This Be The Verse…

“They #^<{ you up, your mum and dad/They may not mean to, but they do…”     [With apologies to Philip Larkin.  And my mum and dad.]

They say that a big part of growing up is becoming aware of one’s parents’ mortality.  Maybe this explains why I’m still kind of seventeen inside my head.  (That, and 1991 being the best year in the history of pop music.  See ya, 1967.)  I don’t think it ever really hit home for me until my mother passed.  I do have a vague memory of our neighbor popping round to check if my mum and I were OK when my dad was in hospital with his one of his heart attacks, when I was five.  There was a good film on at the time.  A Bond?  The Great Escape?  But Paw Broon’s apparent indestructibility became a Brown family in-joke soon enough.  The gag around the dinner table was that, by some cosmic prank, the poor sod would survive my apparently sturdier mother.  Turned out not to be so funny for either of them, I guess.

Some years later, when I was well into my teens, my dad experienced awful pains in his chest, and we had to call 999 (that’s olde English for 911, American chums).  This time, I was just about old enough to steel myself for the worst, but kept myself busy throwing myself into being the pushy patient advocate once the EMTs had arrived and we were crawling through the Edinburgh traffic to the hospital.  In the end, it wasn’t another coronary, but some sort of pain arising around the connection of the esophagus and the stomach.  I think.  We didn’t really talk about it much.  Which, apparently, is kind of the advised route.  One piece of advice I got from the resident psychologist while I was in hospital — when she wasn’t focused on trying to find as many real and imagined problems as possible, to keep herself occupied, and me on edge — was to let my daughter know that she could still, basically, expect me to be around for her in the same way, and for the same kind of length of time, as I would have been before the stroke.  I assume that this means we don’t discuss what would be the effect of another stroke, or the details of the aneurysms, which, by the math and the anticipated treatment, shouldn’t be an issue for the foreseeable future, in any event.

My dad still ended up being fairly active with me, teaching me to ride a bike, doing one-on-one rugby coaching, and playing soccer.  I’ve done the first of these with my daughter already, and one parenting tip I picked up from my dad was that, if you’re going to play soccer with your kid after a cardiac incident, you’ve got to get a reducer in early, so I guess we’ve got that covered, too.  Certainly, notwithstanding a tendency to anxiety in the face of less serious issues, my daughter has shown her usual resilience in the face of more serious problems.  We cut back a little on our Wednesday night/Thursday morning and weekend time together after I got home from the hospital, but we’re spending a bunch of time together this last week of the school’s winter vacation.  In fact, yesterday was our first full day back together, which, brilliantly, coincided with my angiograph follow-up (she waited in the waiting room; the follow-up went as per the previews, with the bonus news that the aneurysms are smooth — “Hey, girl.  I’m an aneurysm.  How you doin’?” — and therefore less likely to rupture), and Beth’s first day back at the office.  So, a bit of a demanding day.  Nevertheless, we got through it, making the appointment on time, getting home safely, tidying her room and making it safe for Stroke Dad, and eating three square meals.

In fact, she’s been a real trooper, taking on additional small chores without complaint.  I asked her about what differences she’s noticed having a Stroke Dad.  Not too much, apparently, though she does feel she has to take on a little more responsibility.  She’s certainly been good about offering to carry stuff, and is more responsive to instruction and requests to do chores.  At the same time, I’ve let her know that I don’t want her life to be materially different to that of a  ten-year old with a classic, No-Stroke Dad.  You know, just be better behaved.  Yeah, another reason to have a stroke, other than as a weight loss tool?  Better kid discipline.

Meanwhile, I’ve advised my new, out-patient, physical therapist that my goals, in addition to getting back to pre-stroke functionality generally, include, specifically, being able to get back to the YMCA for father-daughter table tennis and soccer.  Reducers and all.  I mean, I’m not ready for that much running.

Afterword:  Between writing and posting this entry, I walked my daughter to the subway to meet up with a friend for a trip to Creatures of Light at the AMNH.  We had a right old blether, and it seems like we’re right back into our pre-stroke relationship, with, perhaps, a little less rambunctiousness.  A voracious reader, she’s working through a book in which the lead character’s professor has a stroke.  My daughter tells me it’s rather well done, so I’m going to ask her to flag relevant pages with the Doctor Who post-its I got her as a stocking-filler, to get some insight into how she perceives things have gone down.  In exchange, I told her about my excitement at starting Laughing and Falling.  ‘Cos, y’know, Books are Fun-damental.

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3 thoughts on “This Be The Verse…

  1. God knows what we’ve done to Matthew!!
    Great to hear how you’re doing, maybe reading your blog will help correct Jim’s lackadaisical approach to his high blood pressure.
    All here in Paisley thinking of you and wish you continued progress in your recovery. xx

    1. Thanks, Marlene. Always good to hear from you all. And, I always get only the best impressions of young Matthew. Tell Jim from me that it’s not worth it, letting the BP monitoring slide. If he’s not seen it already, you may want to refer him to the post at to ram the point home.

  2. Dread to think what we’ve done to Matthew!
    Great to hear how you’re doing, maybe reading your blog will correct Jim’s lackadaisical approach to his high blood pressure.
    All here in Paisley routing for your continued recovery. xx

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