Today is a milestone of sorts for me even though this day has absolutely nothing to do with me.
You see, today is a day I feared would never ever come. It’s a day I only hoped I would live to see. It’s a day that I now celebrate as relief floods through me. Today is my mother’s 63rd birthday.
My grandmother passed away at the young age of 62. She suffered a heart attack. For some odd reason, I’ve always associated that age with my mother’s death. Like if she could make it past 62 everything would be all right.
There has been a multitude of turbulence along the way, however. Many incidents and much nail biting.
She had ovarian cysts in 1998 and required a hysterectomy. Normally that’s not a problem but since she has had 3 c-sections they had to use an unorthodox method to keep her insides together. She has so much scar tissue built up from her c-sections that they had to use steel mesh to hold her abdomen together after the surgery, so it was anything but a routine hysterectomy. A few years after that, part of her intestines got caught, and pinched, in the mesh and she was, according to the doctors, pretty close to death before they repaired it.
Next she was diagnosed with diabetes.
Then high blood pressure.
Then, just a couple of years ago, she had to have a triple bypass due to three arteries being more than 90% blocked. I wept as the doctor explained this to me. I happened to be there because I drove her to the hospital for her angiogram. She was immediately admitted and I stressed out like a smoker without a cigarette for the next three days. She was admitted on a Friday afternoon and they don’t schedule operations on the weekend, so she wasn’t operated on until the following Monday morning. The procedure took hours. I spent all day in the waiting room nervously staring at the phone. A nurse would call every so often to update me on progress and to assure me everything was going fine. In the late afternoon, when I was finally able to see her, I almost lost it. She looked dead. Her skin was ghost-white, which is saying something considering how pale she already is. She had a huge breathing apparatus coming out of her mouth. Her IV had 8 lines going into it. There were monitors stuck all over her body. I was in shock. The fact that they told me she had done well seemed to be contradicted by the sight before me. Luckily I had my wife there to hold my hand and keep me calm or I might have broken down right there. I kissed my mother’s forehead, which was hauntingly cold. I was then instructed by the nurse to leave.
My mother has made a full recovery, of course. She takes care of herself. She eats right (which is hard to do when you’re diabetic AND have high blood pressure). She exercises. She does what her doctors tell her to do and she is in good health, generally. She found new motivation in all of her grandchildren. At the time of her surgery she had only the twins. She’s become a grandmother 4 more times since then and she loves every minute of it. My children adore her. Baby C loves going to see Grandma. Because mom lives in the same neighborhood as we do, he always asks if we’re going to Grandma’s house whenever we leave or come home. Even the twins, at 13, still love going to see their grandmother. They ask me often to go see her. I envy them that as my grandmother passed away when I was 7.
It has been a long and arduous road for my mother just to make it to this day and she has given me plenty of scares along the way. Still, I wasn’t sure during all that time that this day would ever come and I’m ever so glad it has.
I love my mother with every fiber of my being. She has been so strong through so much and still smiles. She still laughs. And she still takes care of me. I’d be lost right now without her help since my wife and I separated. I hope that I can be half the parent she is. If I can do that I’ll consider myself successful. I hope that one day my children feel about me the same way I do about her. She is truly an angel.
Happy birthday, mom. I love you with all of my heart.