There was a moment standing in the hot summer sun on the beach in my 20s that I had my most meaningful discussion with God. I explained in that moment that I still needed my mother. The word, “cancer,” had been whispered before her hysterectomy. She was having that surgery at home while I was Up North. “I have to finish college and I need her,” I explained. I wasn’t bargaining. I didn’t pretend I would behave differently. It was less of a request and more me outlining facts.
Today my mother had knee replacement surgery. The occasion made me think again of my discussion on the beach. I wasn’t worried. I knew she’d be fine as well as I knew that the sun would rise tomorrow. I spoke with her briefly on the phone and she told me not to visit her hospital room. It was snowing; she repeated my father’s cautions about the roads. Something wasn’t quite right with her voice and I thought, tonight she needs me.
“Listen to the wind blowing,” I tell my daughter. “You can hear it say, ‘Everything will be alright.’” I tell my daughter that so she will find comfort in the coming storm, the way I find comfort in the pounding waves. Watching the waves crash on the shore has always reminded me that my little troubles aren’t strong enough to change the really enduring things of our world. The wind will always be there for my daughter, even when I’m not.
I went to my mother’s room in spite of the snow. This is Northern Michigan after all and we can’t let the day’s weather order our lives. It was another occasion when the cadence of my mother’s voice reminded me of my grandmother. And the strain of anticipating a post operative struggle had exhausted her. This surgery went much better than a previous hip replacement surgery. We joked about her skiing with my daughter and I over the weekend. And with a tough recovery still in front of her, I could see that my mom was glad to have me there.
I look forward to all three of us walking together now that mom’s knee is no longer bent with wear. I might even remind God that my daughter still needs my mother. And I’ll listen to the wind, saying, “Everything will be alright.”