About four years ago….
The phone rings.
It’s my brother. My brother never calls.
My guts know in an instant that something is terribly wrong.
My mother had fallen a few days before and was due for surgery to repair her broken hip.
“Les (my family’s pet name for me), I’ve got bad news.”
It’s funny, or not so funny, how your body sometimes responds quicker than your mind.
My heart pounds in my ears. My lungs forget how to breathe. My stomach sickens.
The tears spring to my eyes and burn my cheeks.
I desperately hold myself together with an unraveling thread–just long enough to confirm what I already sense.
And then he says that word; that word that mercilessly pierces the heart and spins the world, out-of-control, upside-down, inside-out–forever.
The deafening echo of that word–cancer, cancer, cancer–drowns out the described details.
My mother and cancer conjoined in one sentence. How can that be?
My mother is gentle and quietly wise. She works harder than anyone I’ve known and does so with joy and gratitude in her heart.
She never complains, never brags, never steps into the limelight. That’s not her place. She contently cheers silently from the sidelines.
She loves nature and animals, especially dogs–maybe even more than her six kids, we always tease her.
She loves and accepts people for who they are. I’ve never heard her say an unkind word about a living soul. With the perfectly placed word or two, she defends the defenseless; and you listen.
She never judges, guilts, pushes, preaches, or pretends that she knows the right path for anyone else, even her own children.
She gifted to me a rock-solid foundation and the freedom from which to grow and discover my own wings to fly.
My mother and cancer? It makes no sense.
And then, somehow, my brother’s words surface. “Are you okay, Les?”
“No.” And the thread snaps.
I hang up the phone and collapse in a puddle on the kitchen floor.
Just yesterday…the day before Mother’s Day
The phone rings.
Ahhh, that familiar voice that instantly washes over me and through me; soothing me to my core.
“Hi, Mom! Hey, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, and I’m supposed to call you!”
“Les, you’re a mother, too, and just as important as I am. So I decided to surprise you this year and call you first.” Fitting words for a fitting mother.
The tears flow once again but this time tears of joy and gratitude.
My mother is still here to hold me and comfort me; and let me know that everything is okay and is exactly as it is supposed to be.
My mother is still here to love me just because I am me.
The next time, my dear friend, you wonder whether it’s worth the effort to take care of yourself with wise food, health, and fitness choices, think about and feel your mother, your children, your spouse, and your friends.
And then ask yourself two questions.
“How much am I worth to those who love me?”
“How much am I worth to myself?”
You, my friend, are worth your effort.