I was anxiously waiting for the plane to take off. My buzz was starting to kick in from the extra strong margarita I ordered earlier at the airport.
“What would you like my dear!?” the waitress asked me an hour ago.
“Something strong that’ll put me to sleep on the plane!” I said.
“Coming right up!” she said.
I drank two of those margaritas and felt great as I headed to my terminal.
Moments before the flight attendant gave her speech about turning off all electronical devices, my phone vibrated.
It was a text from my dad.
“He’s so cute,” I said out loud.
“Who!?” My boss, Brad, asked me.
“My dad,” I said. “He just sent me a text and asked if I was home yet. I just love him so much.”
I responded and he said, “Ok. Text me again if you think of it. Love you.”
And the first thing I did when I landed back in Indiana was tell my dad that I made it home safely.
He responded the next morning and we shared stories and advice about back pain. I was feeling sore and incredibly tired from my travels. I decided to take a nap when Coop went to sleep after lunch.
About 30 minutes into my nap, my phone rang. The vibrating sound woke me up. It was my step mom, Beth, calling.
It’s the middle of the day. No holidays. No birthdays. No big plans. I had just talked to dad earlier that morning…
Something didn’t feel right.
Beth’s voice was panicked on the other end. I could hear her talking to someone else in the background.
“Hello?” I said again.
“Ashley, it’s Beth!” She said. “Dad is having a heart attack!”
A giant knot formed in my stomach. I felt sick. My throat felt tight and my words seemed stuck.
“As in, right now?” I asked. “You’re with him and he’s having a heart attack right now?”
I heard her talking to the EMS and that’s when I heard my dad’s voice.
“Honey, I’ll be ok!” He said. I could hear the fear in his voice, but I somehow believed him. “I’ll be okay, honey.”
That’s when I started crying. I was barely awake and I couldn’t form a single thought.
Would this be the last time I heard his voice?
I can’t lose my dad.
I am supposed to see him next weekend.
We need to take another family beach vacation.
He needs to play catch with Coop.
He needs read the book I will publish one day.
He needs to keep being the first person to call me on the morning of my birthday.
I need more time.
We need more time….
Beth told me her plans and I walked downstairs to tell a Justin about dad.
Tears filled my eyes and I said, “Dad….” I paused, “My dad had a heart attack.”
He jumped up from the couch and wrapped me in his arms.
“I’m sorry, baby!” He said. “He will be ok! What do we need to do?”
We started packing up for our trip home. Thankfully most of my stuff was still packed from my work trip. I managed to get everything for Justin, Cooper, and myself in one bag.
We hit the road only to deal with a super whinny toddler and major traffic jam. My anixety was sky high and it was hard to catch my breathe. I went back and forth between crying and praying and yelling at my kid to please stop whinny.
Eventually, we stopped at a gas station. I let Coop get a dark chocolate candy bar and that kept him quiet. He actually seemed happier. We all seemed happier.
About that time, we got a text update saying dad had two stents put in and was in the ICU.
Once we got to the hospital (3.5 hours later), I felt so relived to see family. I was counting down the minutes until we could see dad. They only let 2 people in the room at a time.
I learned that dad was mowing the lawn right before his heart attack. He came inside because the heat was brutal and he had a hard time breathing.
He stared to feel pain down his left arm and that’s when dad knew he was having a heart attack. He went outside and asked my sister to call 9-11. I am so glad she was there to help make that phone call. My step mom arrived from the grocery store minutes after calling the EMS. Beth gave him asprin and tried to keep dad calm.
Walking into the room was a little tough because dad looked so exhausted. He had monitors hooked up to him on one side and fluids and medicine on the other side.
“We were coming home to see you next weekend dad,” I said. “You didn’t need to do all of this for a visit.”
I leaned down and kissed him. He laughed, but seemed weak.
I left that evening feeling optimistic about his recovering, but I would return the next morning to a different set of emotions.
Dad looked awful (no offense dad, I know you’re reading this)…
He was sleep deprived. He was weak from vomiting all night and morning. He was restless.
I watched as he tried to fall asleep, but couldn’t get comfortable. Everything hurt.
And my heart ached as I watched him toss, turn, and moan in pain.
We waited until the gift shop opened and bought him a beanie hat for his cold head. I didn’t want to wake dad up- he was finally resting well.
I leaned down and kissed his head then placed the hat next to the bed. I sent dad this picture of us and added a sweet text so he could remember we stopped by earlier that morning!
By the time we got home, Beth said dad was improving! She sent us a picture of dad sitting up, eating, and smiling – all while wearing that beanie we got him!
My heart felt so happy and full. I had been so anxious all day after seeing him in such bad shape.
All this time, I have kept thinking about the text dad sent me on the plane. He is always texting me and checking in about my travels and whereabouts.
As a mother, I finally understand that worry and anxiety about ensuring your child is safe.
Now it’s my time to make sure dad is safe. I’m the one texting him for updates about his whereabouts and progress. I’m the one worry about how’s sleeping, feeling, and progressing.
I’m happy to share that dad had another great day. He’s moved into a new unit, which is a good sign! He’s told me about his plans to stop smoking, eat better, and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. I’m gathering some of my favorite healthy recipes so I can make him a heart healthy snack and inspiration basket!
I told him we are doing a family 5k together this fall too!
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” dad said. “I’m just now walking down the hallway. The doctor said I can walk anywhere except out the double doors!”
I can’t thank you all enough for the love, support, and prayers for dad. We have truly felt all the love and prayers are being answered. Dad has a long journey ahead, but he’s in good spirits and has the best attitude.
I encourage you to follow my dad’s lead and check in on your loved ones often.
What types of text messages fill your phone?
What type of phone calls are you making?
How often are you calling your loved ones?
Why aren’t you making a bigger effort to share your precious time with the people you care about he most?
If you think about it, tell the special people in your life how much you love or even miss them.
Not tomorrow, but today. Right now.
I am so glad that my dad has taught me to always send those special messages.