Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flashback / Flash Forward


The year is 1976. fall is here and I am in college. I have made it through my freshman year, sophomore year, and now nearing the middle of my junior year. Things are changing. School is becoming difficult, my grades are slipping, my mind is wandering, and all I can concentrate on is my mother. Odd I know for someone my age, but you see, she was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half earlier, two years actually, and I miss not being at home near her. The decision is made and I leave school. Drop out. Quit. Soon I am back home living with my parents and soon wondering what I have done. I decide to pursue an different path educationally and even tell myself that was the plan all along, only I never took the time to see if the path I thought I would switch to was available in my home town schools. It is not, so I am at home deciding what to do with the rest of my life. I go to work, but only at the place where I had been working during my summer vacations. A local Goodwill Industries made a habit of hiring college students during the summer, and while it was not glamorous, it was a job, and it allowed me to pick up a pretty decent second-hand wardrobe on a college budget. They were anxious to have me return and so that was easy. It was easy to take the easy way out. It just was not very fulfilling. Spending day after day checking pockets of used clothing and deciding what would be labeled as "good, bad, or ugly" or what would bring in a dollar or 25 cents just did not fulfill much in my soul. Someone told me that the local hospital was hiring and soon I found myself working at the switchboard.

That may not have been much more glamorous, but I felt like I was providing a bit more to the community, so it was okay, the pay was decent, and other than working a boring night shift, I found I mostly liked the job. I got used to long nights, where my most "exciting" calls were the ones that prompted me to issue the emergency call throughout the hospital. I would summon doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and all other necessary personnel to the bedside of a patient in a critical situation. This would be okay. This job allowed me to be at home, to spend this time with my mother. I was able to include her in the planning of my wedding, to get her input on simple things, like colors, china patterns, and the big things, like, "Mother, what do you think of this dress?". It also allowed me to be at home in other ways, to assist with the boring day to day things, like cooking and cleaning.

I was supposed to be home that year. I did not know it at the time, I felt like I was wasting my life, wasting my education, and I missed my friends and especially missed my fiance'. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. I did not know it then. Mother lived for 15 months after I left school. She held out until one month before I married in the spring of 1978.

Flash forward:

May 2008. Memorial Day to be exact. We are at the apartment of youngest son, packing him up as he prepares to leave one college and move on to another. He will live at home for the summer where oldest son is also living. Oldest had graduated college one year earlier, had spent six months in Amsterdam working in a Christian Hostel and had now been home for six months, still not finding that one special job. Home, away from friends, away from things he loved to do, and not finding any fulfilling work. He takes at job where husband works because that was easy. Easy to take the easy way out sometimes. He and youngest would find whatever work there was to be found there and muddle through.

Who knew that the very next day would set of a chain of events in all of our lives that would leave us profoundly changed? The very next day after packing up youngest, I suffer a heart attack. A heart attack which sets many things in motion....heart attack, stent placement, hospital stay, pain, return hospital visit, tests, another catherization, more tests, "What is this, a nodule on her thyroid?", more tests, biopsy, "Sorry Mam, you have cancer", more tests, time for a mammogram, "What...something on the mammogram?" additional films, biopsy, "Hmmm, not really wrong, but not right either" , wait and see, surgery for cancer, hospital stay, emergency trip to ER, "Compromised airway", emergency surgery, ICU, hospital stay.....healing, waiting.

Through most all of this my sons are home, only by now youngest has gone off to a new school. Oldest is still home, now working full time at a job he does not feel fulfilled in, missing his friends desperately, and feeling so alone.

Does history repeat itself? I certainly hope not, because I know what happened ultimately to my mother. I also know her prognosis was not the good one I have been given. But does history repeat itself just a little bit? Seems to be so.

I so want oldest to feel fulfilled in his career, I so want him to find that perfect job, in that perfect town , near perfect friends.

But can I say that maybe, just maybe he is right where God placed him for a particular reason? Maybe God knew how very much he would be needed at home, needed for emotional support, for diversions from all things medical, needed to be be a set of extra hands around the house. Sometimes we are not where we want to be, and not where we think we should be, but we are always right where we need to be. We just don't always know it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I use your blog to keep up with everything that is happening. I miss you terribly and wish I could give you a hug! I will see you soon! I will be making a trip to Danville in October. -Tyler