Friday, March 6, 2009

The Beat Goes On

My 77-year old mother took down two trees in her front yard this morning. Then she called me and asked me which bags of mulch she should buy to put in her flower beds. After the horror subsided over the trees... felled by a woman with a hand saw and 12 stents in her heart ... I said, "No, are not hefting bags of mulch." Then I suggested she ask my sister, who lives in her town, to help her. "I have a good wheelbarrow," she said. An hour later, my sister was calling me from her car and we were agonizing over the very real possibility that she was going to need to call an ambulance to mom's house. The tree work did not sit well with mom's chicken-wired heart. We need our hearts to work. That little fist-sized muscle in the middle of our bodies is solely responsible for keeping our brain supplied with oxygenated blood. The brain simply will not tolerate much in the way of oxygen deprivation. When the heart stops pumping, the brain thinks the movie is over and it begins to turn off the lights and lock the doors. I'm happy to report that my mom's heart is still pumping tonight - re-wired with a brand new set of stents and busy keeping the brain amused with another round of "gotcha!" I understand heart instability can be hereditary, and I've mentioned my concerns about that to my doctor once or twice. He usually replies with some version of, "Well, what are we going to do about heredity?" Indeed. What are we to do about that? It's an intensely stubborn heart sitting in the middle of my mother... flawed almost to death...but fiercely determined to see each day's work through. It is a big and open heart, one that has welcomed the lonely and bandaged the hurting for as long as I can remember. It melts when her favorite aria is sung, hardens when the world rejects the weak, bursts when her grandchildren write her a letter, dances when the family is gathered, and breaks when any of us cries. And it is beating its own rhythm tonight...keeping its own time. That amazing little fist-sized muscle. Not such a bad heart to inherit... Peace.


dhello said...

We're so thankful for wise, experienced doctors, quick-thinking, loving daughters, and a compassionate God who embraces your mom as her repaired heart continues to beat!

Mama de la Paz said...

Update on this 77-year old wonder woman:

She leaves the hospital today with SIXTEEN stents in her heart. Every medical professional she's seen has told her: "Call a lawn service next time!" Perhaps the wisest counsel we four daughters have received, though, came from good friend my mom's age. He said:

We all have a way we choose to live out our lives, and your mother's way is highly admirable; it is an expression of guts, energy, caring and a will to live meaningfully. So, don't put too many restrictions on her.