The school year of 2003-2004 was a revolving door cranked up to 78 rpm. The disjointed, day-by-day revision of the Fall 2003 assignment schedule bore no resemblance to the one I had so carefully planned out in August of that year.
It was November 10, and I had just been told my mother — lively, witty, accomplished teacher and writer, Lois Terry — had cancer. Stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the colon. I spent the first two weeks of November bedding down in the guest unit on the fifth floor of Baylor-All Saints Hospital so I could be there for her, whatever hour of the day or night she might need me. The other part, what was left of me drove back to school and managed to hold it together for my three Comp II classes.
Weeks passed, and soon, Mama, now a hospice patient, was transferred to a nursing facility near me. One night, when I was watching t.v. and trying to ease down to sleep, I got a phone call. It was from my son, Tam.
“Mom…Malin and I are going to have a baby…..“
Picking up the t.v. remote, I hit the off button.
“Okay, now, hon. I didn’t hear you. What…?”
“You’re going to be a grandmother, Mom. He’s due in June.”
I was in shock. I looked in the mirror several times that night, turning my face in every angle. After hearing the news, I expected to see a kindly, gray-haired granny in the mirror. But the face that stared back was the same blue-eyed brunette in her fifties. When I woke up, the next morning, I wondered whether the whole thing had been one of those realer-than-real dreams.
I was bursting to tell Mama, yet, knowing it was a bit soon, I kept it under my hat.
I ate Thanksgiving turkey and ate Christmas cookies with Mama at the nursing home, with son, Terry, joining us for the briefest of Christmas visits.
Soon Spring 2004 started, but I was informed that there were no classes with my name on them. Even though I was disappointed, I knew it was for the best. My mother, who now called me Mommy, needed me more than ever.
On the last weekend of February, Mama’s roommate got to go home. The night before, Terry called me with his own good news: he and wife, Sallie, were expecting their first child, a girl, to be born late September. The next day, Sunday, I walked on air into my mother’s room. Within months of each other, my first and second grandchildren would be born.
“Hey, Great-Grandma,” I said, smiling, as I sat down on her bed and announced the news.
Her face lit up. She smiled as if she understood.
Looking back, the last two weeks of Mama’s life slipped by before I knew it. On March 10,2004, the first line of a Christian song, “There’s a stirring deep within me, could it be my time has come…?” played softly on a CD player at her bedside. As if on cue,my mother, the erstwhile actress, took her final bow.
Although settling the details of Mama’s life and struggling with the grief over my mother leaving this world, I began to focus on the hope, the expectation of two new lives on the way.
That’s it! Life is a merry-go-round!
Late one night, I woke up, grabbed a pen and notebook on my nightstand. The thoughts that had incubated like embryos in my brain, tumbled like newborns onto the waiting page.
TICKET TO RIDE
Painted carousel horses bob
to calliope chords
grinding in rhythm
to the human heart.
This merry-go-round…this Life…
spins to Your tune,
and stops at Your command.
In a single breath, only You
can pause the world,
mute the music,
and halt the horses in mid-air,
long enough to relieve the weary,
allowing them to step off
and welcome new passengers
to climb eagerly aboard,
tickets in tiny fists,
ready to ride.
** Kim K. Terry **
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