I grew up blessed with parents who enjoyed traveling. Before I was in kindergarten I'd been to more places than most adults. My parents always traveled in style and our usual accommodations were at the Holiday Inn. When I was about four I was in the backseat of our blue Olds Calais, chauffeured by Mom on a long forgotten errand, when little precocious me remarked, "They have hotels in our world too?"
Incredulous at the idea of anyone visiting the Downriver area of suburban Detroit, I could not fathom that anyone would need the services a hotel provided where I lived. After all, the only places I'd stayed in a hotel were at our cross-country vacation spots. This was not a vacation spot.
I think that is the moment in time when the world around me collapsed, the moment I realized there was more to the world than little ol' me.
Sometimes those things that force us to see the world in a different way are totally innocuous, like the Holiday Inn. But sometimes these catalysts are more tragic. And sometimes they're less obvious.
What would life be if we didn't have those defining moments that put life into focus?
I've lost some people I cared for deeply, and this week I thought I nearly lost another.
The Husband's mother is, in one word, a Momma.
What's a "Momma," you say? Well, she oozes love and doles out hugs like they drip out of her arms. A Momma is the one who hides her problems to take care of everybody else. Now, Mommas also create a well-known phenomenon called a "Momma's boy." You might be familiar. Typically Mommas are terrific cooks and wonderful listeners. A little known fact, Mommas make tremendous mothers-in-law. (Of course some men don't quite outgrow being a Momma's boy, but that is another issue entirely).
Well, Momma, as she is affectionately known, is just such a woman. She started a family before the age most of us consider what college to attend. She grew up in the Rural South. Back then this was not unheard of, so please don't gasp aghast and look down your nose at her, but she only went to school through the eighth grade and was married when most of us are still in high school. She had two children early and for the rest of her life it was never hers again. A child herself she grew up as she raised her own.
Flash forward about thirty years and now she has a GED thankyouverymuch, a job, a taste of independence, and has even driven on an interstate.
Well, years of tending to the needs of others has taken its toll. Her heart has literally broken.
This week we learned that the Husband's Momma was being rushed to the county hospital by our sister. Why county? Well, as a woman of small means she is uninsured. Let me get the facts straight for you, however, she has been insured for years until this point.
Momma had been having chest pains, stomach pains, cold sweats, and a tingling arm for 15 hours when our sister forced her to come to the hospital.
After a long wait she learned she had indeed had a heart attack. For 24 hours we were all on edge. The Husband and I were stuck in Cleveland while Momma was in a hospital hundreds of miles away in Jackson, Tennessee. The wait was excruciating. We planned all the logistics involved in arranging coverage at work and were debating on a mode of transportation down South when we got the good news that surgery wasn't needed. The blockage cleared itself. There was scarring and now heart disease will radically impact our family, but Momma is still here with us.
Turns out she has an enlarged heart. I'd love to call up the doctor to say that he will never know how truly large it is.
I haven't prayed so much in quite awhile. I also haven't been so thankful in quite awhile. These are the things that make you put life in focus. This is no radical epiphany, though. It is no novel human experience. It is simply this -
We are so thankful. We are so blessed.
Our world collapsed in around us, but you know what is found in the blackhole of tragedy?
Sisters, brothers, niece, nephews, mothers, fathers, husbands, friends, cousins, and pure complete love.
For this I'm thankful. How lucky are we?
We love you, Momma!
Oh, and I love my Mom, too!