WWFD? What would Frankie, Frankie Heck of “The Middle” that is, do? That’s the question I found myself asking these past few days that left me longing for my own stashed can of whipped icing. Last Thursday, I had grand plans to shake it at zumba, clean my house, and search for some freelance writing jobs. Instead, I whisked my 17 year-old son with a bad stomachache from the pediatrician’s office to our local hospital emergency room. There, in the pediatric ward, lay my 6 foot 6 inch son on a way-too-short hospital bed wearing an also way-too-short hospital gown. Hashtag #tallpeopleproblems. The surgeon confirmed the pediatrician’s preliminary diagnosis of appendicitis and my son had surgery late that night. After my son was finally resting in a Dilaudid induced sleep and I was uncomfortably ensconced in the chair/bed for the remainder of the night, my husband returned home only to find the dogs’ room covered in diarrhea and vomit. Not knowing if our senior golden retriever or our young boxer was the sick pup, my husband cleaned up and we all tried our best to call it a day.
The next morning I woke to the insistent beeping of the intravenous alarm and the nurse quizzing me about my son’s ability or inability to pee during the night. All of this mind you, BEFORE COFFEE. My family will tell you that I am a walking, talking personification of the “But first coffee” meme so this was a rather incoherent and cranky exchange on my part. A muffin and a latte later, I was feeling much better and my son had met his two goals on the whiteboard: urinate and perambulate. Yay! I left the hospital to check on our dogs and found that it was indeed our golden, Lucky, who was obviously feeling very unlucky. I cleaned up, grabbed clean clothes for my son, and headed back to the hospital to meet with the surgeon to find out when my son would be coming home.
Fortunately, recovery was going well and we headed home late Friday night, exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep…which was not to be because my daughter at college texted at 2 am that she was at the hospital near campus, she was okay, just there to help a friend. So relieved that she was fine, but no more sleeping for me. I begin the first of many pots of coffee. She later decides to come home to rest for the weekend because she was beginning to feel sick and then my husband actually got sick after going to get her and bringing home dinner and suddenly I was that most dreaded of all family members: the last well one standing. The healthy one, the one caring for drainage tubes and incisions, administering pain meds and antibiotics, making tea, serving jello and pudding, boiling chicken and rice for the dogs, and pasta for my daughter to take back to college. In short, I wanted my own mom, whom I miss very much every day but especially on days like this one. Instead, I said a few Hail Mary’s and was comforted by my mother’s favorite adage of “This, too, shall pass.”
And I sat down to watch the new episode of “The Middle” and reflected that this week was a reminder of just how fast life can change and how I had been feeling a little down and unneeded (careful what you wish for) just a few days ago. This time next year, I will be an official emptynester and the Heck family’s future will be resolved by the series finale. I will miss the Hecks. I never had their financial worries but I grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, not unlike Orson, Indiana. My own children are different from Axl, Sue, and Brick and my husband shares Mike’s good qualities without having his blue collar profession but I still feel an affinity for their family. I have three kids also; boy, girl, boy of similar ages and stages. My oldest two are both away at college like Axl and Sue with my younger son at home like Brick. And on a scale of Frankie Heck to Nancy Donahue, I definitely skew to Frankie Heck. So while I am sad to see them go I am happy to spend this last season with them. The Hecks are one of the truest representations of family life on television. They go through their tough times, but persevere with love, faith, and humor, exactly the things that got me through this week (with an assist from my dear friend coffee). We could all use a little more Heck in our lives. And just wondering…did Brick ever have his appendix out? It could make a great story line……