“Don’t panic, but Dad is in the hospital”, was the message I got on my Facebook inbox from my sister. I am looking at it, wondering if I should panic or not. I had just spent a week with him. I had flown over from Norway and arrived on a Wednesday in New York. We had spent the night in his apartment and then flown down together to Florida to visit my sister. We flew back to New York on Monday night and on Thursday, he drove me to the airport and before I knew it, I was back in Norway and back to work. Amazing what can be accomplished during a week.
Was there anything to worry about? Were there grounds for panic? Yes? No? I honestly don’t know. I can’t recall that he ever was in a hospital before. I can’t remember that there ever were any medical issues. Except him having back pains for … years? That’s why he always slept on the couch and not on the bed, right? He never mentioned anything and neither did my sister, except she did mention once, years ago about a colonoscopy. But we live and ocean apart. A few telephone calls a year. He hasn’t been to Norway since 1973? And I have tried to get over and see him once every few years. Except these last year’s where I’ve tried at least once a year. 2011 was an exception. My wife and I had been over in June. I promised I’d come over again in October. And I did.
Oh yes, he was sick once. He had the flu. Back when we lived in North Bellmore. I couldn’t have been more than 12-13 years old. I remember it, because he didn’t eat that week. The clue was to drink red wine. To rinse the body, he had said. I guess that’s why I remember it. This was more than three decades ago. So the bottom line is that the man has barely been sick during his 74 years of living. That should ring a bell, right? But when we had been in Florida it had been raining every day. So we spent most of the time in my sister’s apartment. We alternated between sitting inside with the air condition on and outside on the balcony where it was hot. That was enough to give me the beginnings of a cold. When I came back to Norway, I had a cold. And so did my father. Or at least I thought he did. But I am 47 and he is 74. That should make me able to handle it better.
But how much was he really out on the balcony? I haven’t seen my sister since 2008, and we had a lot of catching up to do. Was it just her and me alternating between the cold and the heat? And there were a few other factors on that Florida trip that I couldn’t really recall at the time. So here’s the deal. I’ll pretend not to panic, but before I am even closing down Facebook, I am googling the telephone number to the hospital.