MY MOM STRANGLED ME, that much is true.
I can’t count the times Mom tried to make me feel special. Her most impressive story was how she had strangled me at birth. The Doctors at St. Francis Hospital told her that the umbilical cord had silenced her 5th babies’ cry for good. She wouldn’t give up.
She often recounted her prayers to let me live. And how that led to a second chance.
Of course, her unintentional strangulation didn’t work all those years ago but prayers did. So, I prize above all her prayers. Wherever I was in the world, from that first breathe to now I knew she was praying.
I had seen her tears and prayers for my brothers in Vietnam, her other children — when she didn’t know I was watching. That comforted me on more than one occasion, as when running from thugs firing guns into the night and shouting “Death to America” in then socialist Peru on Christmas Eve in the Andes 1972.
There were many other dangerous occasions, almost too numerous, and never recounted; but one I’ll share. Two weeks before I came home on a cliffside dirt road at midnight in the Andes again, peering down 1,000’s of feet to a river below from a rickey bus filled with people, chickens, pigs (right out of movie “Romancing the Stone”) I prayed, thought of my mother, and said, “Now I know I am going to die.”
About a year before she passed away she emailed me a photo of one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It was a typical one-lane winding dirt highway up in the Andes which I had been familiar with. “Jim, were you ever on a road like that during your mission in Peru?” she asked.
I chuckled and simply answered, “Yes Mom. And thanks for your prayers.”
Why is it boys at war or far from home always worry about their Mom’s feelings in those desperate moments they don’t or can’t write home about.
I could write a book about it…
Oh, yeah. I did.