59: The Miracle Lady

59: The Miracle Lady

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

The Miracle Lady

Reason is our soul’s left hand, Faith her right.

~John Donne

My mother and I always had a close relationship, but we saw life differently — until she was seventy-nine years old. Her faith was deep, but based on strict rules. A first-generation Italian-American, she was a creative first grade teacher with a zest for life. Used to dealing with six-year-olds, she enjoyed being in charge. My parents had a happy marriage because her fun-loving bossiness balanced perfectly with my father’s kind and gentle Pennsylvania Dutch personality.

I was an idealistic child of the New Age, writing poetry and fascinated with yoga. I knew my mother loved me and was proud of my accomplishments, but she didn’t share my belief that there is more to life than what we can see and hear.

My beloved father, a high school teacher and professional musician, who said he felt closer to God in his garden than in church, died before my twenty-first birthday. At the age of fifty-four, my tough, strong mother was suddenly vulnerable and frightened. Eventually she regained her courage and returned to teaching full-time.

At age thirty-nine, living with my husband and working in Manhattan, I was hit with the news that I had breast cancer. After a diagnosis of cancer, life is never the same. Fortunately, the cancer hadn’t spread, but I needed surgery and radiation. Mom insisted on taking the bus to New York to visit me after my operation. When I saw her from my hospital window, striding down the street in her red coat, I knew everything would be fine.

Cancer caused me to reflect on my life and feelings even more deeply. I joined a dream-sharing class and discussed a dream about my father. I was at our summer house in Avalon, in the garden he loved. Mom was inside. Suddenly, my father appeared to me in a radiant glow. He told me that I would recover from cancer, and to try to get along with mother — even though we were so different. Then he turned into a beautiful monarch butterfly and flew away. The butterfly is the archetypal symbol of eternal life in many cultures.

Mom retired at sixty-five and lived year-round at Avalon. She enjoyed getting together with family and friends, church, civic groups, crafts, gardening and travel. Her cerebral aneurysm at the age of seventy-nine changed everything.

She lapsed into a coma following emergency surgery. The doctors were pessimistic about her recovery. Standing at Mom’s bedside in the critical care unit, thinking she was dying and remembering stories of the comforting white light many people saw in that limbo world between life and death, I tried to help my mother by shouting, “Mom, can you see the light? Go toward the light!”

Mom remained in a coma for several weeks. We didn’t know whether to pray for her to live or die, because the doctors said that if she came out of the coma, she might be severely brain damaged. One day, a good friend was praying over her and said loudly, “Jo, wake up and come back to us.” Mom suddenly opened her eyes and gave him a big smile! She looked around the room, saw a rose in a vase by her bed, and said “beautiful” — her first word since going into the coma. The doctors called her “The Miracle Lady” and we were thrilled.

Soon, however, a CT scan revealed fluid buildup in her brain, which could cause her death. The only hope was a risky operation to help the flow of fluid from the brain and through the body. She might die during surgery, but we knew Mom would want to take the chance.

“We almost lost her,” the surgeon said after the operation. My husband and I were there when Mom opened her eyes.

Looking directly at me, she asked, “Where is my mother?”

“Grandmom died a long time ago,” I replied, feeling dismayed.

“But she was standing here at the foot of my bed, with her arm out toward me and a beautiful garden behind her. She wanted me to go with her.”

I was stunned that my usually skeptical mother had just had a near-death experience. “What did you say to her?” I asked.

“I told her I didn’t want to go with her yet — that I wanted to return to life — that she could come back for me when it was my time.”

Her recovery was swift, amazing the doctors. She returned to her own home with a new belief in miracles. Not only did she heal in body, but in spirit. Mom and I became closer than ever, with a new sense of connection. I felt that my father’s request in the dream had been fulfilled.

It was a special day when she took my arm and walked to the altar of her church and read a prayer she had written, thanking the people for their visits and prayers, ending with the words: “May I be a constant reminder to everyone that God still performs miracles.”

In her seven remaining years, Mom was blessed by the birth of two great-grandchildren. She also enjoyed the “little things” in life more than ever — watching the birds at her window feeder, gazing in wonder at the sunset, and connecting with God and nature on a deeper level. Sometimes we just sat together quietly, holding hands and looking at the ocean.

One night, on the evening of the full moon, I tried to call Mom at our usual time, but there was no answer. I tried again when I got to the YMCA to teach my yoga class. Still no answer. I phoned my husband and asked him to call to be sure she was all right.

At the end of each yoga class, there is a period of meditation. As my students and I sat in our circle, I prayed for Mom. Suddenly, I felt her spirit within me — joyfully letting me know that she was passing on to that other place! I drove home in a daze. I knew what had happened.

My husband met me at the door. “Honey, I’m so sorry, but we lost her. I called twice and finally got her on the phone. She had fallen and was too weak to get up. I told her to hang up and that I’d call the rescue squad right away. She wasn’t in pain and didn’t sound frightened. The police called a few minutes later and told me that they were talking to her as they came in the door, and then she just stopped responding. When they reached her, she was gone. She died at 7:45.”

That was exactly the time I was praying and felt her spirit move through me. I know in my heart that as the rescue team came through Mom’s front door, my grandmother appeared to her again. This time, Mom decided to take my grandmother’s hand and go with her.

~Linda Texter Hall

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