I could feel the vibrations through my pocket , the never ending buzz caused me to stop in my tracks . My voicemail begins to play , and the heaviness in my father’s voice fills the silence of the airy night. ” I have been trying to reach you , I know you must be working but I wanted to tell you that your mother was in the hospital earlier…call me when you get a chance” he said.
It was around 8:00 p.m. and I had just left work, I was walking to the train station to go home when I listened to the message.
My father is not someone who typically calls me on a regular basis, he only calls when something important occurs, therefore upon hearing that this involved my mother I called him back immediately.
When I called my father back, he revealed to me that my mother had gone for her routine check up and it was discovered that she had breast cancer. I stood in front of the station still clutching the phone as words failed to escape my lips. I was in a state of shock. Even after I was able to get off the phone, I remained standing there until I succumbed to tears. My parents live in FL and I have been attending school in Boston the entire time, so finding out my mother had breast cancer at the time made it that much more difficult. It was in the middle of the fall semester, the news affected me in ways that were indescribable at times. I could not focus in class, I did not want to go to work, the emotional toll was beyond measure. My aunt, who lives in FL as well, called me one day and told me I had to come down there. It was already in the middle of the semester at school, I had to make a decision about what to do next.
I then decided I needed to take a leave of absence from school so I could go be by my mother’s side. I informed my teachers of the situation, and thankfully they were supportive and understanding. I had to fill out forms from different departments of the school for the leave of absence. The last department I went to was the bursar’s office where they handle billing and payments. I ended up in Joy’s office, I told her about my mother and explained how emotionally drained I was. She told me I should be with my mother, that school will always be here. As I sat in the chair talking, she was on her computer typing when she suddenly asked me “so when do you want to go see your mom?” And she followed by asking me which days would work fir me to fly out. I paused for a moment then responded ” I can’t, I don’t really have the money ”
(This was near November, before Thanksgiving) .
She continued pressing” Just tell me which days would work for you.” I proceeded to tell her the days that would be feasible.
To my complete surprise, she had been looking up air plane tickets the entire time and ended up purchasing the ticket for me.
That was the most touching, generous , random act of kindness I have ever encountered from a stranger. Joy lives up to her namesake, she brought that and more that day when she bought that ticket for me.
I flew down to see my mother during the week of thanksgiving, with my birthday being the day before. Seeing my mother’s face was the best gift. My mother has a very cheerful and positive spirit, she manages to find the good in everything. While everyone else around her was falling apart due to her diagnoses, she remained the pillar of strength for us when it should have been the other way around. As she began to loose her waist length hair, she would start wearing wigs and still had a smile on her face. She told me there’s some things in life you have no control over, that she let go and let God.
That was in the fall of 2010, since then My mother underwent a mastectomy and has been in remission ever since. She is a survivor, her resilience and strength has been a testament to hope.
This is a poem I had written for my mother.
Her name alone is like sugar being poured into wine.
She is shrouded in strength, with the will to defy the odds. No weapon formed against her shall
prosper, not even the sinister beast called breast cancer.
She radiates beauty despite her scars.
Her love is strong enough to spawn the waking of a new dawn.
She is a beaming light, her energy sustains those around her.
She is woman, encompassing life and all that inspires.
She is who I call mother.