Thursday, December 8, was the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day nine months before Mary’s “birthday” of September 8, which is called the Feast of the Nativity. According to Catholic dogma approved in 1854, the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin on this day.
It was also the day this week that my mother, a.k.a. the Radish, went in for a repair of her mitral heart valve. She stayed under a little longer to fix the tricuspid too.
My sister, Mood Ring Momma, my father, and I had a long time to fellowship together in the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, delivering my mother at 5 a.m. for her operation. Scripture and cheesy Jesus photos adorned the walls of the hospital lobby and waiting rooms. I was at total peace, even as the clock ticked past the time the OR nurse was supposed to have provided an update.
At some point, it occurred to me that December 8 was a Feast Day of Mary and that I should be on the lookout for her. I know this because I had hoped that 12/8/98 would be Thing 3’s birthday, coming two years and three months after Thing 2’s birthday, 9/8/96. I like even numbers. The only drawback: most Mexican Catholics born on this date, be they male or female, are named Concepcion (Conception) and go by the (unattractive to me) nickname of Concho/Concha/Conchita. Would I have caved to the pressure???
The first apparition, if you can even call it that, was a teensy blue medal worn by a former cardiothoracic OR nurse named Linda who chatted us up in the waiting room. Her Aunt Mary had bought it for her at the Vatican. At 67 years old, Linda rocked her scrubs. I have never seen such a glamorous nurse. Although this was a pea sized appearance, Linda was a veritable angel of information.
The second apparition was far creepier (?)/comforting/scalp tingling. As the afternoon wore on, I received a text message from an unknown New York number with an accompanying photo of a double tombstone. The text said, “Dad would have been 100 yrs old today. Mary & I just stopped by.” The name of the dad was Joseph. Now, obviously, I was mistakenly included on someone’s text string. (Or was I???). In any event, I felt that Joe and his wife, who shares a name with Mood Ring Momma, were looking after the Radish, perhaps during a perilous part of my mother’s journey. As was Mary.
Naturally, I was on the look out for the third apparition. Nearly catatonic by the end of the day, I had no further sightings and went to bed nervous for my mother, who we left unconscious and contorted in pain. With half an ear open all night for a phone call, I slept very little. If I am honest, I was also a little disappointed there was no trinitarian sighting.
But lo and behold, Mary showed up the next day in the mailbox in the form of my mother’s Christmas card, a little overdue but right on the money. The Radish had used the above image of Mary for her annual epistle. Here is her message, which bears reprinting:
“Radish here. This is a Heart of Mary icon which I stole off my daughter’s blog. It spoke to me because it is simple, timeless, and her heart is showing, and maybe this year we can show a little religion. Her heart represents all her joys and sorrows. Further, Papa Bear and I with both our hearts wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017. This year we are so appreciative of our families. And those who are our friends, you will never know how much you mean to us. Be open to miracles this year. XOXO”
A photo of my mother, crazy-haired, and my father, grinning insanely, hovering over their breakfast bowls, graces the back of the card.
Day Three post operation the Radish slept a lot but was not in pain. Tomorrow, Nurse Ratched is on duty. We are going to get that granny moving. This seems to be part of my fate but with Mary, Joseph, and Cheesy Jesus on my team, how can I not surrender to the season??? Perhaps at 52, I am finally learning the true meaning of Christmas: waiting for a miracle or ten, stripped down and wearing a backless gown, joy found breathing in a sheet swaddled recliner.
N.B. I did not edit this so if there are any errors, so be it. You’ll understand. Also, it is Broccoli Babe’s birthday. She is an angel encourager.
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