Both my parents were hospitalized with pneumonia just over a week ago. My mum came into the kitchen to make breakfast and almost immediately collapsed on the floor. When she came round, she asked my dad to call an ambulance. But when the medics arrived, they noticed that my dad was very ill too. He couldn’t even get up the stairs to fetch my mum’s night clothes, so they quickly deduced he needed to be hospitalized too.
I think it might have been a small miracle that mum collapsed. Otherwise no-one would have known how sick they were. Dad went to the doctors two days earlier and was told his lungs were clear. But at the hospital, the doctor said if they had waited another day to get treatment it might have been too late.
Fortunately they are home now and recovering. My sister did an amazing job of looking after them, and I flew back last weekend to stay with them while they get well. Every day they are a little stronger, their color returns and their sense of humor. On Tuesday we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday. He was able to sit up for a short time and regale us with the story of one of his relatives who was the sole survivor of a mountaineering tragedy in the Cairngorms, a range of mountains in the Highlands of Scotland. All the men died very quickly, but this female relative survived the night alone on the mountain and was rescued. It happened just before one of the first British ascents of Everest, so members of the team went to interview her to find out what special things she did to survive. She racked her brain. ‘Well maybe there was one thing,’ she said. ‘I was in such a rush that morning I just popped my clothes on over my pajamas.’