Tears of Sorrow and Joy | Sojourners

Tears of Sorrow and Joy

Just over 18 months ago, my mother was dancing at my wedding. Only a month later, my mom discovered that she had cancer of the abdominal lining. Thus began a long battle, fighting the disease with a combination of conventional surgery and chemotherapy, and alternative treatments of vitamins, serums, and an extremely healthy diet. At one point she was drinking so much organic carrot juice that she turned orange!

Learning that my wife, Joy, was pregnant (with our first child), seemed to give my mom added incentive to survive and even to get better. After Luke arrived, my mother was absolutely thrilled to get to know our new son, her 13th grandchild. I never saw her happier as she held Luke in her lap, and he gave her all those smiles of his. Then, she got very excited to learn that her youngest daughter, Marcie, was expecting a baby the day before her 75th birthday in May. On she battled, looking more and more healthy after each setback.

But on April 30, I got a call from my brother, Bill, in Detroit. My mom had collapsed at home. She had an infection in her bloodstream. Four out of five cancer patients die from something other than cancer, due to how much the body has been weakened. The doctors and my dad seemed optimistic at first; she had always pulled through before. But three days later we got another call. My dad’s voice sounded emotional and scared, "You’d better come." We did and were there in just hours. The doctors feared she might not live through the night. When my sister and I arrived at our mother’s bedside that evening, the first thing she said was to ask my dad if he had got fresh milk for us back at the house, and whether everyone had a bed with clean sheets. Some things never change.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1999
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