Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mothers and Mortality

My mom just had open-heart surgery. I'm sure she was more terrified than I was. But I felt like I was on that operating table alongside her.

Months before, my mom waffled about having the operation. Went back and forth. Her aorta was closing. Fast. Had to happen. But she said, "Maybe it's best to leave it in God's hands and let me live the rest of my life as is." 

I'm not shameless to say I pulled the "grandkid card."

"Your grandchildren are counting on you," I told her. Yeah, I went there.

Something worked. Mom decided to have the procedure. I told my beloved winter-bound Florida "snow-bird" she needed to get her dancing heels ready 'cause it'll go great.

Yesterday the family gathered. Three sons and family. Cold, sterile waiting room. Bad coffee. Lots and lots of reminisces. Embarrassing ones. And more bad coffee. Then searching for solitary bathrooms after too much bad coffee. Doesn't matter.

The operation went well. So well the surgeon pronounced the procedure as "boring."  "Boring's" good in this case.

Hours after the operation, my wife and I visited Mom in Intensive Care.

And I totally lost it.

I wasn't prepared.

My mother, dear blessed mother. I didn't recognize her.

She uttered disembodied, agonized "oh's" every few seconds. Rhythmic, sad and far away.  I wanted to hold her, afraid I'd break her. She looked like she'd lost twenty pounds in ten hours. I couldn't kiss her because of the mask.

There was no way of letting her know how much I loved her.

This morning I visited again.

I couldn't believe the difference. She sat up in a chair, welcomed me upon arrival. I gladly helped feed her breakfast, administer her medicine, scratch her neck. When she started griping about things, I thought (wanted to vocalize actually, but thought it might be crass), "Yes! My warrior mother's back!"

All past grievances, annoyances, racial and political differences jettisoned the hell out of the room.

My Mom. The angel who raised me, formed me, talked me through things. Protected me from monsters under the bed and monsters in the White House (an early fear I'd be drafted to fight in a war I didn't understand).

I cradled her head as gently as I could, said, "Mom, I love you. I'll do anything I ever can for you."


  1. Touching. My own mother had heart surgery in 2009. I know exactly what mean in every line of this moving piece.

  2. Hold her tight, Stuart. Hold her tight. <3