Sunday, January 4, 2009

When It Rains...

This is another post from my former pastor's sister, Beka Miles. Her mother, JoAnn Miles is hospitalized in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for complications that began with a colonoscopy just after Thanksgiving. She has just been moved from ICU to the Advanced Care floor in recent days. JoAnn's husband is a retired Methodist minister. Her son, John and her daughter, Beka are Methodist clergy, as are their spouses. Beka and her husband, Len, live in Fort Worth with their two daughters, ages 8 and 10. They are very much members of the Sandwich Generation! Here are some of Beka's thoughts from recent posts.

Len, the girls and I will be heading home to Ft. Worth tomorrow after a stop in Little Rock for a belated Christmas brunch with Len’s family. I came to Hot Springs to help coordinate health care 6 weeks ago Sunday. Save for two short trips home, I’ve been in Hot Springs ever since. Fortunately Len and the girls were able to be here for 6 days over Thanksgiving and then for the last 11 days or so at Christmas. I hate to leave, but mom seems stable and I need to go home. Katherine – 8 years old – said at the table yesterday – in her Godfather voice – “I am going to drag you home if it’s the last thing I do! I’m going to take you home and then lock all the doors so you can’t leave.”

When we get home, we have to deal with the effects of the flooding from several weeks ago. When Len called -- way back when -- asking how to disinfect floors, it turned out that it was not just an overflowing toilet but a serious backup with sewer water standing several inches in my study. Len did a lot of work before he left and then hired a professional service to clean while we were gone. We will still need to replace the baseboards and perhaps some of the sheetrock. So, we’ll continue the process of getting the house back in order when we get home tomorrow. Only recently has Len begun to break the news about how serious the flooding was. I am so looking forward to getting back home, but dealing with the aftermath of a sewage flood is taking the edge off of my happy anticipation.

Over the Christmas break Len has been going back and forth some between Hot Springs and Little Rock to be with his folks. I’ve been waiting until I had permission to ask for prayers for Len’s parents - Pat and Lawson -- who live in Little Rock. Len’s mom has been in poor health, and a big part of Lawson’s life is focused on taking care of her and their home. He was sick a couple of weeks ago and then on Christmas Eve was hospitalized overnight for observation and to get IV’s to replenish him. He is having other doctors appointments this week and next. We ask your prayers for Lawson, Pat and their family. My mother and Len’s dad are the two “healthy” parents, and we have always expected that they would live a long time and have few health problems. They probably will both live a long time, but it has been a shock to have these two be ill.

There’s a story behind this. On Christmas Eve afternoon I was out shopping at the last minute for my Dad’s and Mom’s presents for family members (because Mom had not had a chance to do any shopping ahead of time. ICU is not set up for a satisfying shopping experience.) I was walking around a well-known discount store that that we do not even mention around my mom because she is offended by its less than stellar record on labor issues. (We refer to this chain as “the store that shall not be named.") We were very worried about Mom that day, and Dad had even gone out shopping that morning for a new white shirt so he would not embarrass Mom at her funeral if she were to die. (I’m not kidding you. He actually went shopping for a white funeral shirt on Christmas Eve – just in case.) So, I was in the store and was very much hoping that Mom wouldn’t die while I was there and come appear to offer me a word of peace from the other side of the Jordan.

There I was in the middle of the store worrying about Mom and trying to find appropriate presents. (I ended up getting everyone safety devises -- a not so indirect reflection of my fears for Mom). And I was also trying to get some groceries that would approximate Mom’s Christmas Eve menu. Suddenly, it hit me that I didn’t know how to make her Christmas Eve boiled custard or her gumbo, and that if she crossed over the river Jordan before regaining full consciousness I might never know how to make her boiled custard and gumbo (unless of course that was the word she would give me if she appeared to me from the other side. But she would never give me her boiled custard recipe if she found me in “the store that shall not be named.”)

So, in the middle of "the store that shall not be named," naturally I start weeping and was absolutely beside myself. I did what I always do when I am beside myself – I called Len. “Len please come back. I need you. Boo hoo. Boo hoo.” Len didn’t say, “I’ll be right there darling.” He said, “Well . . . there are some things I need to take care of here.” I’m thinking -- “Things you need to take care of? What could trump my falling apart at the store that shall not be named because of the boiled custard?” Fifteen minutes later I decided to call Len back because he had evidently not understood the gravity of my situation. For the sake of dramatic emphasis, I said to him, “For God’s sake Len, unless somebody there is having a heart attack, please come home! Boo hoo.
Boo hoo.”
There was a long pause and then Len said in slow, Len-like fashion, “Well . . . they don’t know if it’s a heart attack or something else.” It turns out that Len was at the emergency room with his father who was having tests and who would later be admitted for the night!

To my credit, I immediately sobered up, put away childish things and said, “You stay there, Len. Don’t leave.” He did leave after awhile and came to Hot Springs for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then drove back to Little Rock Christmas Day to spend the night with his folks, so his dad would have a chance to rest. (Len’s dad did not have a heart attack, and they released him the next day.) It looks like Lawson will be okay.

Len and Beka have returned to Ft. Worth for now, and their girls are very glad. Their 8-year-old said, "We were very polite at Mamma's and PawPaw's." Yesterday, Beka was sitting in her mother's hospital room, trying to decipher what she thought was "Watch out!" but was actually "Washcloth." Mamma JoAnn wanted to wash her face! Tonight, she and her daughters have had an early bath and put on pj's to get into bed and read. I'm sure it feels good to be home... sewage problems and all.

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