A lifetime of Mom in a single afternoon

“I never asked you before. What was your favorite music when you were young?”

Mom lay quiet in the hospital bed thinking, her mind dialing through the microfiche of her lifetime, looking for the answer.

“Benny Goodman. He used to have a radio program on at five o’clock. I used to rush home to be there in time for that.”

“That’s right—there was no ‘recording’ things back then.”

She nodded, then lay still, thinking.

“Was that while you were living in England?”
I asked.

“No. It was after we came back.”

More silence. More remembering.

“And Tommy Dorsey. The 40s had such good music. There were dances and fun times.”

On the magic carpet of my mind I traveled back to middle America in the 1940s, to a time when a young woman and young man had a chance encounter at an Akron bus-stop. He was on his way to a dance at the YMCA and she to visit her cousin. Some time later they met again. This time they were both at a Saturday night dance. His name was Bill Kays. That evening they chatted and at some point recalled the prior bus-stop meeting. So they enjoyed the dance and later began to date. And the rest is ‘Theirstory’.

Their song? Naturally, It had to be you.”

I imagined that the Akron ‘Y’ was a jumpin’ joint on a Saturday night back in the day with trumpets blaring, trombones sliding, snares popping, and young folks jitterbugging. Those were magical moments to cherish and enjoy. Mom’s generation came-of-age in the valley wedged between The Great Depression and the rise of The Third Reich. But, as my carpet zoomed over that valley and into the Akron ‘Y’, I could see the youngsters who became my parents—and who came to that dance from entirely different directions.

In mom’s case, she, her mother, and older sister, were sent home from England where they had lived for nearly a decade. Her father stayed behind helping B.F. Goodrich to prepare Europe for an imminent Nazi invasion. Back in the states, Bill Kays received a draft deferral due to his engineering degree from the University of Missouri. Engineers were in short supply and were to play a vital role in America’s war effort. So, dad supported soldiers abroad with brainpower from the states. It was during such an uncertain period in world history that mom and dad met, and danced, and soon felt certain that their’s would be a united future.

2:30 p.m. Surgery time.

Mom’s age and CHF (Chronic Heart Failure) make her a poor risk for surgery, and surgeons and specialists alike have weighed-in to underscore the danger: Don’t expect too much; she could go into cardiac arrest during the procedure; post-op, there’s the chance of infection, blood clot, and heart failure.

With all of this explained to mom and the family, still she opted for surgery. And it was her call, ultimately (though the family were in full agreement). The alternative—pain management for a fractured hip, no chance of regaining mobility, increased risk of aspirated phneumonia—was never an option from mom’s perspective.

I want to proceed“, she told surgeons, anesthesiologists, and cardiologists in order as they warned her of impending doom. Dr. Peng, the first anesthesiologist to try and discourage the surgery, was able to see the bigger picture more clearly when I had a short sidebar talk with him in mom’s room:

“I want to let you know about mom’s spiritual perspective; she has faith in God and understands that there are no guarantees either with or without surgery. As for the family, we are not expecting a miracle cure. We know that the prognosis is not good with surgery. But it is worse without surgery. My mom is of sound mind. She still will make the final call.”

Dr. Peng took a moment to absorb this information. Then he approached mom’s bed and went through the prognosis/risk talk one more time.

“I want to proceed”, came mom’s answer in a barely audible but resolute whisper.

And, so, they did.

“If we go past two hours in surgery, then you can start to worry”, said Dr. Skinner, the orthopedic surgeon, after mom was wheeled toward surgery.

And, so, the wait began.

After 90 minutes the waiting-room attendant informed us that mom was almost done in surgery and would be in recovery soon. We were surprised by this—but not as surprised as we were when we caught our first glimpse of her in the recovery room. Mom was super-sharp and alert, and—if possible—looked even better than she did 24 hours prior to going under the knife. Even the anesthesiologist was impressed.

Mom is now back in her “regular” room and resting comfortably. Given her age and all other factors, doctors informed us that the next 48 hours are critical. But, we’re thankful for what we have witnessed on this day at St. Jude Hospital. My prayers directly to the Savior have been specific:

  • Safeguard mom from pain, suffering, and fear
  • If physical healing is not the option, take her Home to Heaven in her sleep

Vicki and I were mindful of Jesus’ last words to John, from the cross: “Son, behold your mother.” Thereafter, the disciple whom Jesus loved took Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his home to care for her.

That became our prayer for mom: “Jesus, behold our mother.” We know that Jesus will continue to take care of Betty from here on in to eternity.

Epilogue: Mom has been at St. Jude for four days and will be transferred to SoCal Post Acute care facility in Pico Rivera on Friday afternoon.

As Nancy shared with us, hours 48 through 72 are when post-surgical pain peaks for hip surgery patients. Mom confirmed this for those who visited her on Thursday :-!

Again, mom and the family thank all of you for a thousand different kindnesses these past few weeks. She is a tough customer, but your prayer and care still are coveted.


3 Responses to “A lifetime of Mom in a single afternoon

  • I woke up at 3:00 a.m. today and my thoughts immediately went to Moosemaya. I have always loved, admired, and respected her, but when I read your story and pictured her saying, “I want to proceed” with the surgery, my heart just over-flowed. What a woman. Thank you for sharing that story with us. 💙💙💙
    P.S. Benny Goodman was my Dad’s favorite and I listened to his music a lot growing up!

  • Beautifully written.

  • Praise God my brother!!!
    Jesus promises us Heaven is our home…
    No pain, suffering or sin!!!

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