Diary of a Homeschool Dad - Week 26
To say this week was all about family would be a massive understatement. I can't articulate how wide the emotional swings have been this week, but we have all certainly learned a thing or two about the importance of a strong faith and support system when life gets tough.
Sunday - We woke up in our hotel in North Carolina and watched our home church service on Mrs. Geographist's laptop. There was apparently some disagreement about whether or not we should show up to my uncle's home, so we respectfully kept our distance and decided to do some sightseeing while we were in town. We drove through Charlotte, taking in some of the local sporting locations such as the auto racing hall of fame as well as the local professional football and basketball team venues. There was even a line for a drive-through Covid vaccine that I very nearly wound up driving into. The weather was chilly and pretty drizzly, so while there weren't many opportunities to get outside, but towards dinner we couldn't resist a trip over to the nearby driving range for some fun and food. We also decided that, in lieu of staying in town Monday night, we'd go ahead and check out a day early to start heading for home.
Monday - My brother flew into town in the morning, and once he arrived at our hotel we loaded up our car and checked out. We spent the morning attending a private viewing with the family, followed by the graveside service shortly after lunch. Even in the cold, and in a city where my aunt only lived half of the year, the turnout was good and the service was beautifully done. After saying goodbye to everyone, my brother joined Mrs. Geo, Girly, and I for dinner near the airport before he went to catch his flight and we began our trip home. My mom had called to let us know that my dad wasn't in the best shape due to an esophageal tear they had located, but that they hoped to have him transferred to Houston's Texas Medical Center where he'd have access to specialists they just don't have in the hospital nearest to their home. By the time midnight rolled around we were already halfway through Alabama, and according to my hotel app it was too late to book anywhere to stay, so I handed the keys to my wife and caught a little shuteye to press on the rest of the way to Texas.
Tuesday - I woke up as Mrs. Geographist got us into Louisiana, so we stopped for gas and a stretch break, and I took over behind the wheel once again. At some point in time during the journey across I-10, I turned on the Groundhog Day celebration on my phone - my first time actually seeing the actual ceremony take place. The sun came up as we approached the Texas state line, and we headed for my parents' house to hopefully catch a nap before getting home a few hours earlier than originally scheduled. The reality of the day, however, turned out much differently than any plans we could've made. Barely an hour after falling asleep, my wife woke me up to say that the hospital had called my mom to come quickly. Not knowing all the details other than the fact that he'd been denied a transfer to Houston due to Covid issues, I decided to get showered and changed before following her. By the time Mrs. Geo dropped me off, things were obviously looking more dire than we'd imagined. A surgeon spoke with us to let us know the extent and nature of his problems, stating that he simply could not do the work the rest of the doctors needed for him to do. My dad's condition was quite unique, and with his laundry list of challenges he couldn't give him more than a 10% chance of surviving the surgery, let alone eventually leave the hospital. We urgently started asking everyone for prayer requests, my brother booked yet another flight to rush down to Texas, and my mom signed the forms to have them proceed with the surgery. After two of the longest hours I can remember, we finally got word that my dad was still with us. Not only that, but he had not had many of the complications they anticipated, including the "inevitable" heart failure they knew would happen. After three days of continually worsening news we saw this as an absolute miracle, and we left the ICU amazingly relieved and in high spirits. After having dinner together, I drove my mom back to Houston to pick up my brother at the airport, and they took me home where Mrs. Geo and Girly had already arrived hours before. Exhausted but optimistic, I went to bed and fell asleep quickly.
Wednesday - I got up early to hang out for a bit with Curly and Whirly, who I hadn't seen since Friday night, before school began. After the older two girls headed off to school, I got to watch Whirly hop on her bike for mom to show her how she'd learned to ride without training wheels while spending time with her grandparents. I then ran a few chores (an oil change for Girly's car and a trip to the vet to pick up our mutt) before heading back to my mom's house. After picking up lunch I joined the work already in progress, reaching out to various legal, insurance, and financial folks on behalf of my parents. I also managed to stay connected with my own job requests, mostly due to some amazing help from a great friend with whom I've worked for the past six years. It was a pretty interesting day, with just the three of us at the house spending so much time working so closely together for the first time since we were homeschooled. The updates on my dad continued to be positive, and we finished our day at a local seafood restaurant before I drove back home for the night.
Thursday - With my brother scheduled to go see my dad in the ICU, I stayed home for the day. This day's martial arts lesson was a little different for Whirly, because for the very first time her dad got to join her on the mat rather than just sitting off to the side. That's right, I put on my gi and started learning martial arts myself! After the girls finished school I got to take Curly to her piano lesson for the first time in several weeks. Once home I knocked out a few work requests and had dinner before meeting with my virtual discipleship group.
Friday - I hadn't done any yard work in a while, but even though my grass isn't growing much it was still necessary to get some edging done. After taking care of that, as well as a rush map request from work, I headed back to spend the day with my mom and brother. Along the way, I had a conference call with my realtor, loan officer, and Mrs. Geographist about our upcoming plans to start shopping for a new home. With my dad's improving numbers we all hoped to have a video chat with him, but the nurse kept telling us his energy was still low and he wasn't quite feeling up to it. When I left my house it was nearly 70 degrees and, silly me, I didn't check the weather to realize a drop in temps would encourage the use of a jacket. I arrived at my mom's house just over two hours later with the temperature hovering just below 50 degrees. Once all of the day's business had been taken care of, we headed over to meet the rest of my crew so that my younger two girls could spend a little time with their uncle, who they hadn't seen in a while. So we all had some good Texas barbecue before heading home.
Saturday - The weekend kicked off with a big day for Curly as we celebrated her birthday a few days early. The first activity of the day was a return to the basketball court, where her team had their first game after a two-week Covid quarantine. Mrs. Geo had taken her while Whirly and I went to martial arts for a make-up lesson for the Tuesday we'd missed, but as soon as I got out of class I saw the notification that they had won for the first time during the year, and Curly was a big contributor with her points providing the winning margin. My mom had dropped off my brother for his return flight home, and she got to our house at about the same time as my wife and daughter. We took some time to go through a bunch of old family photos before having Curly open up a few presents. At last it was time to head to the cinema, where we had rented out a theater for her birthday party. We had a great time watching the movie and then the kids had some fun running around the mall's green space before everyone got picked up. We even got to grab some burgers at a nearby restaurant with Mrs. Geo's sister and brother-in-law as well as a friend of Curly's and her mom. All told, it was a great day for the birthday girl!
If I had to pick a theme for the week, it would be gratitude. We're thankful for a beautiful life we were able to celebrate in spite of the sadness of losing her. We're thankful for friends and family who have poured out their prayers on our behalf, and for the blessing of God's healing touch. We're thankful for our daughter who has blessed our lives so much. It was a hard week in more ways than one, but we are continually reminded of how good we really do have it.