We took Kaveh for his first plane flight to Munster for a very busy week with two big events to celebrate: his first birthday and my brother Rob’s wedding. But the real excitement began when my dad decided to have a massive heart attack right after Kaveh’s birthday party had ended. We think it was probably the ice cream cake that did him in because he started agonizing about shoulder and chest pain shortly after eating it. I called the paramedics who brought him out to the ambulance on a stretcher while my mom and I waited in the car behind them. As soon as they put him in the ambulance, I saw some commotion and then the paramedic waved for me to join them. I peered inside the darkness of the ambulance bay to find my dad posturing with his head torqued to the side and his arm flexed over his head. To anyone with medical training, this is an ominous sign of lack of blood flow to the brain. He was unresponsive but they hadn’t even hooked him up to a monitor yet, so I couldn’t see what his heart was doing. They began checking his pulses and doing CPR, while I ran in to get my wife for extra help. We hurried right back out and his monitor showed ventricular fibrillation, so we shocked him, which thankfully worked on the first try. We got him to the hospital in time where he received blood thinners followed by five vessel bypass surgery the next morning. My poor dad had to miss the whole wedding but listened in on the cell phone from his hospital room during the ceremony and speeches.
Rob had asked me to give the traditional speech before dinner, so I prepared and rehearsed for weeks ahead of time. After the events of my dad’s near death, I added a whole new part of the speech that I had to memorize. I emphasized that despite the fact that the groom’s father couldn’t attend, this is still a time of celebration since he survived the heart attack, and after all, we were at a wedding. My dad said he felt like he was listening to his own funeral! I’m not a very good public speaker and got lost halfway through. Feeling flustered with everyone staring in silence at my bright red face, I gulped down the champagne that I was supposed to save for my toast and somehow regained my composure. At the end of my speech, I closed with toasting to the new bride and groom and offering them a piece of advice. “Make sure you have kids; you never know when they might come in handy some day!”
On top of the birthday, the wedding, and the heart attack, Pooneh and I had to wake up early and drive through heavy traffic to a medical conference in Chicago every morning. Needless to say, we were totally exhausted by the time we got on our plane to go back home. Just as we got settled into our seats to relax and began to reflect on the long week we’d been through, Kaveh vomits the most malodorous, bile-ridden, sour milk puke all over poor Pooneh. I just stared in disbelief at this thoroughly disgusting situation until Pooneh calmly suggested that I go get some paper towels. Of course, this had to happen right at the beginning of the flight, so she had to sit in smelly, wet clothes for hours until we arrived home.
Kaveh’s wild wagon ride
Once back at home, we had another party for Kaveh with Pooneh’s side of the family. For his first birthday present, I bought Kaveh a new wagon so I could walk him around the neighborhood and to the park. Now that he was a “big boy,” this was way more fun for him than the baby stroller. When we walked through the garage to drive to his daycare, he headed straight for his little blue wagon and just sat there, wanting me to wheel him around. One chilly winter day I took him to the park. When I looked back at him sitting in the wagon, he looked so cute and happy, beaming a closed-lipped, chubby-cheeked smile. Stuffed into his Sheepskin winter coat, everything about him looked puffy and cute. When I sped up, he let out a chuckle and grinned even bigger, so I ran faster down a hill which made him laugh out loud. I ran off the sidewalk into the grass to make it even more exciting, and he started yelling with joy. I loved hearing the sound of his laughter rattle over the bumpy, unpaved terrain. Then I ran around in circles, turning sharply in different directions, hooting like a silly dad in the park with his toddler. Before we left, I ran him down the hill once more for a grand finale. To maximize the acceleration—and hence his joy—I made a quick turn at the bottom of the hill. I turned around expecting to see that cute little smile between those puffy red cheeks. But to my horror, I saw him soaring through mid-air! He flew so fast that upon landing, he kept rolling and tumbling across the cold hard ground. “Holy Shit!” I shouted as I ran over to pick him up. He shrieked in terror with a look I’ve only seen on him after waking from a nightmare. All I could do was hug him tightly and tell him how sorry I was. Thankfully he was ok and willing to get back in the wagon. I looked around to see if anyone had seen what just happened, because I’m sure I would be ex-communicated for my negligence. Pooneh would have freaked. Whether anyone saw me or not, I was sure of one thing—I’m going to hell.