Thursday, October 21, 2010

The worst part about my career

"Al, Please call me ASAP.  Shelley."  This was the e-mail I got this afternoon from my sister.  Earlier, I had gotten a voice mail on my magic jack that I hadn't listened to.  I immediately listened to the message and heard my other sister telling me that Nanu, my grandfather, had collapsed in the hospital and was unconscious.  Every worst fear began racing through my head as I went home call Shelley.  Minutes felt like hours as the Magic Jack had to download a software update.  Finally, I got a connection.

"Is he alive?"  I didn't even bother to say hello.

"He's alive." I began to breathe again.  She told me that he had been having trouble breathing and collapsed when they were moving him for some tests.  At one point, they had to shock his heart.  They still don't know what's wrong with him, but he is stable.  He is better now than he was earlier today.  He's conscious and alert.

The scariest part for me today was when my sister told me that Nanu had asked for his girls - my aunts - to come to Phoenix.  My grandparents are absurdly secretive when it comes to medical issues.  They would often not tell their children about major surgery until it was over, so the children wouldn't worry.  When my parents moved to Phoenix a few years ago to be closer to my grandparents, they were allowed to know a bit more, but were often sworn to secrecy.  So, when I hear my grandfather wants to see his girls, I fear that he thinks it's almost over.

5 years ago, my Aunt Kathy was dying in the hospital from cancer.  I was in my first semester in law school.  The last weekend she was alive, my mother and sister flew up to Omaha to be with her.  Aunt Kathy made me promise not to come up to visit - that she would be there for Thanksgiving.  So, I didn't drive up there.  She died that week.  I've always regretted not going.

I know my grandparents will probably die while I am abroad.  It's a fact of my life and career.  But, it is so hard, being here by myself.  There is not a single person in the entire country that I have known for more than 5 months.  Think about that.  I wish I could be with my family right now.

I haven't decided if I will go to Phoenix to see Nanu or not.  It will depend on how he is doing and what my parents recommend.  If you are the praying type, please say one for my grandfather.
The three Al's - me, my dad and Nanu - at my cousin Matt's wedding

Nanu dancing with my Aunt Joan
Nanu showing off the beautiful turkey he cooked.
(When my little sister was a toddler, she and my dad would get into fights arguing over who loved who more.  He would say, "I love you more" followed by her, "No, I love you more."  This would continue back and forth, until at some point, one of them upped it to "I love you the MOST."  Of course, they would then usually argue over who loved who the MOST.  But ever since then, our family always shows our affection by telling the others that we love them the MOST.)

Nanu, I love you the MOST.


  1. Al, I'm so sorry. I hope your grandpa gets better, and soon. Maybe one of your sisters can sneak in a laptop so you guys can Skype? I'll keep my fingers crossed for you guys.

  2. I'm sorry to here about Nanu, Al. I will definitely keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Sending lots of hugs your way, from Mexico.

  3. Al, I'm very sorry to hear about your grandfather. The worst part about living far from home is being away from family, especially at times like these. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  4. Thanks for all the warm wishes and prayers - Nanu is doing better today and may move out of the ICU this evening.

  5. Sorry to hear about your grandfather's condition, Al. He sounds like a fantastic guy...glad to hear this afternoon's been a little bit better for you & your family.

    Adam & Sonia

  6. I'm so sorry, AL. I'm going through the same thing now, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  7. I'm glad to hear your grandpa's doing better, but you're right, times like this must be the worst part about living overseas.