Thursday, March 25, 2010

When my pet name reduces me to tears

I received a phone call several days ago that my father had fallen and was taken to a local hospital.

My father has not been well for some time now. It's not a specific illness, but rather a general sense of non well-being. A touch of high-blood pressure here, a fall there, a heart thing somewhere else. Over the past, say 10 years, he has been hospitalized on a number of occasions, most of the time for a couple of days and always returning home and back into the fabric of his life with relative ease.

But this time, the phone calls have had more of an urgent tone to them. Thank G-d he is stable. But he is not recovering as quickly, isn't cooperating at the hospital and according to my mom and siblings is at times disoriented.

Herein lies the obvious dilemma for someone like me. Some who made the decision to move thousands of miles away from aging parents.

I guess it doesn't really matter at what age you move to Israel. Even if you are young and your parents are fine, eventually we all age. And if your parents haven't followed you to Israel at some point you will have to deal with their aging from a distance.

It's hard to watch from the sidelines. I am lucky I have siblings who are there who can advocate and care for my parents, and I know it must be harder for them. Maybe they even wish they lived thousands of miles away. They are figuring out ways to be with my father as much as possible as they navigate their own lives. With the holiday looming, this means two days of my father possibly being alone if he is not released--and it does not seem likely at this point that he will be...

All I can do from here is worry. And feel guilty. And try not to annoy my siblings by being a know-it-all from far away.

When this started, Isaac told me I should consider "hopping over there for a few days". But that is not so simple. I know some people have the resources to fly in and out for a couple of days to check things out, but we don't. That, and everything that needs to be done to get ready for Pesach. I have to decide if it's a true emergency, if it's imperative that I am there. There will likely come a time when it is, but I'm thinking this isn't it.

But when I spoke to him and he said, in a weak voice, "Hello, Bailkaleh" using the pet name of my childhood, I have to wonder if I'm making the wrong call.

Because you never know.

My father's name is Moshe Ben Devora. He could use your prayers.


Anonymous said...

Baila, this is a heartbreaking post. I am so sorry you're going thru this. We had the opposite situation. We spent three years in the States when my father-in-law was sick. My husband flew there three times and (each for a week) and spent the entire week with him. This relieved his sibs there and allowed him to spend time with his father. My FIL died while we were still in teh states and I know my husband treasures the time he spent with him. We definitely did not have resourses to "hop" over to Israel (from the West Coast),but made the superhuman effort nontheless. Neither one of us regrets it. I only regret that we didn't bring over the entire family so my kids could see him.
Chag sameach,

Kat said...

Praying Baila, praying.

Go with your instincts on the flying out.

Robin said...

It's so hard sometimes to know what's the right decision. We commuted back and forth for about six months at one point but we were lucky to have had help. It's so hard to know what to do, and to be so far away.

My mother was very badly injured a few weeks ago and made the decision to come here for Pesach anyway because they'd promised to watch the kids for us while we went away. Had I known how bad off she really was (it's gotten worse the past few weeks) I never would have let them come, I look at her and can't believe she didn't cancel, and feel so horribly guilty about it. She should NEVER have gotten on a plane and traveled halfway across the world in her condition, and I just pray that it doesn't do any further damage.

Go if you need to, even if only for your own peace of mind. Pesach will take care of itself, people can and will step up to help.

I'll be holding you and your father close in my heart.

mother in israel said...

Aw, Baila. You expressed perfectly the conflict between caring for your growing family (including economic concerns) and your aging parents. May he have a refuah shlemah. I've often thought that I have it easier than my siblings, being here. But it doesn't mean that it's easy.

Unknown said...

We too are going through this now.

Indeed i increasingly ask what is more important, the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz or the mitzvah of kibut horim/grandparents.

It is not an easy call to make.

Hag sameach and thanks for anothe rbeautiful post.

Rachel said...

I feel your pain. We've ben through a few rounds of this, both in the States with parents a plane-ride a way, and since we've made aliya. The only advice I have to offer is that this is a time to make decisions with your heart, and not your head. The logistical issues will work themselves out, your friends and kids will rise to the occasion if need be.

Hope your father has a speedy and complete recovery. Chag Samech.

Leora said...

Thinking of you and your father. It's hard for those here, too - friends who are far away from their families, whether in Israel or (in one case) all the way in India.

Chag Sameach.

Commenter Abbi said...

Baila, this really choked me up. I wish him a refuah shleima and I hope you're able to truly enjoy the chag.

These decisions are really impossible, but I agree with Rachel to go with your heart. Everything else really does work out.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

this was such a touching, raw and real post. i'm sending so many good thoughts to you and yours. my mom who moved to the states for my dad's work, has been going through the same range of emotions and stress every time one of her parents in israel aren't well. the day-to-day might be an easier load, but the heart strings stay pulled. all my best, to all of you.

Baila said...

Thank you all for your thoughts and wishes.

Robin, I hope your mother is recovering, even with the difficult trip. Obviously seeing her grandchildren was so important to her that she wasn't willing to give it up.


Interesting, how you put it. And maybe a true dilemma if you're planning Aliya and a parent falls ill. But what of those that have been living here for a long time when their parents start to get ill? Are you supposed to move back to care for them?

Stephanie said...

you're making the wrong choice..go see your won't regret it.

Mrs. S. said...

Refuah shlaimah to your father. I hope everything works out well for you and for him.

May you and your family have a chag kasher v'samei'ach!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Baila, I hadn't realized tour father was poorly. I sincerely hope he'll recover soon.
Chag Sameach to you and your family.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear about your father, unfortunately as our parents age and don't always live near us it makes for a very difficult decision. All I can say is do what your heart tells you, life is short.

aliyah06 said...

I've been lurking and feeling badly for you....I know about the guilt. I have parents in California with serious, and getting more serious, medical issues.

My husband offered me some slight comfort. He told me that I can't do anything for them, and being right there won't make a difference. At least, at this point. The time may come when I have to travel back and help my brother. Please G-d, not soon.

I'm sorry for your loss. I know the proper thing is to say Blessed be he True Judge, but I have never thought condoling takes away from that. May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.