|One evening, when I was about nineteen, my grandmother came to me and handed me a sheaf of papers. "What's this?" I asked.
"Your mother wrote this," she replied. "She submitted it to a woman's magazine, but I don't think it was ever published."
I felt a thrill. "What's it about?" I asked her.
"Read it and find out," she told me.
Read it and find out... discover what my mother thought about, what she felt. Learn something new about her, to add to the few precious memories I had of her. Hear her "voice", through her writing - as real as anything spoken. Faint pencil on fading, yellowing notepad paper. Words scratched, crossed out, redirected with arrows and editing notes. Her handwriting, so like my sister's. Her writing style, so like mine. A connection, a similarity, a trait I never knew we shared.
Grandma said it never had been published. It has been now. Here. I think she'd be pleased.
"A Change of Heart" by Carol A. TrippNot enough money - got to stretch that budget and save more - save for the day I can stay home from work - for the day I can have another child.
The house isn't just right - the breezeway should be finished - the cellar - that patio we've wanted for three years. Christmas is coming - where do we find the money... Foolishness - such trivial problems.
And then open heart surgery and a change of heart in more ways than the medical aspect.
I was one of those wives - my outlook on life was of anxiety and one ridiculous problem after another.
My husband, too. Both of us complaining and troubled with wants for our home, ourselves and our 7 year old daughter, Susan. Why complain... we had come a long way in our years of marriage - new home, furnishings, new car - all the material wants.
In contemplating pregnancy, we were forced to take into consideration a heart murmer, discovered when I was two years of age - a minor problem that never slowed me down. I played basketball in school, field hockey, ran a half mile every morning for the track team, and in my married years carried two children (we lost our second child shortly after birth), but never a problem with my heart. But my doctor, with his years of experience, would not consent to a pregnancy. He felt that the risk of carrying a child and not knowing what was wrong with my heart far exceeded finding out, by a heart cartherization.
Then one day, six weeks ago, while camping on vacation, I had my first and quite possibly only warning. I passed out - quite unexpectedly - and I remember thinking as everything and everyone around me shouting concern faded away - I'm dying - someone help me. But I could say nothing - I couldn't make my lips move. When I came to, minutes later, the seriousness of what had happened was overcome by my family, the sunshine of the day, the children swimming, all the world back exactly as I had left it and again I took life for granted. I wanted to ignore my warning, not wanting to believe what was ahead.
When we returned from vacation common sense made me call my doctor to report the incident. Bless him, for he realized the seriousness, despite my attitude and talked me into at least watching a heart cartherization (an exploratory by which a cathara is run from the artery in the arm into the heart valves). Watching is in itself quite an experience. After seeing a woman, slightly older than myself, undergoing the procedure, I felt I too could stand the discomfort.
Four weeks ago I was admitted into the hospital. The next day I had my catherization, to find that the aortic valve was badly clogged and couldn't function any longer without surgery. Panic... I was terrified... had it not been for my doctor and two wonderful surgeons - their encouragement and compassion - I would never have been up to it.
The operation was hell, to say the least. The pain and fear of dying was almost unbearable. But I kept telling myself that it wasn't my time - I'd had a warning that day at camp so surely I would pull through this. Finding only a pinhole left through the aortic valve, the surgeons replaced the valve with one of stainless steel. I believe I found God through my ordeal. I have never been a very strong believer - only calling upon Him with a want, never a thanks, but He came to me in the strangest way - through another patient, a young woman named Sandy. She is a beautiful girl, strong and brave through her own operation, an illiosiptomy, yet finding the time and patience to teach me to pray and how to bring God into my heart. Five days and nights in intensive care, so full of pain I couldn't even cry, no sleep, the walls changing color - moving objects on the ceiling - horrible nightmares and pain. I remembered how Sandy had told me to pray and I prayed and I cried. A very young nurse brought me a radio, and it being Sunday night, tuned it in on Tennessee Ernie Ford's spiritual album. And to "Nearer My God To Thee" I fell asleep for the first sleep without pain and nightmare since my operation. Isn't that God - showing He too believed in me? Many other surreal instances showed me that He is here.
I came home from the hospital 12 days after my operation - record time for such major surgery. I came with such a different outlook on life. The simple problems are still there but no longer do we dwell on them. Everything is so different for me, not only physically, but mentally. It's like being born again, and I guess actually I was.
Because of the medication that goes with my valve, the doctors advise that there is a risk involved in becoming pregnant. A risk to the unborn child. A risk we cannot and will not take. But this no longer throws us - for now we are contemplating adoption. Could this be the course He wanted us to follow? Had our second child lived we would have been more than content with two children. No thoughts of adopting.
Wanting another child in our family leads us to follow this course. I believe this is the plan He had for us all along.
Can you see now that everything happens for a reason? No matter how bleak the outlook may be, look for the good in it and make the most of that good.
I don't say everyone must have a crisis to renew their life. I don't say that by what I went through everyone should benefit and change their outlook as to what really is important in life. I only wish to share my experience with some who have had similar, to say I know what you've gone through. I believe I will benefit - I will make every day of my life count and never again take life for granted.
I've had a change of heart.
She also attached a draft of the cover letter she was going to send along with the story -
"Can you use this in any way? I'm not a writer, as you can probably see; just someone who had quite an experience and wants to share it with others.
It's probably very foolish of me to even think you'd consider publishing such an article but if you could use any part of it, rearranged in any way you see fit, some of your readers might enjoy it as I enjoy such articles in your magazine. Please advise, whatever your decision.
Some of my thoughts, upon reading this:
I have a great respect for what she must have gone through. I just can't imagine having a major health crisis at the age I'm at right now. Asthma and eczema are annoying enough. I know my childhood doctors kept a close eye on me after I was born, in case my mother's condition was hereditary. But my sister's heart and my own are strong and healthy. My sister herself has four healthy, beautiful kids. My mother would have gotten a kick out of being a grandmother, I think.
I wish there was a way I could see how different my life would have been if she had lived. Everything happens for a reason, as she wrote, and I probably wouldn't be here, where I am today, if she had lived. I wouldn't have went to live with my grandmother, met my husband through her church, moved to Arizona, gotten my job at AcronymCo, divorced my ex, met Calvin, built this wonderful house, or had two delightful step-children in my life.
Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it just takes many years for that reason to become apparent.