“Sally Agallo had reached the end of her tether,” said an article in Drum, an East African weekly magazine. “So one day she boarded a ferry from Mombasa and travelled far into the ocean, where she leapt overboard.”
“Amazingly,” Sally told Drum, “instead of sinking, I floated. I could hear clearly as people screamed that someone had thrown herself in the ocean. Desperate to sink, I forced myself under the water, but something held me up—very surprising, as I am a non-swimmer. It was during this time that God spoke to me and informed me that He had plans for me. He would not allow me to drown myself.”
Ana was two years and eight monthsold when we first noticed it was difficult for her to put weight on her left foot. It was almost undetectable at first, but grew worse by the day. When neither her orthopedist nor her pediatrician could diagnose the problem, they ordered a CAT scan.
The test results and prognosis were devastating. Ana had three malignant tumors in her brain—medulloblastoma, a very aggressive type of cancer, already in the fourth and final stage and already affecting the bone marrow in various parts of her body. The doctors urged us to have great courage, but to prepare for the worst, as this cancer usually advances very rapidly in children. Our world went dark.
Can one person really make a difference? One “ordinary” middle-aged woman made a difference in my life.
I was a good girl, and everybody said so. I was the head girl of my grammar school in England, with top marks in all my exams. I won a coveted university scholarship that included trips abroad. I volunteered every week at a children’s home and worked with severely mentally challenged children in my spare time. I was dedicating my life to helping others through clinical psychology. I had been a Sunday school teacher for years, and didn’t drink, smoke, or take drugs. What could possibly be missing? One person saw it almost immediately.
The greatest gifts my mother ever gave me were the gifts of courage and faith.
Some parents teach their children courage, determination, or any of a number of other virtues by reading to them of the great deeds done by great men and women of the past, in the hope that it will motivate them to find such things on their own.
But not my mother.
It was an unseasonably hot, humid June day on the East Coast of the United States. Summer had enfolded us in her sticky arms, and the kids at Calvert Country School had decided that the most appropriate activity of the day was cooling off in the lawn sprinkler system.
Mothers give so much. Their entire lives are a gift of love to their families. We journey far from our beginnings, and then something tugs at our heartstrings and draws us home to rediscover who we are and where we came from.
I sat down with my mother a few months before she passed away and asked her some questions about her life. If you haven’t ever done that, I suggest you do. It’s sure to help you appreciate your mother even more.
It was Easter 2002 in Jerusalem. The cries of merchants rang out through the narrow cobblestone streets of the old city, and the scents of a thousand exotic spices hung in the air. Colorful Palestinian embroidery festooned stalls displaying glittering oriental jewelry. Rhythmic Arabic pop songs blasted from music shops as throngs of tourists, pilgrims, and locals mingled. Beneath the surface gaiety there was tension, however. Small groups of Israeli soldiers nervously fingered automatic weapons on every corner.
It was January 2001, and Dad was 81 and bending under the weight of his grief. Mum had left us less than two months earlier. In his weak state, a harsh viral infection paralyzed a vocal cord and reduced his voice to a faint whisper. He couldn’t call out if he needed help, so he had to carry a bell with him wherever he went. Dad is by nature very sociable, so not being able to talk was difficult in more ways than one.
We did the rounds of ear, nose, and throat doctors, voice specialists, throat surgeons—the works. One doctor thought he detected a possible growth in Dad’s throat, which might need attention. Another recommended surgery to replace the paralyzed vocal cord with some sort of gadget. The list of diagnoses and possible cures went on and on.