My dad is sick. He has pneumonia. I love being in California a lot, but sometimes I wish that my parents were closer. Especially now. My mom worries so and tries to keep it all in not to upset my dad. And they are both stubborn about their health...not taking care of themselves the way that they should.
My mom had her first heart attack when I was just 11. She had open heart surgery when I was 13, and has had chronic heart problems since. She doesn't like to go to the hospital, so, despite the fact that she was once an ER nurse, she will not take it seriously if she has chest pain. But she cannot stand to see her family in pain or injured. The running joke in the family was that she could rush out and treat the neighbor's son's compound fracture, but if I skinned my knee or stubbed my toe and was bleeding, she would have to sit down to treat me for fear she would pass out.
It's no end of worry to my dad...her health problems. She is his best friend (and vice versa). But he's just as stubborn. About 4 years ago, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his right lung. He'd been coughing for months, but wouldn't go to get it checked out. He was diagnosed with pneumonia that winter and when they compared chest Xrays from the previous years' bout of pneumonia, they noticed that the infection was settled in the same spot. He would probably have waited months more to go to the doctor, if it hadn't been for the pneumonia. They were able to surgically remove the tumor.
About 2 years ago, he started having strokes. It's resulted in his being on disability and needing to go to more doctors. He hates going to doctors. He hates the doctors' tests. It makes him all grumpy and leaves him feeling like he has no control over life. So he's stubborn and doesn't want to go. And this drives my mother to distraction.
Last night, on the phone about 2000 miles away from them, I heard the worry for my dad in my mother's voice. And I heard my father's worries in his questions about why I hadn't called them back sooner. And the worry, and the cummulative anxiety of their multiple health issues, produces this reaction of wanting to solve the problem in some way. If nothing else I want to give them both hugs and never let them go.