There are happy milestones and sad milestones, some you wait impatiently for and some you hope and pray you never experience. Dad is experiencing many of the latter and by association we are too. Today I was reminded of this yet again. When my cell phone rang this afternoon, I didn’t expect it to be dad. He very rarely uses the phone anymore. Unfortunately, when he does, he calls my cell. I say unfortunately because I get really lousy reception when I’m home and this afternoon I was at home. When he called, I could hear him but he couldn’t hear me very well. This is frustrating under the best of circumstances but today it was particularly so. I could hear the urgency in his voice. The more I said, ‘Dad, I can hear you’ and heard him respond, “hello, Sarah?” the more the urgency escalated. I thought I could hear tears too. Growing up I probably heard or saw dad cry, at most, half a dozen times, so it’s still a bit startling when this happens. By the time we had a good connection, I was sure he was crying. After spending some time talking with him, I was both saddened and relieved at the reason for his call. My mom’s birthday is coming up. He remembered she was having one but couldn’t remember when it was. He was afraid he’d missed it. Did you know you don’t just feel pain but you can hear it too? I heard it today in his voice. The pain of thinking he might have missed such an important thing to him. The pain of realizing he didn’t know if he had. The pain of worry he’d forget between now and when it actually happens. The pain of wanting so badly to do something special for her but not knowing how to accomplish that anymore. Dad has always loved my mom. Really, really loved my mom. He thinks she hung the moon. He’s incredibly grateful to her and for her. He’d be completely lost without her and he still does know that. When he called today, I knew this was all part of the ‘panic’ I could hear. He thought he’d missed her special day and he knows he may not have another opportunity to celebrate it with her.
“Dad, you’re good, you’ve got time. Do you want me to help you remember?”
“I have time? Yes, help me remember.”
I could feel his relief through the phone. It never crossed my mind that he would need help remembering or help implementing a plan to make her day special. This is one milestone I could have done without but it’s here so I’ll be thankful for the call that alerted me to it.