On A Wing and a Prayer


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Published: July 24th 2017
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"Nobody on earth can ever love you more than your parents".

Unfortunately Al & I had to return home on Saturday after hearing my father was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. It was a heck of a jolt to get that information on Friday. (For those of you who didn't get my two previous blogs due to a glitch, at the top left you can hit previous entry).

We spent the day making alternative flight arrangements, while my emotions were on a roller coaster. We had to get home quickly; time was of the essence.

Up until Thursday despite some ill health, he was still watching the Blue Jays and taking drives with the family including my cousin Glenn. I knew that something might happen when I was gone, but when you actually hear the words, it flattens you.

We managed to get a flight out Saturday morning, and upon check-in at Cancun, heard that our connecting flight was delayed by a few hours. I lost my composure a bit, and Nora (the airline rep) recognized my distress and she upgraded us from the back of the plane to business class so I could 'relax'. This meant we had no one in front of us and extra space and it included our food and drink. Their goodwill meant a lot.

I was able to get internet in flight to communicate with family, and I was hit with more news. It looked imminent that Dad was probably going to pass, but the Dr. would administer some meds that would prolong dad hopefully long enough for me to return. I have shed a lot of tears in my life, (over the sudden loss of my brother and over health issues with my child), but this was right up there. Then I got sucker-punched with an email from the airline that our connecting flight was cancelled. And no other flights were leaving for Ottawa due to an issue with either weather or the runway issue. Are you kidding me? I will do anything to make it dad...Please wait for me.

Al spoke to the steward and explained how we were trying to get home, and he communicated with the airline about our options. Thankfully while that was going on our friend Marth was working her fingers to the bone with the airline to get us home. Love ya Marth.

While all this was going on, a slideshow of my life with my father played out in my mind. I remember the ballgames growing up, the songs, the jokes, the life lessons, especially about always keeping your word. About racing dad with a calculator to see who could add up a page of numbers faster. (You know he won!) About loyalty, about friendship. About family ties. About hard work, (piling wood) about determination, about loss and love. About his great generosity. About seeing dad as not only a father but as a cherished grand-father. About all his fun birthdays (god that man loved his birthday - born on Canada Day!) I thought about all that I wanted to say to him. I wondered if dad thought that I had been a good daughter? Was he proud of me? I knew he did but funny how your mind works at a time like that.

I also wondered if dad was in pain. Was he scared? (I couldn't bear to think about that). I knew they had him well sedated, so I was hoping he was in a happy place reaching out to his son Bill, who we lost suddenly in 2010. Was dad's life playing like a slideshow too? Was he preparing to meet his parents, his siblings... Was he a little boy again playing with his siblings? Was he working at his sawmill, or was he taking a drive through the back roads watching for wild turkeys? Maybe he was thinking of mom and their first date! Maybe he was step-dancing in his altered medical state (like as if he had a few drinks? 😉 Maybe he was driving fast with his brothers like they once did as young fellows...Or he was at the horse races. Maybe he was savoring one last strawberry ice cream or a toasted tomato sandwich. One will never know. I choose to think that wherever he was, it was all sunshine & roses for him.

I took the time to write out what I wanted my sister Cindy to say to dad for me in case I didn't get there in time. That was the only time a sob escaped me. The poor passengers around me. I emailed my words to dad, and the family replied they'd make sure he got it.

We were shown such kindness on
the flight - I was glad no one was seated with us, and no one in front as I was a mess. My blouse was wet from tears, tissues were strewn about, and despite keeping my grief inside, there was little doubt I was under duress to those that saw me. The steward bought me cold cloths, and kept checking to see what we needed.

So once we de-planed, we grabbed our luggage, and had to take a 2 hour taxi ride from Newark NJ, to La Guardia in NYC during rush hour. The driver had an attitude about having to make the long haul to La Guardia in rush hour, and I shut him up by saying I was sorry for his pain but my dad was dying and I was rushing home for a final good-bye. Take that buddy. Someone was cruisin' for a bruisin' so he got off lucky.

Once at this airport, we were put on a different airline and they seemed to know about dad & so they moved us up to an earlier flight. We hadn't eaten all day, stopped at a burger spot, order 2 drinks and was about to order food, when I told Al maybe he should check in with the gate to make sure all is OK.

Just as I was about to sip a cold glass of wine and take a deep breath, Al comes rushing back saying that we have been moved up even earlier to the next flight which leaves at 7:20. And it's 7:00 now. OMG...Sweet Jaysus, Lord Love a Duck, Holy Camoly. Has this day not been crazy enough? Is someone testing my level of sanity? (If so I'm failing here). So no time to eat, let alone wet our whistle. Threw the money on the table and ran to the gate. It's like Al & I were in our own version of the John Candy/Steve Martin movie, "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" except this was Planes, Taxis & Planes...

We haul our sorry butts onto the plane & were seated at the back, and while passengers piled on, I spoke to the steward who was preparing coffee etc. I asked if there was internet on the plane and explained my situation. I looked like a disheveled wreck - 50 miles of bad highway. My make-up was streaked, I was rocking some really good raccoon eyes, and I had this red burnt skin under my eyes and nose from wiping away tears. "Scary looking" would be an understatement.

Right away the steward (Christian) took my hand. With tears in his eyes he told me that today was the 6 month anniversary of his father's death. He was wearing his dad's wedding band. So there we were two people united over our dads hugging it out at the back of the plane. (We got some strange looks from the passengers). That made me smile.

Let's just say he made sure to get us snacks and drinks right away, brought me Kleenex, tried to hook me up for the internet. And finally he told me that he wanted to buy Al & I a drink personally. I fought with him that we were very capable of taking care of that. So out he comes, swipes his card and pays for our drinks. Is this not one of the nicest gestures you have heard of on a plane? I have his contact information and have sent him an update email and a huge thank you. The airline will hear about this exceptional human being.

After landing in Toronto, we were on standby for Ottawa. We got home in the wee hours, and of course, we are the only ones waiting on our bag. It didn't make it. Least of my worries.

The kids stayed up to see us and to share hugs all around. There is no one like poppa (and nanna) to them...

We grabbed 4 hours of sleep and got on the road to see dad yesterday morning.

SUNDAY

*I made it. I got to see dad. He had improved a bit. He was still in critical care, and the prognosis is not great, but I got to see him, talk to him, rub his hand, rub his forehead and rub his feet. And he said a few words and tried to sing a few lines to some songs. He did pretty good on, "She'll Be Comin' Around the Mountain. I got him a ginger ale (his favorite) and after he sipped it, he said, "Good stuff". He brightened up when his sister Mae came in. So hard on her to see him like that. They've shared a life time of sibling love and admiration. A journey of seeing their siblings pass and taking comfort in still having each other. The loss of Dad will be tough for many. Dad brightened again when my cousin Glenn came in. Those two are as thick as thieves....Great companions (insert smile here). Thank you Glenn so much - I know what you'd be saying now. "We're all in this together"...xoxoxo

MONDAY

It is Monday morning and he was much more alert this morning and was singing a few lines to some Irish songs. I always knew he was strong, but wow, defying the odds that lad...

Life changes in a moment. Life is a gift. Sometimes we are so caught up with the rat race we don't always see the gift. I have always thought there was no one like my parents. I have always cherished them. I have been so proud of their long marriage despite the ups and downs and the curve balls that life threw at them. When a friend's parent would pass, my heart would literally break for them, because just the thought of losing my parents would cause a sharp pain in my heart. I am proud to say my parents are kind, compassionate caring people. They are 'good folk'. They are the mast to our ship.

I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that there are wonderful people out there who showed me such kindness on my journey home. It's funny how complete strangers can have such familiar souls.

And my own family is a gift. We are united, and we are strong, especially for mom who is a rock. And to all the extended family and friends...thank you. There is comfort in numbers. To Al - you never cease to amaze me. You are always there. My right-hand man. We know life is a rocky ride, but with you in the passenger (or driver's seat) we are good to go.

This trip did not turn out as we expected, but I look at the gift I got. The gift of a last goodbye. Not everyone gets that. We didn't get that with Bill. I'll take it, thank you very much.

Love to all, thanks for reading along. God bless you and yours. (And to those that know Eva Foran Mayer, you all are feeling what I'm feeling. A complete ache in our heart for such an amazing person. We can all learn some life lessons from Eva. I am proud to share the same DNA. This world is such a better place for having Eva in it.)

And happy birthday to my sweet friend Manon. You're always there for me...

Signing off...

A loving proud daughter.

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24th July 2017

Beautifully written Sally
I thank the good Lord for putting me here. Prayers work and we'll pray some more.
24th July 2017

On a Wing & A Prayer
We thank god the Lord put you here too for our selfish reasons Glenn! What a friendship you & dad (and mom) have enjoyed! Another gift..xo
25th July 2017

Sending Prayers
That has always been one of my biggest fears and concerns when travelling out of the country that someone will fall ill while I am away. My husband and I were called back from Playa in 2010 but we were not as fortunate as you and did not get the opportunity for a final goodbye when my Mother-in-law passed away. I can relate how stressful the flight and travel back to Ottawa was. We too were blessed with amazing caring people that felt compassion for our situation and helped in anyway they could, some just by extending some extra kindness. Leaving at the last minute does not give one the options of good connections and you take what you can get, so that also adds to the stress of flying home and not arriving before it's too late. It is a very emotional roller coaster ride we take down memory lane, reliving all the happy moments shared and hoping for one last time to tell them you love them...I am very happy you got that opportunity. This event in your life is something you will never forget and it was the most beautiful gift one could receive. Sending you prayers and you are in my thoughts. Take care.....
26th July 2017

There are no words...
I'm not usually short of words, but the loss/potential loss of a parent is something I find quite ineffable. Thank you so much for sharing this not so happy 'adventure' with us, and I'm so pleased you got time with your Dad.
26th July 2017

There Are No Words
How nice of you RENanDREW to take time to comment on my little old blog. And you are right - not all adventures are happy but so glad I am still on one...Thank you.
26th July 2017

Thinking of you
Hi Sal, Thank goodness that you are able to be with your father and your family. It must have been quite a shock to get the news and be so far away. Nice to hear that people helped you on your journey back home. I just flew in from Costa Rica last night. Hugs. Caroline
26th July 2017

Thinking of you...
Hi Caroline, it was a gift to be able to see him. Thanks for replying. Costa Rica! Wow how wonderful for you guys!!!
27th July 2017

Life changes in a moment. Life is a gift.
Everyone has the right to be happy. Sounds as if your Dad contributes a lot to the happiness of his family...and to you. Beautiful words Sal. On a wing and a prayer to get there...happy for you that you did so.
27th July 2017

Life Changes in a moment.
So well said Dave. These are the biggest moments in our life - so glad my journey with him ended well. *My Dad died Tuesday July 25th. We are having an Irish Wake to celebrate him today. Thanks for the lovely sentiment.

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