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  • Sue Hawley

When Father's Day almost doesn't happen

Sunday is Father’s Day. This year is different from most for me. Yes, we will gather as a family and eat, laugh at old stories, and enjoy the day. However, we came close to losing my hubby last week so the day feels more poignant for us all this year.

Last Thursday he was scheduled for oral surgery to take care of a tooth that had developed an abscess. He was at home, prepping for the procedure like the engineer that he is. He ironed a shirt, brushed his teeth, and took the prescribed antibiotic at the prescribed time. Minutes later he came stumbling into the kitchen, sweating and struggling to breathe. He had just enough breath to look at me and to gasp, "Something is wrong" before he collapsed against the counter and slowly slid to the floor in a crumpled heap.

I have personally never witnessed anything quite like what we faced and hope I never do again. I honestly thought he was going to leave this earth. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

I called 911 and a lifetime passed between my husband and I as we waited for the EMTs to arrive. A lifetime of ups and downs, petty arguments and small mercies, pain, love, children, hopes and dreams.

When they arrived, the EMTs quickly took in my accounting of the events leading up to my husband's collapse and then did the things they do best- which is everything they have the ability to do and more. They immediately found his blood pressure had dropped like a brick and began to sort that out. They assessed him for any injuries (his legs had taken the brunt of his fall but were fine), and then they got him into their ambulance. I'm not sure what went on back there but I do know after another lifetime of being parked in my driveway they emerged to say he was stable and they were taking him to the ER.

I went to grab my purse to follow them when they explained that, due to Covid, I would probably not be able to go into the ER with him. I was crushed and frustrated. It was horrible to imagine him alone in a hospital. Not knowing what lay ahead of us I began calling my children to prepare them for whatever was to come.

Thankfully, daughter number 3 decided that her dad wasn't going to be alone and hauled her butt downtown to the hospital. She can be a real force of nature when she wants to be! Unbeknownst to the EMTs, the hospital had recently changed the rules and one visitor per day was allowed to stay with a family member. She was able to be with him, keep track of any changes, and discuss things with the doctors and nurses. She asked all the questions I would have asked and checked in with me (home, alone) often.

Very quickly the staff realized my husband had experienced a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic- something he has used (as needed) his entire life! They were able to flush it out of his system via a lot of IVs and a lot of time. Due to his age and the severity of his reaction they chose to keep him overnight, just in case. We've been apart many times in our lives but this felt different. This time it was because of something completely unexpected and out of our control. He's had a stroke before, a decade ago, and the fear and shock of that event was forefront in my mind.

As he lay in the hospital I realized (again) just how important he is to our family. It isn’t as though I didn’t know this before, but having almost watched him die, I felt it down to my bones. He’s a wonderful grandpa and his grandkids love being with him. His grown children know they can rely on him for the millions of homeowner questions they each have and I depend on him for our partnership in life to continue. We've been together nearly 40 years. I want more time- more of the ups and downs, pettiness and kindness, hopes and dreams. Just because we're getting older doesn't mean we're not still living our lives, same as anyone else.

It was a close call. Life is fragile and imperfect, like a relationship. I appreciate and love him and our life together. I'm so glad he's the father to our children. Happy Father's Day, Jack.

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