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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Remember the Day the World Changed

I remember the day the world changed.  I can remember it like it was yesterday, but it seems like it's a lifetime ago.  I remember the exact moment when life went from "then" to "now". 

It was December 2009, the 15th, between noon and 1pm.   For the first time since childhood I decided to to make my mother a Christmas present.  I had been honing my skills as a jewelry designer, and I wanted to give her something that she would know I had put a lot of time, thought, and effort into.  I wanted it to be something just for her that no one else had.  After all, she was 83 and I had begun to see that my mother wasn't as young as she used to be, you know how it just hits you one day.  I was halfway through a "Dutch Spiral" bracelet, trying to decide how I wanted to make her earrings when Momma rang my cell phone.

"Hey", I said, I was always used to her calling me during the commercials of "All My Children", because she surely wasn't going to make a call while it was on.  She just said "I feel a little pain in my chest".  My first thought was that it was a report on a case of indigestion, since she ate a lot of what she wanted, and only some of what she really should have, but she still cooked every day, and she was the undisputed Queen of her kitchen.  Everyone knew that, and she could really cook.  But something was a little different, not urgent, nothing to put my finger on, just enough to ask "Do you want to go to the doctor?".  When she answered "yes", I knew it was something big, it must be painful, and she must be scared.  When she'd developed a brain aneurysm 20 years earlier she only agreed to go to the hospital because I wouldn't go out and buy more aspirin.  She'd taken a whole bottle in one night, and she was really mad at me for making her choose between a hospital or pain.  This time she didn't even hesitate, and I didn't live close.  I dropped everything and headed to her house. 

In the meantime, and for good measure she had also called my sister who is a math teacher, and a really good one I might add.  My sister called for an ambulance and headed out of the school building.  (Remind me to tell you about the hospital mixup some other time, I don't want to digress too far). 

It turned out she was having a heart attack.  My mother, a heart attack, it's still hard to believe.  She had made her breakfast that morning, had already started planning her Christmas dinner, and now the doctor was telling me not to expect her to come out of the hospital.  Hooked up to tubes, monitors beeping, in a medically induced deep sleep, I told her, "It's all up to you now". 

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