Mar

30

Ken Smith's Mother When I was ten years old my mother was in a sanatorium for tuberculosis. She suffered terribly. No cure or palliative relief was available in 1939. Her lungs were devoured by tubercular bacteria, wholly tuberculated. Her Pentecostal ministers and friends visited regularly, prayed their supplications, knelt in worship beside her sick bed. When the grip of death was obvious a nurse came for me, at my bed in the same sanatorium, to bring me to my mother's room; only not into her room. I and my small brother, small sister, were brought to the outside window of her room, to look in and wave to my mother through the glass; no contact allowed, for fear of contagion.

Unexpectedly my mother sat bolt upright, a startling sight given her emaciation. She was not looking at we children, however. She was looking straight towards the end of her bed. Nurses inside with her reported later that my mother had spoken to a vision of Jesus at the end of her bed, Jesus standing there with arms open in a gesture of welcome, "Welcome home."

That was my experience of her expiry. My life was never the same again; I became a delinquent at eleven, a teen alcoholic, a thief, a gambler, a convict; a man without hope.

Jeff Watson adds:

All I can say is "Wow"! I'm trying to deal with the memories of seeing my lovely wife die in my arms, and it's been hard, harder than I could ever manage. They say these feelings will subside with time, but I don't know about that. I do know that since her death, my soul-searching has lead me to make sure I fullful some promises I made to her in her final hours. Like you, Ken, I don't think my life will ever be the same again.

James Smyth writes:

I am a physician, and as an intern I did my training at Memorial - Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. An unfortunate part of that training is that I witnessed the death of several young cancer patients, including a few children. At the time, I was emotionally devestated by the the loss of those patients, but I understood that I couldn't truly understand the pain of those who had lost loved ones. Five years ago I lost my daughter after a struggle with a brain tumor that consumed most of her life. She was eight years old, and she was perfect in every way. In spite of her lot in life, she was optimistic, she made friends, she sang with the most beautiful soprano voice, and she never, ever wanted me to be sad. She thought that I was perfect, and I suppose that when I was around her, that I was. I'll never meet a person like her again in my life.


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4 Comments so far

  1. Lon Evans on March 31, 2008 4:48 am

    For Mr Smith, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Smyth,

    The game of trading is soulless. What a trader does each and every day benefits little, but the lonely self. It is an all-consuming endeavor. Any other approach demands failure.

    These individual memories of loss, in aggregate, remind that there is so much more to life than the occasional (if all encompassing) game.

    I lost my father when a child. He was there, and then gone.

    Mr. Smith,

    I know something of your experience, if not all.

    Mr. Watson,

    I hope to never know of your experience. I’m not that strong.

    Mr. Smyth,

    As a father, I pray to never share your loss. I don’t know that I would survive the same.

    To each, thank you for reminding this one fool soul that there is so much more to life than counting, or trending; than bottoms, or tops; than being right, or being wrong.

    Sincerely,

    lon

  2. Rob Steele on March 31, 2008 1:36 pm

    Wow. But Mr. Smith, surely that is not the end of the story. You clearly learned to write despite being a delinquent juvenile. The fact that you mention hope suggests that you found some. What happened?

  3. steve on April 1, 2008 3:46 pm

    I have thought long on whether to add something to this. I think I have made my decision. I have had three major brushes with death in my early life from 14-25. Each were accident related.Then in 1999-2002, I lost both parents to dread diseases while acting as their caregiver, and my brother-in-law to suicide. I guess this makes me qualified to discuss this subject. Through it all, I learned or acquired these things:One is that the Great L-rd gave me a body and a mind that can withstand almost anything. The rest is up to me to determine what to do with it from there.Second I grew more as a man through three challenging years than I had my prior 40+. That life is a journey and not a destination. Last I developed a great respect for others. I shall never forget the words of the wonderful Red Skelton who said it best "You can't take life too seriously, nobody here gets out alive." Humbly, sl.

  4. Mark on April 1, 2008 5:20 pm

    All three of these are very heartbreaking. In life sometimes there is no answer to the question "why". I too watched my father die a horrible death as a teen and the destruction that followed. Mr. Smith, you must be an extremely bright person to overcome what you did. You were dealt a bad hand and won anyway. Dr. Smyth, I read your comments several times. It brings tears to my eyes and one can only ask how such things can happen? I am certain that your daughter was beautiful and perfect in every way and that she still is beautiful and perfect in every way in Heaven. The angels will always watch over her.

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