Traveling is a weary business. Especially when traipsing across time zones.
When you start in a rural area and end in a rural area, travel time is extended by the road time at either end.
We left Cooperstown around 12:30 PM and arrived in Bayeux around 1 PM the following day — which would have been 7 AM New York time.
A little walk, a little food, a little wine — and I was refreshed. When it got to be dinner time, my father didn’t join us because he wasn’t hungry. My sister stayed with him while the rest of us got some crepes.
The next day was to be our first day touring the Normandy beaches. I had gotten up early and been served a lovely tray of coffee in the lounge area downstairs. My sister joined me and we walked to a patisserie to buy some pastries. So far, everything was absolutely wonderful.
an hour or two later…
I was in our room when my brother pounded on the door.
“I need you,” he said, and we hastily followed him back to the room he shared with my father.
My father was laying on the bathroom floor, his face roughly the same color as his t-shirt — white — and damp.
“I saw him hanging onto the counter,” Peter said, “like he was going to pass out, so I helped him lie down and got you.”
Bud quickly sat on the only available seat — the stool — and elevated my father’s legs.
We got a pillow for under his head.
And we discussed what to do.
Last year, right about this time, my sister stayed with my father, heard a crash, and found him on the bathroom floor.
My brother had gotten more than one call from Lifeline after my father had fallen.
I had seen him near-collapse and called the nursing service we use for home care.
Each of us had seen our father like this before —
And therein lies the blessing.
While it was scary, it was not unfamiliar.
“I think it’s a syncopal episode,” one of us said.
I remembered the nurse telling me that one of the causes can be dehydration. Had he drank enough while we traveled? Probably not.
I ran downstairs and got a glass of orange juice. By the time I got back upstairs, his color was much improved. My father felt like he could sit up, so my husband and brother lifted him to a chair.
The episode passed. We had a reprieve. The rest of the trip went without incident.
He had a cardiology appointment when we got home. They interrogated his pacemaker and could tell that it hadn’t been a cardiac event. We had been correct in our assessment.
For one moment, I had visions of getting to know the French health care system — but because of my brother’s quick thinking to prevent a fall and our collective experiences with his syncopal episodes, we weathered that storm.
Sometimes, in the midst of a terrible situation, it’s hard to see the good.
And maybe the good is never really good, but becomes a relative goodness — one where you’re able to say a little thank you for a terrible thing that previously happened.