Friday, June 01, 2007

Reunited...and It Really Does Feel So Good

Wednesday was reunion day for two families, and it just couldn't have been a better day or brought me bigger smiles than the ones that keep sneaking onto my face.

Reunion number one: my Dad came to visit. My Dad, who is 82, wasn't really my tightest parental connection for the longest time -- that bond formed a long, long time ago with my Mom. Dad and I loved each other dearly, but we never really talked about much more than current events in our lives and the world, technology, accounting and auditing (hey, we like it!) and such -- he was the guy who answered the phone, talked with me briefly enough to let me know he loved me and was happy to hear from me before passing the phone to my Mom. But when my Mom died two years ago this June, Dad and I made sure we weren't going to take a minute of our time together for granted. We've managed to see each other at least three times a year since then, and talk on the phone several times each week. And I feel very, very blessed to have this time with him, for it's given us the chance to really get to know each other far beyond our interests. I've learned more about his feelings and experiences during these recent visits together than in all of the previous 42 years, and I've had the most wonderful opportunity to see just how much he has given me as both my biological and emotional father. There just aren't the words anywhere that can do justice to the even deeper bond I feel with him and how much I enjoy our time together.

This visit with Dad is even more special than the others. At the same time I was in the hospital last month doing battle with my infection, my Dad was hospitalized in Michigan. What was supposed to be a routine check-up with his cardiologist ended as a trip directly to the hospital, do not go home and do not stop to get clothes, reading material, or toiletries. An angiogram revealed blockage in three arteries, and on Monday, April 23, he underwent triple by-pass surgery. It was horribly hard to be so far away -- after I was told the Friday before Dad's surgery that I needed to be admitted to a hospital, I debated long and hard about flying to Michigan so I could at least be in the same hospital he was.

Thank god my intuition that this wasn't like my Mom's final days was right on the money. Not only did my Dad have a textbook surgery, he spent only one day in the ICU and recovered so well and quickly that he was released to go home, where he lives on his own, only four days after his four hour operation. (His doctor told him prior to the surgery that he would likely have to spend a week or two in a skilled nursing facility between his release from the hospital and his return to his own home and bed. This incredible recovery continues to amaze my brother and I (who clearly didn't inherit Dad's super power to heal) and his doctors: Dad got the okay to start driving and playing golf again two weeks post-surgery, and at the one month mark, his scar more healed (and straighter) than a similar 23 year old one that runs from my throat to my upper abdomen. Not too damn shabby for an old guy who's diabetic, hypertensive, has glaucoma, smoked two packs a day for more than 20 years, and has been overweight for years (but trimming down nicely now). I am just so proud of him and so very happy to have this time with him after such a horrible scare that I might lose him, too.

The same day Dad arrived we had reunion number 2. After 10 days of trying, we finally caught kitten Omai and were able to reunite her with her brother Kindle and her sister Ono. We had thought that Kindle was the runt of the litter because he was so small compared to Ono, but Omai is even tinier. She's so much smaller than the others that our vet told us he wouldn't spay any kitties that small from here on out -- it took a lot of effort to finally convince him that this really was the sister of the two kittens he took care of with no worries just a week before.

Omai is having a harder time with being separated from Mama than her siblings did. Mama seems to be having a harder time with letting these three go than she did when Clove and Pepper came in last summer. Omai stands in the top kitty bunk and cries out the screen for her Mama -- fortunately, Mama has moved in on the steps we built for pre-capture visits between Omai and her now-indoor littermates. Instead of sleeping in her nest in the bushes or spending her days hunting. Mama now naps on the top step so she's right up near her babies. Daddy Comet came by last night, too, so two families were all together again at the same time last night.

A final kitten update -- I actually got to hold Ono earlier this week! She was doing so well with being stroked that I decided to risk picking her up. After a bit of nervousness, she settled down on my chest and closed her eyes for 20 minutes of cuddling before making one of those adorable kitten stretches -- with the back arched and the little pink tongue curled up as she yawns -- before jumping gracefully back onto her bunk beds. What a difference getting them young makes -- I still can't hold Pepper of Clove, who were several months older than their triplet younger siblings when they were adopted into the Herd.

Here's to families, who should never be taken for granted.

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