The whole is greater than the sum of parts

On Tuesday while I was helping my mother sort tubs in the backyard, she was lamenting that her belly hurt. This is not an uncommon thing for Mom so we just soldiered on, but over the course of Wednesday the pain moved down so that her hip and leg were in horrible pain. She could barely walk by 6pm and Daddy had to help her from the car to the house when she got home from work. (As an aside, Perry asked if they were going to have to call paramedics to get her out of their very cluttered house and she vowed she would meet them on the porch even if it meant she had to crawl there or have Daddy carry her. Strangers weren't coming in her house.)

Today my father escorted her to the doctor's office where they discovered she has a pinched nerve in her leg. After getting Mom home, Daddy was tasked to retrieve her pain pills and other medications. The pharmacy down the street has been our pharmacy for the last 40 years or so (basically as long as they've been open) and everyone there knows my mother (she's like Norm on Cheers there). I don't think as many people recognize my father there, though, until tonight.

He was very anxious about getting Mom's pain pills as quickly as possible because she was in a lot of pain. I can't get it all straight because there were a lot of issues involved but my father took it out on at least two different pharmacies in the neighborhood. He was angry in particular that our local pharmacy didn't engage him as he came in and seemed content to ignore him in line. He was very fretful that Mom was at home in pain, he was trying to get these medications as quickly as possible and their lack of empathy wasn't helping. So he gave them a piece of his mind in the way only my father can.

I'm sure part of my father is stressed from his perceived powerlessness while seeing someone he cares about in pain. Megan has been having a lot of those same trials this week and I have seen that same look even when Rich hovers while I'm trying not to hurl in the dining room.

I think in many ways it's harder for the person who's not hurt. They want to help and lighten the load and not have to see their loved ones in pain. My mother has been a trooper through many physical ailments over the years. For most of her adult life she's had ear aches, belly aches, a bad thyroid which caused a paralyzed vocal chord, horrible teeth, breast cancer, breast reconstruction, congestive heart failure which necessitated a pacemaker and all the other things that come with age. For that same time period, my father has been the picture of health. He can't remember the last time he's ever thrown up (for my mother, her last time was Wednesday while at work). I have watched him do physical feats in the last few years that would strain those half his age. He was climbing the 30 foot tree in their front yard last week to cut it down himself. But I'm sure he would trade whatever he could just to see things be a little easier for Mom.

It's so frustrating to find a way to share the burdens that don't share easily. There are so many things that are harder for one person than the other but they're rarely the same things. Finding ways to help each other strengthens the partnership and the family. My mother was completely calm this evening if a bit uncomfortable. She's aware of her own limitations and her own body and has every faith in herself and Dad to get her through this latest hurdle. Dad was in good spirits, but I could see the worry in him as he felt helpless to do much other than fuss at the pharmacists on her behalf.

My father has always attested that if Mom had his strength she'd be dangerous. I just think the two of them together make a formidable team.