I got a fright this week when hubby called me at early in the morning at work to tell me his dad had had a stroke in Pakistan. He has had stents put into his heart this year and his health has generally been a source of worry for me and my mum-in-law. On top of that he completely ignores the Dr’s advice regarding his diet and enjoys teasing my mother-in-law when she nags him to eat sensibly, saying if he is going to die, it’s better to die on a full stomach.
We recently put in an application to renew my mother-in-law’s visit visa to come and spend the summer with us as she does every year. We have been hearing from friends anecdotally that a lot of visa applications have been rejected even when the visitor has come here before and not overstayed and even if they are elderly and unlikely to want to stay here for long. Both mum- and dad-in-law have been worried it will be rejected and they would lose their application fees and she would have to ensure a 45 degree Lahore summer during Ramadan.
They had gone to pick up their papers and found that the application had been accepted and that the visa awarded. Dad-in-law still thinks he is 21 (he is in his 70’s) and took mum-in-law on one of my brothers-in-law motorbike, instead of waiting for one of the boys to wake up and take him in the car. On the way back, he fainted and ended up stuck under the bike. Mum-in-law thought she was seeing the systems of stroke and completely freaked out. She couldn’t get hold of anyone on her phone, but was assisted by strangers who got him out from under the bike and called an ambulance.
My brothers in law met them at the hospital and called my husband from there. I was making plans for him to fly out and thinking the worst. My dad-in-laws older brother died a few years ago from a brain haemorrhage after being unconscious for ten days, so that came to mind. When hubby came to pick me up, I asked him if he had had any updates and he told me that he had been diagnosed with very low blood pressure. We suspect that he had also self-medicated when he felt a bit unwell instead of telling anyone and that made matters worse.
He is recovering at home but the fright made mum-in-law’s blood pressure go through the roof. When I spoke to her that day, she was still quite anxious and was quite unwell. She told me how helpless she felt, thinking her husband was dying right before her eyes and she was alone and could do nothing.
Having seen Gorgeous have a fit as a child and then go limp and having seen Darling have a nasty allergic reaction that spread almost instantly across her body as a baby, I knew what she was talking about. You realise in moments like that how truly helpless you can be. There is nothing you can do at all in such moments for the people you love most in the world. They may be slipping away before your eyes and you can only watch. Every now and again we get a powerful reminder that Allah (SWT) has all of the power and we have none, we are completely and utterly helpless before what He decides. That feeling can haunt you for a long time.
I am ever so grateful that he is getting better and that we still have him. I am more than aware that as our parents get older we have to accept that there will be a time when they are no longer with us, but knowing doesn’t make it any easier. I am not ready to lose this gregarious, fun-loving, bear of a man and never will be. He has always made me feel like a treasured daughter and his sense of fun and refusal to mentally grow old has been a source of inspiration for me. I still remember our trip to Scotland when on impulse he decided to jump into a waterfall, it was only afterwards that it occurred to him that he didn’t have a change of dry clothing. Or the time he was listening to mum-in-law nagging and took the wash basket from my hands with a grin and smacked her in the bottom with it much to my embarrassment.
I am going to ask him to come down and stay with us this summer. He doesn’t like leaving Lahore and his friends and social life, but hopefully we can persuade him insh’Allah.
My mum- and dad-in-law at Wray Castle by Lake Windermere, in the Lake District