Thanksgiving – My mother, My hero

After reading my posting about Thanksgiving, I need to add a few things that I think are really imporant, after all that has happened (and now that I am feeling a WHOLE LOT better. God love drugs.)

1. I can’t begin to express my appreciation, admiration and adoration for my mother. The woman is an absolute goddess. Upon her amazingly fragile shoulders, she carries this family, and carries it with the strength of 150 mothers and fathers combined. When the chips are down for her, she sees the silver lining and never, EVER gives up. She plods onward and makes things happen. If she, in her own weakened condition, can still do these things, then I am a far, far weaker person. I don’t know if I could handle it.

2. This weekend, my mother cooked a 23 lb. turkey, baked two pies, prepared sweet potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and all the rest of the fixings IN ADDITION TO caring for my father and accompanying him to the hospital AND taking care of me when I was feeling ill. She then proceeded to feed four hungry people.

3. The next day, my mother and I went to my sister’s house, where she baked COUNTLESS dozens of cookies– more than I could handle in my own weakened condition — and still went home feeling fine. I was the one who had to sleep for 4 hours.

4. Today, my mom was up and around again, ready to begin another day’s chores and activities, while I, in my still-weakened condition, could barely move.

Now granted, when I’m 100% healthy, I can run circles around the lady. But sometimes she does the same to me. And it simply astounds me. She just never quits.

I want to share a story about my mom with you. This story has long inspired me to believe in my mother as my hero. I think you will agree that she is rightly named as such.

In 1994, everything that could have possibly went wrong with my mom went wrong.

It all started with her hip replacement surgery, which, ironically, was supposed to finally make something right. She had for years been suffering from a deteriorated hip joint due to Legg Perthes Disease, which had afflicted her as a child. The hip replacement was many years too late in coming. The surgery was a success, but her recovery, and the toll that everything took on her heart and lungs weakened her system drastically.

However, we did not know this right away. In the hospital, all her signs were good for a full recovery. She went to physical therapy, got better, and came home.

After a couple weeks had passed, we noticed that mom was falling asleep at very odd times. Watching TV… at dinner… while talking to her. She had never done this before. We also noticed that when she did sleep at night, she snored so loudly that we could hear it in adjoining rooms. Again, this was never the case before. Finally, one day while at work, (my mom was a nurse at the same hospital where she had her surgery) a fellow nurse noticed that her nail beds were blue. Definitely a bad sign. So back to the hospital she went… to discover she had developed Emphysema as a result of the stress that her surgery and recovery put on her lungs; and also due to the fact that she had Asthma and was never correctly diagnosed. 3-4 weeks later she returned, forced to retire from work, and on Oxygen.

But that wasn’t the end. While doing cancer tests mainly on her lungs (my mom was a smoker for many years, however she had not smoked in over 10 years at this point), the doctor noticed blood in her urine and ordered a test on her kidneys. A lump was revealed. Mom had kidney cancer.

This scared us the most of all. Our family has seen the ravages of cancer on friends and family members alike. The extent of this cancer would not be known until the kidney came out, and it definitely had to come out. We were afraid of this procedure not only because of what the results could be, but because of the further stress on my mom’s already battered body. But mom surged forward and remained strong, although she did take some time to take pictures with my sister and I and the rest of the family, just in case. This was a very scary time for all of us.

The day of surgery came, and the whole family waited together. When the news came that the got the kidney, we were elated. It had not spread, and they got it in time. Mom was safe, for now.

We all headed to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit to see mom. She had been intubated and was still asleep. When she awoke and saw us standing there, we could tell she was scared, but encouraged.

“How are you feeling, Mom?” I asked her.

Gently, and gingerly, my mom raised her right arm. And then, with a single, sudden movement, gave us the “Thumbs-Up” sign.

Now, after all she had been through; after all the pain and suffering, worry and despair, and procedures and operations; for this now-fragile woman to wake up from surgery, with tubes down her throat and in her arms, to be strong enough and sharp enough to know exactly what she needed to say in one simple gesture, conveyed to me that this was no ordinary woman.

Awash in tears, I knew right then and there that this extraordinary woman was more than just my mother.

She was, indeed, my hero.

And I still believe this today.

That’s something –someone– to be thankful for, if you ask me.