches, and will be through the rest of the year, most likely. My fingers, toes and eyeballs are crossed in hope that, after this Thursday, I can “officially” bear weight on my right leg, which means I can drive. Unofficially, I’ve been walking around my house most of the time and only doing the crutch thing when I go out, which hasn’t been that much. Did manage to hit a Switchfoot / Reliant K concert last Friday that was great.
This particular week, the first week of November, is not one of my favorites. On November 3, 2004, my daddy had a stroke. It was Wednesday, the day after the elections. He and mama were at the bowling alley, doing their league thing. They had just finished the first game. I don’t know what he bowled, but I think it was something in the low 200’s. He was always a good bowler. And if you think bowling isn’t a sport, give it a try. Especially if you have knee or back issues. You’ll find out. Anyway, daddy fell or something and someone recognized what was happening to him and called EMT. The got him to the hospital very quickly. Luckily they were at the bowling alley and not at home when this happened, because the bowling alley was about 10 miles closer to the hospital than home was. Last April during the Va Tech tragedy the media was set up at this same hospital. Every time I saw a report from Blacksburg, and saw the entrance to that hospital, my mind went back to November 3, 2004.
I think I mentioned earlier somewhere, that day at work was just nasty. I was assigned to two projects: one in system test, the other in heavy development. There were meetings throughout the day on the two projects. My code in system test was working just fine, thank you very much. But some of the other programmers were having trouble, and I kept receiving error reports to debug that were from other programmers’ code. One other programmer in particular. I was new to this system and development environment; she was a veteran; I was supposed to fix her errors, because she had so many other errors in so many other facets of the project that she didn’t have time to get to them all. Did I mention that error reports were to be cleared in 24 hours? So, in meetings on the project in system test, I was reporting on her errors and not on test results from my own code, because we hadn’t gotten to my code yet because hers kept crapping out. Somehow, I was responsible for that.
On to the development project meetings: where are you on task 23? Not there yet, working on system test errors. What about task 24? Not there yet, because I haven’t gotten to task 23 yet, because I’m working on system test errors. Did I mention that those errors weren’t mine?? I went through two of these meetings, the second one ended about 2:00 in the afternoon. My boss followed me back to my cubicle with a view. Man, did I have a view, the only thing that made going to work tolerable there towards the end. On a clear day I could look out of my 17th floor window, due north, and see Pilot Mountain, and farther in the distance, the Blue Ridge. Awesome. Anyway, boss follows me, I sit down, he stands at the window and tells me I have a problem. I ask him what problem is that? (I know of several, but which one is he wanting to discuss?) My problem, says boss, is that my priorities are not in order. I ask him about that, because I”m genuinely curious. His answer: my focus should be on development, which was something I really liked about what I did. I told him, honestly, that I would prefer that myself, but as long as he assigned me other programmers’ errors to correct, each having a 24-hour turn-around, I had to focus on those first. He told me no I wasn’t. I got really confused. So he told me that I had to figure out some way to do both simultaneously such that, all errors were corrected and development would move forward. I told him I had a headache, probably migraine, coming on and that I was going home. I packed up my laptop and my files and headed home around 2:30.
At 3:00 I walked in my front door at home. The phone was ringing. My daughter had just gotten home from school. She was reading the caller ID and asking me if she should answer the phone. I told her it was OK, so she picked up. I listened to her talking very calmly with someone about school, about her new horse. I dropped the laptop, files, coat, etc. as she said “Here’s my mom” and handed the phone to me. Silence on the other end. The my mom’s voice, screaming. “Daddy, stroke, bad, you and husband come now, don’t bring kids, hurry please.” I don’t remember what I did next. I must have called my hubby because he was there almost instantly. I think I told the kids to pack some stuff for spending the night w/ friends. I don’t remember what I told them, probably that Papa was sick, but not to worry. I called a couple of friends to come pick up the kids. I remember sending both kids off w/ their friends’ parents. I don’t remember packing anything for myself. We hit the road at 6:00 PM and walked into the hospital at 8:30. Found ICU and my mom. Daddy was awake, recognized hubby and me, but he couln’t say anything because of the ventilator. He would hold my hand and smile at me, and then push me away. He did that more than once. My mom interpreted; she’d seen that behavior from him before when he’d been really sick. She said it meant “I’m fine, you take care of you and husband and kids.” I think he did that a couple of times. I think we told him the kids were w/ their friends, and I think he indicated that was a good thing. My mom told him that we were going to stay until he went to sleep, and then go get some rest to be there the next day. He closed his eyes for a little bit, then sort-of peeked out of one of them to see if we had really left, like he was pretending to be asleep just to get us to go home. So we left the hospital and went to mama’s.
And the letting go began.