For those of you reading this that aren’t scholars of Country music, which I assume is at least a small percentage of my base, The Forester Sisters were a hot country act that had several big hits in the 80s. Not only that, they were born right up the road from where I live. Well, not exactly right up the road, but over yonder a ways and not too far off, ya hear? Because we share a last name, although spelled differently, members of my family are constantly getting asked if we are related to them any time we are introduced to someone from round here that don’t know us. Most of the time, I am more than happy to disappoint them and say no, but on occasion, I’ll have a little fun with it. “Oh yeah, those are my Aunts. Ever since they hit it big, they don’t wanna have shit to do with us, though, so if you ever see ‘em, you tell ‘em their nephew said to go f**k themselves!” I’ve never actually considered how confused they’d be were this to ever occur. God, I hope it does.
On January 7, 2009, my Daddy had a heart attack. It’s easy for me to remember the date because that was his 50th Birthday. I had been hanging around my house all day in my underwear, watching Sportscenter and jotting down ideas for what I would say on stage that night at The Comedy Catch. “Hmmm, let’s see, I need to polish up that bit about me being lactose intolerant and probably need to drop the one about Casey Anthony killing her baby since this is a corporate show and Lodge Cast Iron Skillet’s President probably won’t like that one too much” I don’t know if that was exactly what I was pondering that day, but it was undoubtedly something equally as stupid.
My Momma calls me in a panic, fills me in on the situation, and tells me to get my ass to Hutchison Medical Center as fast as possible. My Dad had started feeling bad earlier that day, and instead of telling my Mom, who was a nurse, he decided to go out to his office by himself and start googling heart attack symptoms. Luckily he diagnosed himself, and Mom was able to get him in the car and in his seat belt before he plunked over and hit his face on the dash. Out cold the whole time my momma put Richard Petty’s BC Powder shilling ass to shame on the freeway and broke the sound barrier getting him to the hospital. The Doc said if my mom had waited on an ambulance, my Dad would be deader than Blockbuster stock after Netflix went public.
So I haul ass up there in a panic. I’d been snortin coke, pills, and anything that would fit in a straw for the past few days, so my nerves were already in a bad spot, and this wasn’t helping. I run into the room where Momma said they’d be, and Dad is hooked up to everything but the printer. One of his best buddies, Carl, who played bass in Dad’s Bluegrass Band when I was younger, just happened to have been there visiting another friend when they wheeled Dad in, so he grabbed hold of me as I was crying and tried to calm me. I’m not a religious man, and I hate the phrase “there ain’t no atheists in a foxhole,” but I will admit, I started pleading with God, out loud, to spare my Dad. “God, please, I swear to you, if you’ll see my Daddy through this, ill stop drinking, smoking, hell, I’ll quit f*cking cussing if it’ll help. Please, God!”
Now I need to remind you that my Dad had just had a heart attack. Not only did he have a heart attack, it was one of them widow makers. The kind most people don’t make it through. I also need to remind you that my Dad is one of the funniest sons of bitches on planet earth and never misses an opportunity to get a laugh. Right after I made my deal with the good Lord above, my Dad mustered up the strength to lean up in his bed, fake like he was pulling all his wires out, and said, “Ok… my plan worked… we can go home now!”
He then fell back on the pillow and flat-lined. “My God. The son of a bitch had one last joke left in him.. his timing is impeccable,” I thought to myself as I watched my father die. Luckily they were able to stabilize him, and we breathed a sigh of relief momentarily. About that time, my sister got a call from an old friend of hers who had heard the news and warned us that the hospital we were at was not the place we needed to be if we wanted my Dad to live. Knowing this girl as I do, I didn’t need any further literature on the subject to be convinced, and I went straight to the nurse’s station and requested a transfer. “Hey y’all, it’s been real, but I’m gonna need y’all to take my Daddy up the road to that other Hospital, k? Thanks!” This is not a situation where someone will go, “Oh sure, redneck boy in Trucker cap, anything you say!” So they protested my decision.
I don’t want y’all to think less of me, so I am going to omit how that back and forth went because it doesn’t paint me in the best light, so to make a long story short, we finally came to terms, and my Daddy was now on his way up the road where they are more equipped in the “keeping people alive” department.
I want to say that Momma rode in the ambulance with Daddy and that I drove my sister and me up there, but I’m a little fuzzy on this part. I can tell you that I white smoked it out of that parking lot, though, and put my piece of shit Xterra through more action than it had seen in a while. Actually, now that I’m typing it all out, I realize that’s not true. My Momma drove us, and the reason I know that is because we got there before the f*ckin Ambulance did, and everyone was talking about how she needed to start a private service to pick up half-dead sumbitches from their house and take em to the hospital. I’m not going back and editing that first part, even if it means everyone will now know I drove an Xterra.
So we get there, and we are, of course, in a panic and halfway between grief and shock. We run like Flo Jo up the wheelchair ramp and into the hospital's main lobby, just looking for a Doctor or anyone in scrubs so they could help us locate my Dad. Finally, a lady in a white coat rounded the corner and could tell we were in what my Granny Bain used to call “A tizzy.”
“Can I help y’all?” the lovely Doctor Lady says. “Yes,” I said, trying to catch my breath. “My Daddy had a heart attack, and we don’t know where he is. Please help us!” She put her hand on my shoulder to calm me. “Everything is going to be ok. We list patients alphabetically, so tell me your Dad’s last name, and that will help me find him” My sister, who had been quiet most of the day, finally chimed in… “His name is Dale. Dale Forrester!”
The Doctor then led us down a hallway, not full-on Home Alone -Airport-scene-running, but a brisk and intentful jog. “Right this way!” she said as we followed behind her. She made it about 4 feet before she stopped and turned to us….
“Are y’all related to The Forester Sisters?”
You are a wonderful writer. I love your stories. Thank you for all that you do. I sure hope you come to Houston soon.
Great story! I love the part about your dad pretending it was all a trick and the ending is priceless.