There are thresholds you cross on your way to adulthood: At 18, you can vote. At 21, you can drink. At 35, you can run for President of the United States. For me, calling my aunts and uncles and telling them that my dad was in the hospital was one of those moments.
I called my dad’s brother first. I had never called an aunt or uncle before, and my aunt, who answered the phone, knew immediately there was a problem. There’s something to be said for the experience that age brings during a crisis; she handled the news like a pro.
She offered to call other relatives, and a phone tree naturally emerged. I was grateful not to have to repeat myself endlessly. The truth was, I didn’t know much; and my mom didn’t want me to say much. I delivered the base truth: Dad was headed into surgery, and the outcome was uncertain.
My sister, who is 4 years older than me and, at the time, lived across the street from the hospital, finally showed up late in the day. My husband, who had bailed on a business trip and flown in to help as needed, got there before she did.
She brought bagels for everyone, but she also brought my 2-year-old niece, which meant we took turns babysitting because children were not allowed in the ICU. Since we were kids ourselves, my sister and I have rarely seen eye to eye, and her actions that day, as usual, stumped me.
In retrospect, I crossed another threshold that day, when I became the “older” sibling.
BrightStar Care is honored to feature Leah’s unique story, an experience shared by many adult children as their parents grow older and caregiving roles begin to reverse. Follow Leah’s journey here.
All names, including the author’s, have been changed to protect identities, and Leah has no affiliation with BrightStar Care.