48 Years…and Counting

Happy Anniversary to my parents. They have been married an amazing 48 years today!

Now, I’m not going to get all weepy about how my parents are the perfect couple and have the perfect relationship and I hope that someday that my husband and I can follow in their footsteps…well, except I kinda do.

You see, my parents are different than most. But they kinda need to be, because our lives are different than most.

My Dad has had heart problems for more than 20 years now. Calling 911 and seeing an ambulance at my parents’ house was nothing out of the ordinary. Dad’s been told by countless doctors that unless he changes his ways, his days are numbered. The doctors just happen to be wrong on that number, because it keeps going higher than they expected…so Dad has continued on his wayward path. It’s what we’ve come to expect.

Nothing could shake him…until last year. Let’s take a step back:

Shortly before Christmas 2009, my Mom had a cold that she couldn’t shake. So she went to the local clinic and was told that she should go have a sore in her mouth checked out by a specialist. The specialist got her in and took a biopsy of the sore. She had to go back for a more in-depth biopsy. And just a few days before Christmas we found out that my Mom had cancer.

But they had a plan.

Shortly after 2010 started, my Mom and Dad drove down to Omaha, Neb., to a specialist who decided that Mom’s cancer would best be treated by removing a portion of the roof of her mouth, along with any other tissue that he deemed necessary. And so it was scheduled.

Prior to her surgery, Mom had to have a whole bunch of tests done. They needed a baseline to go off of for subsequent testing. Mom was the opposite of Dad…where his medical records could fill a warehouse, Mom has very few. She had only been to the doctor a handful of times since my little sister had been born, and most of those visits were typical cold/viral illnesses. Not regular checkups. (And for reference point, my little sister just turned 30 this year.)

Long story short, my Dad ended up having an anxiety attack after my Mom’s surgery…which landed him in the hospital overnight. Did you know that anxiety attacks and heart attacks look and act very similar? I do. Now.

Mom’s cancer was removed, along with part of a tonsil and a couple dozen lymph nodes from her neck. She had none of the bad side effects, didn’t need to have therapy to re-learn to eat or talk, didn’t need to have chemo or radiation. The only thing she needed was to have a plate added to her dentures to cover the hole left on the roof of her mouth.

We were blessed.

And now, we’re facing a new battle.

Mom has macular degeneration. And she’s started treatment to have shots in her eye. We all thought it was simple cataracts. That’s what her regular eye doctor said this winter. And he told her to wait until he got back in May to have something done. But we convinced her to set up another appointment with a different doctor while waiting. Which led to a retina specialist. Which led to this new route for treatment.

Dad was cranky after the appointment. And did a little lashing out. But my sister found out what was truly the problem. He simply said:

“This isn’t supposed to happen to her.”

Yes, my Dad is a regular at the clinic, hospital, etc. My Mom is not. And in 48 years, my Dad has never worried that my Mom had anything wrong. She is his partner in everything they do: fishing, hunting, whatever it may be. And the thought of that changing has Dad scared. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

But I know my Mom, and she’ll persevere and she’ll tackle this newest complication the same as always. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I just want everyone to get along.” (My siblings will get a kick out of that last line. It’s Mom’s mantra – or maybe it’s mom-tra.)

And my Dad will be there with her…crabby, cranky and crying when she’s not looking. (My Dad’s a softy.)

After 48 years, neither cancer, nor bad heart, nor bad eyes can stand in the way.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

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