My Father’s Day

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Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, the ideal parents

Today is Father’s Day. Tomorrow is my father’s birthday. He will be 94.

Five weeks ago he irregularly fractured his neck while on a 39 day cruise to Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan. (Don’t ask what business he and my 92 year old mom had going to Southeast Asia.)

Four weeks ago he was deposited in a hospital in Vancouver, B.C. I returned him and my mom, who had contracted pneumonia, to New York via air ambulance where he was admitted to an excellent hospital. The flight took half a day. My mom had enough of hospitals and went home.

On his first day in hospital he experienced “sundowning,” a medical term for when disoriented and medicated patients, especially the elderly, lose all sense of reality. I was told it would last only a few days.

Two days later he went into the OR for neck surgery lasting five hours. The following day he was still disoriented.

Two days after surgery, his once agile mind seemed to be slowly returning. Two days later, we had a conversation. He wanted to go home.

After three weeks he was released to a rehabilitation facility for an indefinite period. The first day was disorienting (for me), by the second day, my father had made friends with others on his floor.

On this day before his 94th year he is working hard to recover.

Today is Father’s Day. It would be great to turn back the clock and calendar so this never happened.

Tomorrow is his birthday – he just wants to go home. That would be a wonderful gift.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →