1972 was best – stitches and all

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2013

Through the years on Thanksgiving Day, my thoughts sometime float back to the joy that filled my heart on that day in 1972.

There I was with my husband, son and daughter, seated at the round maple table in my parent’s dining room along with them and my maternal grandmother. A Thanksgiving turkey, browned to perfection and looking like one you see in a magazine, centered the table. How my mother had managed it and all the trimmings, plus polishing the house to a high sheen, while working full time was beyond me.

I was so happy that even if there had been a little dust in the house, I would not have noticed it. Outside, the sun seemed brighter and the turning leaves on the trees looked more beautiful than I ever remembered.

I looked around the table at the faces of my loved ones. My heart swelled with thankfulness. I saw our youngest, our daughter, in animated conversation with my daddy. Our son was reaching for an extra helping of turkey while my husband ladled gravy on his mashed potatoes and dressing. My grandmother sat quietly, a bit overwhelmed with all our noise. My mother presided, passing this and that, seeing that everyone had what they needed.

I had only left the hospital two days earlier. The stitches had just been removed from an incision that stretched from right below the hollow of my throat to nine inches down my middle. It was so sore I bent a little as I walked. The scar was ugly, but I never once fretted over that. I never have since. I was alive and doing nicely; that was what counted.

Early that month, my husband and I listened as a doctor told us he had bad news and good news for me. His examination revealed I had a hole in my heart. The good news was that a surgeon could close it. The problem required open-heart surgery. His words stunned us. Fear raced through me like a streak of lightning. I sat numbed as he explained the surgery and my condition, probably a birth defect. I had vaguely heard of open-heart surgery, but it was long before it was being performed at hospitals all over the United States daily as it is now.

Our daughter, a middle school student, broke down and wept when we broke the news to her. Our son, five years older, was speechless for a few minutes. Both my parents’ faces went pale upon hearing what I faced. Mother fretted and worried openly. Daddy said little, holding his feelings inside.

I was humbled when I learned so many people were praying for me, even some who did not even know me. Through prayer, I received a serenity that sustained me through surgery and recuperation.

On that Thanksgiving Day, I was ready to get on with my life. I am thankful on Thanksgiving and every day for the way God has blessed me so abundantly.