Monday, April 21, 2014

A Stroke of Faith

My sister called my cell last Friday morning while I was sitting in Berkeley Springs at a baseball game.  "Mommy collapsed.  I am taking her to the hospital."

Our mother is 88.  She had just come out of a pretty difficult water aerobics class--yes, you read that right--and grabbed some groceries at Food Lion.  Upon reaching my sister's vehicle, she went straight down.  First miracle:  Straight down.  Not forward on her face, nor backward on her head.  She didn't break or bruise a thing.  A couple men were standing by and rushed to my mother's aid.  Another man stopped his car and helped them get her up and into my sister's car.  She was weak and listless.  My sister tore back to my mother's house and grabbed her medicine, the things she takes daily, because she knew she would be asked.  She put our mother's cold stuff in the fridge.  People have questioned that.  I would have done the same thing.  It's the parent-child relationship.  I don't know exactly what's wrong but Mommy will want her food put away.  There was a sweetness to the action, and not a foolishness.  Because even though we're grown women who have raised (and are raising) our own children, we are still daughters, and within that relationship we still retain some of the thoughts and feelings of little girls toward their mommies.  So, the cold stuff got put away.

As they flew to the hospital, my sister did all the stroke tricks and our mother did not pass.  Along the way, my sister asked a zillion questions, even one particular question that, considering the circumstances, was necessary--but it certainly took a lot of courage to ask:  "Mom, do you want to be cremated like Daddy?" Second Miracle:  They didn't wreck or get pulled over.  One of the sweetest songs ringing in my heart right now is that while my mother was continuing in her stroke, God ministered to her in a precious way.  He tells us in John 14:26 that He will recall His Word to our remembrance.  She recited Psalm 23 in the midst of her situation.  And He caused her to be able to.  I was wondering about calling that fact the Third Miracle, but her ability to recite scripture in the midst of her uncertainty was not a miracle, rather a promise.  I have a mother whose every breath is a thankful one, whose every hope is in the Lord Jesus.

By the time they made it to the hospital, my mother's left arm was retracted and her mouth drooped on one side.  The amazing folks in the ER whisked her into the back, evaluated her and sped her off for a CAT Scan.  (BTW--thanks for that!  You saved our sweet Mama's life!)  By the time I reached the consultation room, the Scan was in progress and we were about to meet the neurologist.  His team finished the Scan and he confirmed our fears.  Until that point, I nearly had myself convinced she had forgotten to take her blood pressure meds, that this wasn't actually a stroke, that she simply needed to get back on track with her pills.  The neurologist was kind and encouraging.  She had been given a clot-busting drug and was responding well.  As Mommy was transferred to ICU, we updated our sibs, spouses, kids and other family members.

Miracle Three:  I remained strong and without tears.  The next day a whole bunch of us gathered in the ICU waiting room and wore out the double doors into the unit--two at a time.  The strangest thing occurred.  Our mother remembered every second of the previous day.  She recalled her water aerobics class, her grocery trip, the exact sensation as she collapsed (complete weakness), the men picking her up and placing her into the passenger seat of my sister's car, the ride to the hospital.  She seemed great.

And then, the next day she seemed less great, and today less so.  She is fragile, yet still, even within the weakness of her body, she is encouraging and sweet, and funny.  The nurse asked her today if she knew where she was.  When she said she did know, her nurse continued:  "Where are you?"  ISRAEL.  Israel?  My heart dropped.  And then I saw my sly Mommy wink at my youngest daughter.

I don't know what our tomorrow will bring, but there is One who does, and it's on Him that I have to cast this one.  That became crystal clear tonight when I sobbed my eyeballs out because I feel so terribly lost when I think of, perhaps, losing my mother.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Praise the Lord and Pass the Potatoes: I'm Back!

And so it's April of 2014.  The last time I even visited Momma to Momma was nine months ago.  My excuse?  I can only say that some things take awhile to come back.

I had a friend once, a Cub Scout mom and a huge crafter.  My friend lost her baby boy.  She never returned to Scouting or crafting.  In the first months after my dear one's accident, life regained its busy pace--everybody went to a camp or two; I studied Appalachian culture at a local university; we got the dogs and a cat fixed; the bills rolled in and money flew out; we bought groceries; we planned a wedding; we deposited our girl in college; we fought off the wolves howling at the door; we sat around campfire after campfire and grinned at each other because we still had the right amount of kids.  God had graciously allowed us to keep our daughter.  Anyone peeping in would think our lives were exactly the same as they had been before her accident, that while we had nearly unraveled last May, we were all wound into a perfectly together ball of family again.  We even thought so.

Sometime last Fall, it hit me that I had not written a poem in a long time.  I had not flipped on the karaoke that's always set up in the kitchen.  I had not slept a whole night through.  I had not attempted even one tiny piece of art.  I had not watched a movie without nodding off.  I had not finished a novel, jumped on the trampoline, napped, surprised my husband, or journaled anything (not my Bible studying, my feelings nor my project ideas).  I was distracted by what ifs.  Hyper-vigilance set in.  I needed to know where every one of the children was at all times.  I asked them to call me when they went someplace, answer the phone if I rang it, and call me the second they got where they were going.  I stayed awake nights until I could place each child on the proper shelf.  I tried to reason the law of averages but to no avail.  Sometimes tragedies are visited upon the same people multiple times.  That law does not really apply to situations involving horrible, life-altering events.  If I thought about our daughter's accident, my brain followed an ever-deepening groove back to the moment my cell rang and all I could hear was her friend screaming on the other end of the line.

It has taken months of baby steps to allow my adult children to live their own lives without reporting to me constantly.  I still need to hear their beautiful voices every day or two.  Each time I push through a potentially dangerous time without calling or cautioning, I move a wee bit closer to being better than I was before.  Some might say I should seek counseling.  I am seeking God.  Mighty Counselor.  And it's working, because here I am.

In the past couple months I have written two poems, slept through the night, made several tiny pieces of art, watched a movie without nodding off, finished a novel, napped and journaled.  I have also started a graduate program in Geography.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go flip on the karaoke--gonna spend my evening as Janis, Patsy, and so many of my musical heroes in between.  Busted flat in Baton Rouge...