Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My mother is a preacher. A Presbyterian minister to be precise. She has a way with words that Billy Graham would envy, that is if it weren't one of those 10 commandments not to. Her delivery is honest and inviting, and she weaves in her own stories in spite of being "called to teach the scripture."

It is her own stories that draw us in though. The fact that she only recognizes her own strength in hindsight and plays it down as "doing what she had to do" is one of her most endearing qualities.

In 1980, the day after Christmas, she went into the hospital for a radical mastectomy. My brother and I were deposited at different homes each day to play with other children and be looked after by all the moms who were so glad it wasn't them in that hospital.

I remember sugar cereal. The first mom we stayed with was Momma's best friend. I got to have Cookie Crisp for breakfast. This friend was a doctor (which I later pointed out to Momma since we couldn't have sugar cereal for breakfast), and she wanted to know if we had questions. I was 7 and the only question I had was,

"Can I have seconds?"

Later, I would learn the gravity of the situation. The odds were laid out to my parents at 70/30 and not in her favor.

"Get your family in order."
"Do you have a will?"
"Make plans for your children."

She made it through without batting an eye. Looking back, she finally blinked and realized how close she came to tragedy. She shrugged, said a prayer of thanks, turned back around, and kept right on living.