I want to start by saying, this story has a happy ending. There’s no need to worry about anyone’s fate at the end of this. Everyone is alive and well, and healthier than they’ve been in years. Last summer, however, current health statuses seemed far from a guarantee, and I was just beginning a journey that would turn out to be the most difficult time in my life. But this story isn’t about that either. It’s about a woman who constantly persevered and amazed doctors with her recovery. This is about a woman whose attitude was always positive and who served as an inspiration to everyone around her. It’s about a woman who never gave up. This is about my mother.
I won’t go into the details about my mom’s health issues, that’s her story to tell, not mine, but I will never forget the moment last summer when my mom texted me while I was at work and told me her parents (my grandparents) were taking her to the hospital. In typical mom fashion, she told my brother and I in a text message group chat that everything was fine and that we probably shouldn’t worry. Flash forward to about 12 hours later, my mom was just getting out of emergency surgery and my life as I had known it was going to change completely.
My mom and I hadn’t always been close when I was growing up, but as I entered high school and then college, we were practically inseparable. I went to an out of state college, and she came and visited me multiple times a year, and I called her on the phone almost everyday. Even well into adulthood I was still going to visit her at home at least once a week, and I texted with her all the time. The month before her health problems started, we had taken a fun vacation together to Cannon Beach, Oregon. I never imagined a day in my life without her, yet there I was, confronted with the prospect that my mother was indeed very human, and very ill.
An 11-day hospital stay, months of recovery, another hospital stay for an infection, and numerous doctors appointments cumulated in a final surgery in late March and a subsequent clean bill of health and thumbs up from her care team. I’m glossing over the hard stuff for myself and my family because it’s not worth reliving. Sure I could talk about my breakdowns or how my counselor cried during one of our sessions when I talked about how close I was with my mother or a million other difficult things, but there’s no reason to focus on the negative when it’s overshadowed by so many positives.
My mom is a shining example of who I want to be when I face difficult circumstances. Even when she was in the hospital, she never stopped being my mother. She let me cry at her and comforted me even when she was in the middle of surgical recovery. Her sense of humor never wavered, and we came up with so many inside jokes during those first few days in the hospital, when everything initially seemed harsh and impossible. When she was released from the hospital on Easter of this year after her second surgery, the nurses on her floor stopped my grandmother and I on the way out and told us how sad they were to see her go. Doctors, nurses, and anyone else she encountered always talked about what a great patient she was and how happy they were to see her recovering so quickly. It’s a testament to my mom and what a wonderful person she is that she managed to touch and inspire so many people during such a difficult time.
Most of all, she never gave up. There were times when things were presented to us as dire, but it never was to her, or at least she never showed it. If I had been in her shoes, I probably would have thrown in the towel millions of times or broken down, but she never did. In fact, she set goals for herself and started working on improving her health. She made lifestyle changes, started taking long walks, and made sure to keep busy. She went back to work full time long before her doctors expected her to. Her recovery was nothing short of miraculous, and my mom was always thankful and grateful for everything she had.
It’s really hard to put into words how much my mom has inspired me. But even though she was the one who was ill, she managed to lift me up and encourage me at a time when I needed it most. During her early recovery, I had taken time off work to help her out and spend time with her, and she always managed to show me how thankful she was that I did that. It takes an exceptional mother to be able to be there for her children even when she needs them the most, yet somehow, despite all the terrible things that had happened to her, she managed just that.
When I was young, my mother had mentioned that she wanted to live until age 120, and I said in that case I would like to die at age 91 so that I wouldn’t have to spend a day without her. This ordeal was the first time I ever really confronted the idea of living without my mom, and not only did she allow me to talk about that with her, she also assured me that she wasn’t going anywhere. I really don’t know what I would have done without my mom being strong not only for herself, but for me. I’m so thankful she’s my mother because I don’t know how I would have gotten through this without her, even though it wasn’t even my illness. The reality is, though, that I need a strong mother to help me navigate life, and I’m so thankful that I have one who is healthy and by my side going forward.
So to my mother, the most important person in the world to me, this is for you. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!