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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stubborn Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree' is a saying that couldn't be truer when it comes to my dad and this little Honey-crisp. (Have you ever had a Honey-crisp apple? If not, do yourself a favor.)

How are we alike? Let me count the ways:  we're introverts, we love to read, and we're the best nap takers on this here side of the river. We're also practical, independent, stubborn and quiet; and with such endearing qualities as those, we're surprised that anyone married us.

Stoicism...another great quality I inherited. Not. A connotation of bravery, this word is simply a disguise for stubbornness!

I found out recently - after the fact - that my dad had major shoulder surgery. A three-hour surgery. I wasn’t surprised. This is his m.o. We find things out about him days later. His wife is under strict orders not to tell us anything, but somehow news leaks. She can't help it. And we forgive her.

I know my dad means well and doesn’t want us to worry, but mostly it’s because he doesn’t want to make a big deal and doesn't want to burden anyone.

I can relate.

When I was 7 months pregnant with Eric I woke up in the middle of the night with severe back pain and nausea. I knew something was wrong and if I wasn’t pregnant I might have tolerated it until morning. But what was I going to do, call my mom and wake her up? It was easier to just get in the car and go to the hospital. When I waddled in, hunched over and in obvious pain, the staff couldn’t believe I had driven myself, and one of them had to move my car from the emergency entrance. It turns out I had a kidney stone. I got myself a nice bed, IV antibiotics, an ultrasound to check on the baby, and by the time everyone was waking up the next morning I was on my merry way. (You’re welcome, Mom.)

Another time, when Eric was 8 or 9 and Larry and I were not yet married, I had an erratic heartbeat. Eric already had anxiety and didn’t need the added worry that something was wrong with his only parent, so I left him with Larry and drove myself to the hospital. I think we told Eric I was going to run an errand. After an EKG showed my heart was definitely skipping a beat, blood tests were run and I was found to have low potassium. After an IV, a shot and a prescription, I was home from my “errand.”

A couple of years ago I was bit by a dog at the shelter and needed stitches in my mouth. When I texted Larry that I was driving to the hospital, I should have figured he wasn’t just going to say, “Oh, okay, I’ll see you when you get home.”  But when he arrived with some yogurt I requested because I was feeling faint from hunger, and I realized the wait was going to be hours (eight, ultimately), I sent him home right away. There’s no point in BOTH of us waiting. Besides, the dogs needed to be fed and let out.

After surgery another time I got dropped off with some soup and crackers. I'll never forget Eric making his own sandwich for school the next morning. He was 5.  From my bed I heard, "Uh oh." Then silence. Then scurrying around. I hobbled out to the kitchen to find him using paper towels to wipe excess mustard off his bologna, the counter, the floor, the cat (kidding). By excess, of course, I mean the entire bottle. Somehow when he squeezed the bottle, the cap came off and the contents came out.  Everywhere.

Many of my "stoic" moments were from not having family in town after Eric was 4 and from being a single mom.  I didn't have a choice when Eric was 4 and I heard the sound of a barking seal in his room in the middle of the night. On the ground struggling to take a breath, he nodded yes when I asked if he wanted to go to the hospital. I was terrified that he'd stop breathing. In hindsight, why was I asking a 4-year-old what to do? Well, he was the only one there to ask! Thankfully (take note, first time parents), it's called croup and the breathing difficulty eased once his lungs hit cold weather, although the emergency room did give him medication.

So through a combination of life experiences and inheriting "not wanting to burden people" genes, I've learned to be strong, stoic, stubborn. Whatever you want to call it, it's annoying. 

Why is it annoying? Because when my husband hurts himself and wants me to go with him to Urgent Care and I say why can't you go by yourself and we get in a fight because I don't understand why he needs me to go with him because it's not like he's dying but he doesn't understand why I wouldn't go with him because that's what spouses do for each other even if it is just a paper cut or at least that what it seems like to me and after retrospect I figure out that just because I don't care if I go to the hospital by myself and always have doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't care if he goes by himself...that's why it's annoying. Because I don't want to be like that. Just because I'm a certain way doesn't mean it's right.

Dad, I get it. I really do. I get that we don't need to know when you visit the emergency room for something "minor" - a definition which is itself debatable. But if you ever need heart surgery or brain surgery, do you think you could let us know? Ahead of time?


Love, Your favorite apple

P.S. Between both of my parents, the stubborn-stoicism gene was bound to find me. After all, my mom gave birth to all 11 pounds, 3 ounces of me without an epidural. And a few years ago she fell down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night, severely breaking her leg. Not wanting to bother anyone and in denial about a possible fracture, she waited until the morning before calling my brother. She probably would have driven herself to the hospital had she not lived on the 5th floor and the elevator been broken. Why didn't she call 911 immediately? I have no idea what she was thinking.

Oh wait. Yes I do. 


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