Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Sunrise

Until this year, the last time I was awake on Easter before sunrise was when I attended a sunrise service on the top of the mountain at Stowe ski resort in Vermont.  The service was very short because the pastor was an avid skier and was raring to ski down the mountain.  I had to ski down too, and that meant falling down every 10 feet because it was the only way I knew to stop.

This year I experienced a much different Easter sunrise.  More bruising, in a way, than falling all the way down a mountain, but filled with love.

The Wednesday before Easter I packed the kids in the car and we went to visit my parents at The Old Folks Home.  My husband was not able to come with us.  My Mom had unexpected gall bladder surgery on Tuesday.  I was to take over the care of my father when my brothers left town on Thursday.  My father has Parkinson’s Disease and severe arthritis.  My mother is his usual caretaker. 

Sadly, my Dad is in pain most of the time, and doesn’t sleep well.  Despite difficulty walking, he still walks whenever he can.  On Thursday, though, he was almost too exhausted to walk back to his apartment from the dining hall.

On Friday I made an executive decision to use the wheelchair liberally, and Dad didn't refuse.  In the evening he was much more alert than the previous night; he played charades with the kids, including him marching around pretending to be Louis XVI King of France, which provoked the kids to raucous laughter. I missed the part where he chopped off his own head, because I had to go cook dinner. 

That night he got up at about midnight to look for Encylopedia Volume 12.   He said, "I want to know who the ancestors of Mary Queen of Scots were, and it's driving me crazy."  I gave him his pain pills and convinced him to go back to bed without Volume 12. 
Saturday the doctor cleared my Mom to return to the apartment, and she arrived just before lunch.  Shortly after lunch, my father told her that he had a terrible toothache.  Mom called their dentist, not expecting any result on a Saturday.  By a miracle, the dentist was able to come within the hour to the Old Folks Home to see him.  As I left my worried mother in the apartment to take my Dad to the on-campus dentist’s office, I tried to offer her a word of comfort.  I said, “Try not to worry.  Everything is in God’s hands.”  But Mom was fed up.  She snapped, “Is God going to fix his teeth?”  I said, “No, but God has provided a dentist on Saturday afternoon of a holiday weekend right here on campus.”  Of course, we'd rather my Dad didn't have the tooth pain, but I thought the dentist miracle was a pretty good one.

The diagnosis: tooth abscess.  Solution:  root canal, and in the meantime antibiotics.  The only thing he could do for the pain was to add one more dose of his current pain meds. 

It was a relief to me when we finally got to bed Saturday night.  

At about 4 a.m. there was a loud noise from the bathroom.  Mom, despite her recent surgery, got up and she barked at Dad, “Are you all right?!  What ARE you doing?”  I did not get up to investigate.  But I got an idea of what happened because at 5 a.m. I had to get up and go through their bedroom to use the bathroom.  As I went in, my Dad shouted, “Be careful!”  Mom shouted, “The toilet seat fell off!”  Fairly amusing, actually, but it seemed rather tragic at that moment.

I did not sleep after that.  So when dawn came on Easter morning, I was awake but exhausted.  I wasn’t thinking at all about Easter triumph and glory.

At 6 a.m.  Dad got up and came into the living room where I was on the pull-out couch bed.  I gave him his pain pills but I could tell something still wasn’t right, so I folded up the bed and had him sit on the couch.  He was cold so I covered him with my blanket and sweatshirt.  He looked miserable, but he fell asleep sitting there.  At about 7:30 I gave him the rest of his truckload of pills.  About then Mom got up, and he told her that he had a new pain, in his lower abdomen. 

Mom seemed panicky, and called the nurse.  She said that while we were waiting for the nurse we could have the Easter worship service that I had suggested two days ago. 

So my ailing parents, my Jewish children, and I had an Easter worship service.  My son got out his French horn, he played and we sang Thine is the Glory.   Oldest Daughter read the story of the Women at the Tomb. I read Psalm 114 (you mountains that skip like rams), thinking as I was reading how far my parents are from skipping.  I was about to say, “Let us pray,” knowing that I would not be able to get through a prayer without many tears.

Just then the nurse knocked at the door.  The nurse’s last name was Paine. For real. Despite her name she was very compassionate.  She examined my Dad, and said there was no cause for alarm, that his pain was probably from the antibiotic.  We never resumed our Easter service.  The kids and I started our 5-hour drive home shortly after the nurse left. 

Most Easter services have brass instruments. Most Easter services have people in the congregation who are unsure what they believe about the resurrection story.  Most Easter services have people in the pews who are in pain.  Our Easter service was no exception.  I don’t know if it was acceptable worship in God’s eyes, but it was exactly what we needed.  We did not have pageantry, sermon, or prayer, but we had Love with us in the room.  Alleluia.

P.S.  Another miracle – the handy man fixed their toilet seat on Easter morning.
P.P.S.  My Dad had the root canal this Tuesday, and is recovering.


Joanie said...

Alleluia! He is risen indeed! Thank you for the details that you could not provide this morning. This morning was lovely, by the way, don't you think?

Common Household Mom said...

Joanie, the morning at your house meant a great deal to me. Thank you! It was lovely.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

You can't make this stuff up. Absolutely, truth is more interesting than fiction. And yes, absolutely, it was worship in God's eyes, the purest kind. Glad to hear your Dad's feeling better.

Cassi said...

My parents are in their 80's, and running into more and more health scares.

I'm glad you were able to make their Easter morning (and yours) memorable.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

This is going to sound crazy, but I just read this (an adjacent post showed up in my news feed but wasn't really there in reality). Still, it makes me wish I had known you then.
My dad also has Parkinson's.