Feeling lazy, dressing in work clothes was an option that was quickly dismissed. Instead, I stayed in my pyjamas since there was nothing pressing that demanded my attention. Daylight greeted me in the kitchen, as did my wife. We chatted over coffee and breakfast and enjoyed a relaxing start to the day.However, I did not feel at ease as our discussion turned to my mother, Ruth. She had undergone open heart surgery nine days earlier to repair a heart valve and aneurysm on the aortic root at the base of her heart. It was a long surgery that went overtime. Both procedures were completed after eight hours in the operating room, which was two hours longer than the surgical team had anticipated. The down side was my mum started to hemorrhage and the flow of blood could not be stopped. Readers will know that mum is not the standard spelling of that special term of endearment that is reserved for a loving mother. It seems someone had told my mother that m-u-m was the Canadian spelling and the term m-o-m was actually from the United States. Right or wrong, she believed it and therefore so did I. My elementary school teachers tried to break my habit of using the “Canadian” spelling, but all their efforts ended in frustration. Such is the power of a mother. Flashing back to the present, the hemorrhage did not care if it was mUm or mOm that it was affecting. For that reason my mother was not stitched up after her surgery as the medical team was expecting to conduct another surgery to stop the bleeding. However, the flow of blood suddenly stopped without explanation (after a group of women banded together and prayed for her condition). The doctors then sewed up her chest and she was moved from the intensive care unit to the cardiac ward to recover. Improvement was slow, but steady. A week after her surgery, fluid retention became an issue, so a drain tube was inserted. It was effective, but terribly uncomfortable as anyone who has underwent the procedure knows. The next day it was removed and my mum reported feeling much better. Her whole countenance changed and she was sitting up having breakfast when my step-father arrived for a visit. The worst part of the process was over and mum began preparing to use a tablet she had purchased specifically for surfing the Internet and communicating with family and friends while recovering. I was amazed at how quickly she figured out how to use the handheld device and communicate using Skype, a two-way video communication system. Up to this point, my mother had not communicated with anyone by phone or Internet because she was weak and simply didn’t feel up to it. When her condition significantly improved, I found myself feeling like a kid again and being excited at the prospect of hearing mum’s voice. However, that never happened. My mother had asked us not to visit her in hospital due to the long distance to Vancouver, the cost of traveling and lodging, and the possible postponing of her surgery date. Looking back, I kick myself in the butt for honouring her wishes. I never did speak to her again after she underwent surgery. My last opportunity to hear her voice was on the morning of Nov. 30 – that was the day that I lazily got out of bed and chatted over breakfast with my wife. I confided in her that I felt something was wrong. I felt an urge to immediately phone my mum, but resisted since I thought she would be sleeping. Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, Saskatchewan is two hours ahead of British Columbia and 7:40 a.m. is too early to wake anyone recovering from a serious surgery. Less than an hour later our phone rang. It changed my world – our world – as people who read my wife’s column two weeks ago will know. At the request of family members, Angela read her heartfelt column from the newspaper at my mother’s memorial service. I know there is a season for all things (including blood clots that lodge in lungs and cause death), but it doesn’t make the grieving any easier. Personal experience has shown that time, truth and the support of family and good friends help immensely in that regard. My mum’s death serves to remind me that every day I wake up is a good day and every evening that I return home and hug my spouse or tell my children I love them is a very special time. Let us remember the most special gift we have – life – and share it generously with others.
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