53: Mother’s Day Surprise

53: Mother’s Day Surprise

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Mother’s Day Surprise

Love is not singular except in syllable.

~Marvin Taylor

“I’m going for a bike ride and I’ll be back in about three hours,” my husband shouted as he cycled out of the driveway.

“Be careful,” I warned, “it’s windy!”

Mark—my husband of thirty-two years—was training for a triathlon and it didn’t matter what the conditions were; he was going to keep to his schedule.

I remained on the porch until Mark was out of sight and then as soon as I closed the front door, tears formed in my eyes. It was Mother’s Day 2008 and my husband didn’t remember. There were no surprises: no card, no flowers, no chocolates, and no brunch — just a wave goodbye.

Training took up all of Mark’s free time until there was nothing left for us. Triathlons and marathons had replaced all that was left of our failing marriage.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I got in the car and drove to Hershey, Pennsylvania — the sweetest place on earth — for some hot chocolate. There was a shopping mall right off Chocolate Avenue with a bakery and coffee shop. It wasn’t exactly Mother’s Day brunch, but it was better than staying home.

Hershey was only twenty minutes from our house, but it took much longer than usual because it was so windy. I had to grip the wheel hard or the car would veer off the road. Then it hit me. If I was having a hard time keeping the car on the road, how was Mark managing with his bike? A chill ran up my spine. I couldn’t ignore the feeling that something terrible was going to happen. My mind raced as I contemplated all the possibilities and nearly missed the Hershey exit. The parking lot for the bakery was nearly empty—another painful reminder that other families were celebrating Mother’s Day.

When I stepped inside the bakery, there were all kinds of surprises waiting on the pastry shelf. I picked out an iced lemon pound cake and ordered a large hot chocolate with whipping cream. The server asked if I wanted peppermint sprinkles on top and I nodded yes.

I sat near the window facing the parking lot and in between bites of pound cake and sips of hot chocolate I had a queasy feeling. I couldn’t explain it—just a strange sensation that something wasn’t right.

Just when I was about to take another bite of pound cake, my cell phone rang. I fumbled around in my purse and realized it was Mark’s number. Relief washed over me.

“Hi honey, where are you?” I prompted.

“Are you Connie Pombo?” asked an unfamiliar voice.

“Yes, and who are you?” I questioned.

“I don’t want to upset you, but your husband has been in an accident,” he explained with an unnerving calm. “I’m a paramedic and we’re on our way to Hershey Medical Center. We should be there in about ten minutes. Your husband had your number pre-programmed into his cell phone in case of any emergency.”

“What kind of accident?” I asked. I could hear sirens in the background and some mumbling, but no one was talking to me! And then my cell phone went dead; I had forgotten to recharge it. I scooped up my purse, grabbed my keys and ran to the car—leaving a trail of hot chocolate in my wake.

The next thing I knew I was at the Hershey Medical Center entrance looking for a parking space. I swerved into the first spot I could find and found myself at the reception desk. My heart was pounding hard and I was out of breath, but I forced out the words, “Mark Pombo—he’s coming by ambulance . . .”

I glanced at the receptionist’s name badge—Sandy—and tried to be more polite. “Hi Sandy, I got a call from the paramedics and they said they’re bringing my husband to the Emergency Room. Can you please help me?”

She gave me a knowing smile and asked me to take a seat in the waiting room while she made some phone calls. A few minutes later, she announced, “A clergy person will be right with you.”

“What?” I asked in pure disbelief.

“I’m sorry, but it’s hospital protocol whenever someone has been in a serious accident,” she said.

I heard the words, but they didn’t make sense. I slumped down in my chair and cupped my hands over my face as the tears came. When I looked up, I saw a name badge that said Clergy attached to a young man about the age of my older son.

As soon as he introduced himself, the receptionist announced that I could go back to Trauma Room #3. I followed the clergyman to the trauma room and wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Mark was hooked up to monitors and IVs while the nurses explained in medical terms that my husband had shattered his hip and femur. They were prepping him for surgery and I needed to sign some release forms. The surgeon explained that without immediate intervention, my husband would never walk again. After signing the papers, I was ushered to the waiting room while they finished prepping Mark for surgery.

Three hours passed and there was still no word about Mark. I was about to check with the receptionist when I heard my name being called. “The surgeon would like to speak with you,” the receptionist said. “Just pick up the phone by the door—where the red light is blinking.”

“Hello, this is Mark’s wife,” I said in quivering voice.

“Your husband is doing well,” the surgeon replied. “We had to place a rod in his femur and screws in his hip, but with time and physical therapy he’ll be able to walk again.”

Click.

That was it?

Later the surgeon came out to speak with me in person and explained that if it weren’t for the two trauma nurses who were cycling that morning and found my husband within the “golden hour” that he might not have been so fortunate.

“What two nurses?” I asked.

The surgeon shook his head in disbelief. “You mean you didn’t know?” he prompted. “Your husband was found by two off-duty trauma nurses. They treated your husband on the scene where his bike hit a pothole and threw him twenty feet. They stabilized him and called for an ambulance.”

Two miracles happened that day. I had no idea my husband was cycling in the Hershey area, yet I was just minutes from Hershey Medical Center when I received the call. And the two nurses who were cycling that morning weren’t supposed to be on that route; they took a shortcut!

On May 11, 2014—six years after my husband’s accident—Mark surprised me on Mother’s Day with bikes for both of us. The Mother’s Day card attached to mine read: “Please forgive me for all the wasted years of leaving you behind. I want to pedal with you for the rest of my life!”

~Connie K. Pombo

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