My sister went to a hospital emergency room complaining of an excruciating headache that had become unbearable. Nearly four hours later, a doctor informed us that he had found a brain tumor.
With surgery, he told us, she might last six to nine months. It was incurable. We were devastated.
My sister Fran was eternally devoted to her family.
She went to college with me in Huntsville, Ala., but when Mother was hospitalized with a venomous spider bite, Fran came home and stayed.
When Mother had the first of three strokes, Fran was the one who called me at the university to tell me what was going on.
When Mother miraculously awakened from a three-month coma, Fran was with her at the hospital.
When Mother was released to continue her recuperation at home, Fran told her siblings to go on with their lives. She wasn’t going anywhere.
As Fran was dying, I learned something about the depth of a child’s love for her mother, and a mother’s love for her child.
Mother’s first stroke left her with 95 percent hearing loss, and weakness on her right side. Yet I saw her expend every ounce of energy she could trying to take care of Fran.
At times, I heard her crying bitterly and praying intensely for divine intervention. Neither appeared to be forthcoming.
Francine Chandler died in 2005. She was only 44. As Fran slowly slipped away, Mother reached over and rubbed her eyes closed. Fran was gone, but so was a part of Mother.
A mother’s love is patient. It is kind. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not self-seeking. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
A mother’s love never fails.
Several weeks ago, my mother, Mary Chandler, spent the weekend with me. In the course of our dialogue, she became emotional.
“Danny, I think I am coming down with Alzheimer,” she said. “I am forgetting things, losing things, and can’t remember things I used to know without thinking about them. I don’t know what to do ’cause I know it won’t get better. I don’t want to be a burden on y’all.”
I assured her that her children would be here to help. I urged her to focus on the present — her next birthday, my son’s impending high school graduation.
I redirected the conversation and found a way for us to share a laugh, although the tears were flowing inside of me. Seeing the distress in her face was heartbreaking. She is fading, and she knows it.
We are not taking time to despair. We are going to enjoy this Mother’s Day, and every one thereafter.
Danny R. Chandler, a Realtor, is the founder of Mississippi FOCUS and the Chandler Foundation Scholarship programs.