I was scrubbing human excrement from the carpet (another story) when the phone rang. It was a doctor in North Bay, Ontario. My father was about to die.
I packed my bags and got on a plane - one hop to Toronto, another to North Bay. By the time I arrived, my dad had taken a life flight to Sudbury, because the hospital in North Bay didn't have the expertise and equipment to keep him alive. My mother was waiting for me with their car. I drove her to Sudbury, where we spent the next week making two trips per day to the hospital, to look at my unconscious father in the ICU.
Eventually, my father was released from the hospital. He had stabilized and could go home. The next day, we took The Drive.
Home, for my parents, was central Florida. God's waiting room. That wasn't our destination. Our destination was my home, outside of Cleveland. On the trip, my dad started to undergo congestive heart failure. Should I take him to the Niagara Falls hospital? Buffalo General?
No. My father had enough of that. Either get me to the Cleveland Clinic or let me die, was essentially what he said. He either wanted the world's best cardiologists to "fix" him, or not. What he didn't want is to be strung along.
Well, I got him there. The Clinic doctor told us we came within a half hour of having a corpse in the back seat, but we got him there. My dad lived another nine months. Long enough for everyone in his family to say, "goodbye." Still, after that experience I said that I will never make The Drive again. Never again will I drive hundreds of miles with a dying parent.
I was wrong.