And Then My Heart Stopped

Its been a shaky start to half-term hols.  This morning, I loaded up the rental van (who names a car brand a “Seat”, anyway?) with my parents, Boo and Pea (the Hubs stayed home to puppy-sit and work) and headed south-west to Pembrokeshire.

Let me start by saying that travelling is a challenge when your son has the bladder capacity of a shot glass. The challenge is compounded when you are travelling in what I would consider a pretty rural country. We made two pit stops in the course of a two-hour drive, one being, so proud to say, out the side of the minivan at the side of the road.

Don’t you think for a minute that he wasn’t tickled at the chance, either.

Also, since moving to the UK, Pea has developed sporadic carsickness, which has, after today, led to the new car-trip rule that NO ONE gets blackcurrant juice to drink in the car. I think the combination of sitting in the third-row, a bouncy lane and too many goldfish was too much for her. So while I have the dubious, gut-clenching honor of cleaning the car and my daughter, Boo is bellowing “She threw UP on my BACKPACK. I’m gonna THROW. UP.”

In a sign that God does love me, Pea vomited about 30 seconds away from the parking lot of our destination, Picton Castle. Typically this occurs on a narrow, winding “B” road with no place to pull off for miles.

After stripping her naked in the car and getting her cleaned up and changed, she seemed fine. We went for some lunch (and you are thinking “seriously”?) I was eyeing her cheese sandwich with great suspicion. Is it wrong to plan her meals around what will smell the least bad/colorful should you need to see it again?

I think not. Not if you are the one cleaning it up.

After lunch, and a tour of the castle where the sweet, charming guide identified every bloody photograph and painting of past residents of the castle, as well as just about every plate, figurine (hey, I learned the correct pronunciation of “Meissen”, finally) and painter of every painting in the castle, we escaped.

It had been raining, and the grounds were wet. We stupidly had NOT changed into our wellies, so vomit-cleaning-up focused we were.

As we headed off to wander the rest of the grounds, I looked back for some unknown reason, and saw my father falling sideways – as if in slow motion.

I couldn’t move to catch him, it happened so fast, but it seemed to take forever. As he lay on the ground, my heart stopped. PleaseGODpleaseGOD – don’t let it be something scary. It didn’t hit me that he slipped – I was just praying it wasn’t something BAD.

His face was blank – it was an expression I’ve seen on him only once before, and that was post-heart valve replacement surgery. (I’m sure right about now, he’s reading this saying “JEEsus CHRIST, don’t get so melodramatic.”) But I was freaked out. He had a look of shock on his face.

If you know my dad, you know he is a big bear of a man. My friend Nadine always says “He is of giants”. So to see him on the ground, on his side (it hit me that it was such an unnatural way to land) I ran to him praying that nothing was broken. Or that it was only something broken, not worse.

He pushed us all off, clearly – pissed off. ???WHU??? Quit hovering, blah blah blah.

He went to the restroom to clean up the mud. I took Pea to the restroom to wee, partly to hide my relief.

We took it as a sign to head for the guest house – where Maria, one of the owners, bravely took our shopping bag of puke stained clothes – and Sparkles – and offered to wash them for us. She gets bonus points in my book for that!

Dad seems ok and I’m trying to leave him be, but it was a moment of realization for me that he’s not unbreakable – or immortal. Silly it should hit me when he is 66.

I’m hoping that tomorrow’s trip to Folly Farm is less eventful. I can’t handle this kind of excitement.

By the way – we think Dad sprained his wrist.


  1. I think you are my new favorite blogger! Great, great story. Your hardship is our gain…I hope your holiday gets better!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: