I remember one day, in the year before her death, Mum had been put on medication that made her light-headed and she had a fall. I heard the thud and ran into the room, to see her lying on her back, staring dazedly up at me. Luckily, she was fine – she’d managed to catch onto something and seemed to have collapsed to rather than collided with the floor – but she couldn’t remember getting down there.
From that moment on, I worried about Mum in a way I’d never worried about anyone before. I’m not a parent and my nephews had not then been born. This was the first time that I did not feel confident that someone I deeply cared about would be alright out of my sight.
I had never worried about Dad because he is still very fit and strong.
In the almost two years since Mum died, Dad has had two incidents that have caused me severe stress. One time, he had a small fall off a ladder outside and, luckily, was able to get himself inside. He had a large, bloody wound in the back of his head and even went slightly faint. It was almost impossible to get him to consent to me ringing for medical advice, let alone take him to the doctor, and he then couldn’t be left alone for at least 24 hours. Another time, he had Transient Global Amnesia, a sudden and unexplained loss of memory that lasted for a number of hours. He remembered me, but couldn’t remember anything new from more than a few minutes ago and couldn’t remember details from as long ago as Mum’s death. It passed, he stayed in hospital for a few days having tests, and has never had a problem since.
The problem is that now I worry. Dad went to the footy on his own on the weekend. With no more likelihood of misfortune than when my sister or my friends go out and do things, I still found myself slightly anxious about his wellbeing. I knew that worrying would do no good, I knew that there was no reason he was especially vulnerable, but it didn’t help. This is how it is. He is 70 and a widower and I worry.
It occurred to me that this must be how parents feel about their kids most of the time. It occurred to me that this must be how parents of children with special needs feel about their kids all the time.
I don’t know how they stand that level of anxiety contstantly.