11/02/2011 01:56 pm ET Updated Jan 02, 2012


The Cardinals won The World Series, and my father knew it.

He called them The Carrots, but I understood what he meant.

My father had a stroke over a week ago, and his life changed in a flash, as did mine. Overnight, I became acutely aware of the challenges of being a later in life mother caring for a young child and senior father.

G-d bless my dad. He's 93. My son is 8. I'm 51. Not the easiest of ages for any of us.

Despite the stroke, at 93, my dad hasn't for a long time felt as he'd like to. I've tried to explain to him that I doubt anyone at 90+ feels as they'd like to, but that's never been a comfort.

At 51, I'm in the throes of perimenopause, and that's enough to wreak havoc on any woman.

My son, at 8, isn't little anymore but isn't grown either. He yearns to exude independence yet waivers at moments like bedtime when he summons his dad to lay with him as he falls asleep.

Living in the moment is so key, and that's particularly evident in hindsight.

it took seconds for my dad to lose much of his long term memory and want for language.
But, as bad as it is, it could have been SO much worse. Thankfully, he didn't experience paralyzing physical disability.

He'll get speech therapy, and even if his communication remains compromised, he can live a quality life. He may no longer share the stories of days gone by that engaged so many. He loved to talk about growing up with famed (now deceased) baseball player Phil Rizzuto, and proudly wore a t-shirt I created for his 90th birthday saying I PLAYED BALL WITH PHIL RIZZUTO. It was a wonderful conversation opener when he wore it to his local pool club or on our annual family vacation to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Now having a conversation for my father isn't second nature.

My dad, despite his many surgeries over the years, was somewhat of a medical marvel. When he'd be seen by a doctor and asked his health history, he'd describe in detail what surgery he had, when and where. Jaws would drop in awe and admiration.

When he first stroked he was calling everybody Robin. At our meeting with the neurologist prior to his official diagnosis, I was in a room full of Robins.. .only they included my sister Barbara and Brother-in-Law Terry. I identified myself to the doctor as the "real" Robin." It would have been comical if the situation wasn't strikingly sadness.

Seth, my son, has been a trooper. He, too, became Robin, during a visit with grandpa. He's been my tower of strength, in addition to my husband, and close friends. Seth has an instinctual ability to reach out to people when they need it the most. After my first visit with my dad following the stroke, I put on a brave face in his house, assisting him and his live-in aide, but once Seth and I walked back to the car, a flood of tears took over. Seth reached out and assured me that grandpa would be okay... that everything would be okay... and I believe he believed it.

I am so grateful for Seth. He touches my heart in a way I never knew a child could. And, I'm so glad he's cultivated a relationship with my father that hopefully will live on forever.

I'm hopeful my dad's situation will improve over time, and that G-d willing there won't be any repeat episodes, thanks to preventative measures. I treasure having my father in my life, and the last thing I want is for him to suffer greatly. No one deserves that, and certainly not a man who has done his best to be a caring father all these decades. As a parent, no one is perfect, and I recognize that. But, he's my dad... the only dad I'll ever have... and he'll always have a place in my heart... even if I'm not the only Robin to him.