Mother’s Day may have just passed but the importance lingers long past the day for me and many others. I’m reminded of one very significant Mother’s Day in 1979 when our boys were 5 and almost 3 years old. I had recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was recovering from my surgery in the hospital over Mother’s day weekend. Larry and I were still in disbelief from the news that I had cancer. After the Dr. had announced the results of the biopsy, I quickly challenged his findings because “…it can’t be cancer, I haven’t lost a single pound!” He very calmly reiterated the seriousness of the biopsy but quickly smiled and said, “Somehow, Nancy, I don’t think cancer has a chance with you!” One of the things I remember most is seeing my precious boys come in to see me, too young to have even a clue as to why I had tears in my eyes or hugged them even tighter than usual. Thank goodness they only missed me because they couldn’t really know what might lay ahead…and they were probably relishing the less scheduled way Larry and his folks were holding down the fort at home without me. I remember thinking that if I should die, Larry would eventually find a taller and thinner wife who would raise “my” boys. I wasn’t feeling very charitable or the least bit honorable by wishing for a wonderful woman to come take my place…oh no! I wasn’t at all ready to let go of all that I had dreamed of…a wonderful husband/father and two darling boys who might only remember me through pictures and stories. (Heaven forbid what stories they’d hear!)
After being released and visiting with an oncologist in Peoria, I was pleasantly surprised to find that no immediate treatment would be necessary. I would just have to have frequent scans to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread or returned. He asked me what my thoughts were on this diagnosis. I hesitated for just a minute and then said “I haven’t been sick, haven’t lost any weight and found the lump just a couple weeks ago, so I don’t think Larry should start looking for anyone yet, right?” He, also, smiled and said, “I think you’re going to be just fine.” Before long, it all seemed insignificant in the everyday joy of raising my sweet boys without the fear of a new, skinny, tall woman taking my place. Many years later when that almost 3 year old Brandon was in high school and 5 year old Corry was in college and Mother’s Day rolled around I would recall that 1979 holiday with tears and a smile. They were still my boys and I wasn’t any taller or thinner but I was their mom and couldn’t be any more thankful that I was still around to relish that title. Of course, they never really knew how significant that holiday was to me in a much different way. But, the truth is, those Mother’s Day presents over the years could have been a little more personal instead of sports equipment and yard games disguised as “mom, we knew you’d want this so we can all play” gifts. For me, now that the boys are no longer here, any and all Mother’s day memories are the best gifts I could ever want. And sometimes I wish that that diagnosis would have let me “bargain” my life for theirs so that they could wish their mother was still here as they bring flowers to my grave instead of me laying flowers on theirs. I’d still never trade who they were and how they changed my life…with a wink and a smile!