Mom hasn’t come to Tchad to visit us yet, which is weird. It’s weird because she, of all people, wouldn’t have any problem here. She could avoid the hot season, she’s no stranger to traveling where she doesn’t speak the language, she’s roughed it before... and I know she’s aching to see her two youngest grandsons. She’s a nurse, this is a mission hospital. She spent the first 18 years of life as a missionary kid. She was evacuated during Iraq’s civil war, as a little kid, by herself, to Italy. She found her own way there until her family found her.
At first she said silly things like, ‘Well, when you’re on the electric grid, I’ll come visit.’ We’re still not within a hundred miles of any electric grid.
But this is not a woman who waits. This is not like her. Mom has lots of strong traits. Patience with her family is one of them. Patience with absolutely anything else under the sun is decidedly not. She is always on the go. She has one gear: Top gear. It’s all or nothing. She does not stand in line, she does not wait for results, she does not wait for appointments, she does not wait for nausea or pain. It’s now. She does not wait.
She is all energy, full speed ahead. This is part of what made her the cool mom in high school. She was the mom who would throw parties for all my friends... even if I was out of town... and they’d still come, just to hang out with my mom. If I had any degree of popularity, it was on account of two things: I had a van that we could cram a dozen plus people into and I had the cool mom.
Mom’s always a gamer. Not patient enough to devote her undivided attention to television, commercials, books, firework displays, the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan or Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, Mom was always the one to round up the troops for whatever game was en vogue and could be played with Rook cards, dominoes or anything else within arm’s reach.
Mom’s a cop’s friend. At the end of the month, if they haven’t made their ticket quota, they can just follow Mom around. No time to do the speed limit when you’re going on about the Lord’s business, right Mom? Stop signs are just put there by the man to drag you down. No patience for any of that. And not much of an attention span either. Radio, mirrors, rabbit running in that yard over there, isn’t that an interesting tree, hey was that guy in the movies and thunk, Oh, I guess I may have just rear-ended that guy.
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I despise standing in line, I have a strong sanguine streak and I have the attention span of an ER doc, look, a lightening bug!
There was never any question that Mom wanted to see her youngest grandsons. Throughout the 32 years of my life, Mom has consistently demonstrated priorities of God and family, with everything else coming much further down the line.
Finally this summer, Mom alluded to coming out to see us this fall, and to bringing Dad with her. Plans were finalized and Mom bought tickets for Sunday after Thanksgiving. Mom got excited and started to prepare.
But plans change, excitement abates and preparations become unnecessary.
Mom got cancer and had surgery. The indefatigable got fatigued. The recklessly optimistic got down. The iron-stomached vomited. The stoic showed pain. The strong showed weakness. The unshakeable cried. The woman of steel bruised. The impervious chinked.
Mom doesn’t have the cancer that guarantees your death, but neither does she have the cancer that guarantees your survival. She has the cancer that requires surgery and chemo and radiation to might make your hair fall out, your guts turn inside out and your energy take a Sabbatical... in order to maybe be put into remission. It’s scary. It’s unresolved.
With the encouragement of her doctors, we are expecting Mom to die... in her sleep... peacefully... at age 120... from something other than cancer. More likely at age 120 while driving to a chair aerobics class after leaving the first chair aerobics class because nobody else showed up five minutes early.
Nonetheless, I would ask you to pray for my nurse, my professor, my mother and my friend, Ronnalee Netteburg. Pray for her. For her doctors. For her healing. For her treatments. For her symptoms, pain, nausea, fatigue. For her spirit. For our family. For her peace. For her faith.
Better yet, I would ask that you pass this along. Pass it on to people who might know Mom. Pass it on to people who know somebody with cancer. Pass it on to people who have or have had a mom. That should about cover it. Put it on Facebook. Link it. Take out an ad on TV. Put it on a billboard.
And post something for Mom in the comments section of this blog. Or email her. Or call her. Or send her a card. Or all of the above.
Don’t tell her what you think caused her cancer or what you think she could have done to prevent it. That’s stupid and useless. Just tell her that it’s a bummer, but a bummer you pray God can turn into glory for Him.
And since Mom is who she is... she’s still coming, leaving Sunday after Thanksgiving... after she’s already started chemo and had the surgery. Pray that her immune system holds up while she’s here.