Heaven Threads


Eight-petal motif afghan, 2"Eight-petal motif afghan, 2" by emlibrarian is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 



Mom wrapped hand-crocheted doilies in tissue paper. Then placed them inside a pastel gift bag. Gathering the bag’s handles together, she lifted it from the table. “You seem quiet.”

I forced a smile. Could she feel my anxiety that had built up for weeks? Days before, in a nervous hurry to leave the specialist’s office, I’d forgotten to ask how long after my colonoscopy I’d have to wait to get test results. If only I could stop thinking about the prep, the procedure, and what might happen afterwards.

“Is everything alright?” Mom finally came out and asked as we walked out her front door with the gift. I carried Colin, the youngest of my four children, in his plastic baby seat down Mom’s steps behind her.

“Yeah,” I replied, watching her blouse shimmer in the sunlight. Did I just lie to my mother? If I didn’t have cancer, my answer wasn’t untrue. And it was cruel worrying Mom too soon.

I followed her along the sidewalk two row houses down from her Philadelphia home I had left when I got married. Colin swaying along with my steps in his cushioned nest. Dad’s cancer didn’t allow him to see any of us five kids turn eleven-years-old. Would I live long enough to see my only son’s eighteenth birthday?

We climbed Mrs. Smith’s steps. Mom regularly checked on her aging neighbors. Mrs. Smith was one of them who had attended my wedding years before.

Mom waited at the top of Mrs. Smith’s steps with the diaper bag and doilies. My thoughts leaped again to Mom. She had spent a year caring for Dad, only to watch him die. Colon cancer must swim in Dad’s gene pool. A rare form that strikes at a young age. No wonder my physician wasn’t alarmed when I showed up at her office with stomach pain. She knew I was a stressed mother with two babies in diapers, again. Most people aren’t screened until fifty. A healthy thirty-one-year old woman doesn’t get a colonoscopy. Until I began bleeding.

I’d spare Mom the possibility of me being sick until I knew for sure. Then, I’d need her help with childcare. My grandmother had babysat when Mom drove Dad to his treatments. Would this cycle repeat?

“Mrs. Smith will be so excited to see the baby. I didn’t tell her you were stopping by. She’ll be surprised.” Before tapping on Mrs. Smith’s front door and going in, Mom added, “She has a new nurse. Her name is Diane.”

We went inside.

“Hi, Mary. Is someone behind you?” asked frail Mrs. Smith. She sat in a recliner with her swollen feet up, facing the nurse sitting with her feet on an ottoman. The nurse had taken over twenty-four-hour care of Mrs. Smith after she fell out of bed. The afghan Mom crocheted Mrs. Smith lay across Mrs. Smith’s lap. The nurse and Mrs. Smith could be two friends gossiping in the neat living room.

“Oh, it’s Dawn with her baby,” said Mrs. Smith. I introduced her to Colin.

The nurse, a middle-aged woman, smoothed an afghan draped over her lap that Mom crocheted in gratitude for her kindness to Mrs. Smith. Diane looked from Mom to me, lingering her gaze on me. I avoided her eyes as we shook hands above Mom’s handiwork.   

A statue that reminded me of Mary the mother of Jesus, stood on the wraparound extension of the bottom step of stairs leading to the second floor. I sat across from it on the couch next to Mom, glad when attention switched from me and Colin to Mrs. Smith.

She appeared well cared for and happy, but her nurse made me uncomfortable. I focused on Mom and Mrs. Smith chatting about the afghans, doilies and Mrs. Smith’s health. Diane’s eyes cut to me during their exchange.

The nurse’s attention diverted from the conversation altogether as she pulled her afghan to her chest. I almost wished Colin would start fussing for an excuse to leave. How could such a peaceful, loving environment be so suffocating?

Mom ended our brief visit by wishing Mrs. Smith a fast recovery. In a minute I’d be walking back up the street to Mom’s house for our usual mother-daughter banter. Once we got there, I’d have to keep cool and focus our conversation on her grandchildren.   

As Mom stood up, Diane interrupted our good-byes.

“I’m sorry, Miss Mary, but I can’t keep quiet. Something in Dawn’s stomach area is bothering her. Jesus wants me to tell you she’s gonna be alright.” 

My skin tingled.

Mom turned to me. “Honey, is there something wrong?” Her confused smile of worry searched for an honest answer.  

I stared at Diane in the strain of expectation between Mrs. Smith and Mom, and the two of us. Diane wasn’t focusing on me anymore. “Praise Jesus. Yes, Jesus. She gonna be alright.”

My face must have answered Mom’s question. She said, “I knew there was something you weren’t telling me.”

I burst into tears of relief as Colin lay quiet on the floor next to me in his baby seat. I had become the child needing my mother.

“What’s making Dawn sad, Mary? She’s crying.” Poor Mrs. Smith. Her concern for me, in her serious health situation, wasn’t fare.

“She gonna be alright, praise Jesus. Yes, Jesus.” Diane’s prayer of praise was a background hymn to my confession. It felt so good to finally share my fears with Mom, as I always had.

I hugged Diane and Mrs. Smith. Mom helped me gather up Colin and the diaper bag. We left Diane to explain to Mrs. Smith, without my broken voice making it impossible for her to understand, what the commotion in her home was all about.

Since that first colonoscopy, I’ve been screened each year. Multiple polyps have been removed from my colon. Many have been benign, but others continue to be pre-cancerous. During my colonoscopies, my gastroenterologist performs non-invasive surgery to remove the polyps while I’m under anesthesia. I never get tired of hearing him say, “No cancer,” when I wake up in the recovery room.

My son is now twenty-six-years old. Praise Jesus.                                 

    

CONVERSATION

8 comments:

  1. PraiseJesus indeed !!! Bonus, you get to put up with me : )

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  3. Happy to hear you're still sipping Life's sweetness...

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    1. Yes. Even at my age I still am awed by nature, a new morning, and the comforting taste of oatmeal.

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  4. Definitely praise Jesus, Dawn! There were tears in my eyes reading this, my dear. My twins, my youngest, were maybe a month old when the doctors thought I might have breast cancer. Talk about worrying that I wouldn't be there for my five children! To help me believe I was fine, I kept saying to anyone who would ask: God would not give me these five beautiful children and not let me be here when they needed me. I said it every day and every night while I awaited the test results. My twins just turned 28. I love you, Dawn. Be strong and well always!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so similar to mine. Love you too, Victoria. Take care.

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  5. My pleasure, Dawn. I love reading your blog. Enjoy your summer!

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