October 25, 2015
The Good Life By Vickie Stam
Mom & Dad 1956
Every Friday the 13th there is a motorcycle rally in Port Dover, a small town nestled along the shores of Lake Erie. Bikes line every inch of the sidewalks, grass and parking lots. Not a crevice is left open. If one fell over its ripple affect might be felt for miles. And the people come from far and wide to see more than 100,000 motorcycles perched under one tiny area of God's glorious sky. I can almost smell the leather from my home just ten minutes north of Dover. It truly is a sight to see!
But on February 13th 2009, it was cold. Still, the bikers came. Not as many though. The local newspaper reported around 10,000. I remained warm and cozy inside my home. Supper was on the stove. It was an ordinary February day.... that is until the phone rang.
"Hello" I said.
I recognized my mother's phone number on my call display. At first I thought she was calling just to talk about the motorcycles. She was always intrigued by the event and liked to talk about it at great length.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"I'm just getting supper ready. How about you?"
"Not much really. But I did call to talk to you about something." She said. "I called to let you know that I haven't been feeling well lately. I went to the doctor's last week for a check up and an ex-ray of my chest."
"Likely just a cold you have." I replied without giving her a chance to go on. But she didn't wait. Without skipping a beat, she kept talking, "I have lung cancer. The doctor confirmed it today." Nothing in her voice sounded different than any other day. In fact, she seemed so calm.
I felt my heart plunge. And before I could say a word, she carried on once again.
"I've had a good life. I've watched my three girls grow up and have kids of their own and I've enjoyed being a grand-mother too."
"I've had a good life." She said as she were saying good-bye to me.
Tears slid down my cheeks. I wasn't sure how to respond. There was a long pause. An unforgettable silence between us before I finally whispered, "But, I'm not ready to let you go."
Two weeks later my family squeezed into the doctor's office and listened intently to what he had to say. "You need to have surgery to remove a portion of your lung. Without it, you will be dead in less than nine months."
He was so matter of fact. No Beating around the bush. His bedside manner was pretty cool. That's probably why my mother's bottom lip began to quiver. She smoked and she knew the risk. Deep down, I'm sure she wished it wasn't happening. Over the years I learned to read her body language. She announced her refusal of an operation without uttering a single word, yet forty eight hours later she was recovering in ICU. We had convinced her to fight back. Check up after check up, the doctor told us she was, "Cancer free." My family was elated. My prayers had been answered.
July rolled around and mom and I were out shopping. It felt good to be out with her again. And then, one night shortly after our trip to the mall she called me.
"Vickie, I'm having trouble breathing."
"Go to the hospital, mom." I said without hesitating.
Fluid was drained from her lungs and we were assured it was an infection. I breathed a sigh of relief. But less than a week later she was back in the hospital. This time they did a biopsy.
"You have lung cancer. You're in stage four and there is nothing we can do for you."
The word, "nothing" screamed inside my head. I wanted to lunge at the doctor in the white lab coat, make him take back his words. He had to be wrong. She had fought so hard to beat the cancer. I was stunned. There was nothing to be thankful for anymore. Everything seemed... all for nothing. A flood of pain washed over me. I wanted to crumble under its weight. I begged God not to take her away from me. I pleaded with him.
Seven weeks later she died even though I had begged him not to take her. For a while, I felt like I was in some sort of in-between state. I knew she was no longer suffering but I wanted her here with me. Why did God take her away when I wasn't ready? I could still picture her sitting in that chair in the doctor's office, her head nodding. She didn't want the surgery. I wondered why we made her do it. I didn't think it was selfish of us. We loved her.
It's not always easy to praise God in the difficult times. But when I look back I can see so many blessing in that trial. I feel blessed because I know she's in heaven. I feel blessed because she called me that same day to share such dreadful news, all the while expressing her own blessings to me. She wasn't saying good-bye. She was leaving me a wonderful memory.
Every Friday the 13th, I can almost smell the leather but more importantly , I remember my mother telling me, "I've had a good life."
I love and miss you always.
Labels: Being thankful By Vickie Stam