My mother told us a wonderful story about her first date with my father.
“Sixty years ago Misha and I were young and in love. We had just started dating. It was spring in Siberia with a bright sun thawing the snow on the branches of the birch trees. The vast forest was filled with the sonorous sound of water dripping gently on to the white blanket below.
“We took the old rattling tram to the final stop, and then walked along a winding path, laughing and chasing each other, sometimes falling into the snow. Misha took my hand and asked me to close my eyes. When I opened them I saw a clearing, sparkling in the sun and full of delicate yellow and purple pasque flowers peeking out from under the drifts. It was so beautiful, romantic and unexpected, that I cried with happiness.”
My mother said that it was the best surprise of her life, a special gift she would never forget. I imagined how delightful it was to receive as a present her beloved Siberian flowers, the first harbingers of spring and warmth after a long, harsh winter.
This story my mother told me and my daughter, Maria, before her operation. It touched my heart so much — my mother did not think about herself, but about us, and she tried to calm us down. I held her hand and was very worried. The operation was not difficult, but mom is 80 and has been suffering for a long time from high blood pressure.
I do not like any operations, because during these moments something completely unforeseen could happen. I always feel uneasy and often think: “Where is the consciousness of a person during anaesthesia? To where does it fly? Will it return?”
Mom was taken to the operating room and we went to the waiting area, where on a large TV display one could see which stage my mother was in during the operating process. We talked, drank coffee, read and, from time to time, glanced at the screen. “The operation is ongoing” appeared in red letters next to her personal ID code.
At some point I looked at the screen and did not see the code. I stared, but could not find it among the other codes. “Probably the operation is over and now she’s being transferred to the post-op ward,” I told my daughter uncertainly.
Five minutes passed, and nothing. Then ten more. I counted every excruciating minute, and physically felt how slowly and viscously time moves.
I kept looking at the screen, hoping to see her numbers. In this moment, I was so scared I could not bring myself to call and find out the news. I did not even have the strength to talk with Maria.
I worried anxiously. My mind raced. Did I do everything I could for my mother? Did we find a good surgeon for her? What else could I have done?
The phone rang. My heart sank. I picked the phone up with a trembling hand and did not even say “hello”. I closed my eyes and held my breath. “Your mother was transferred to the ward, you can now come visit her.”
A great joy swept over me, and tears welled in my eyes. “Everything is fine!” I said to my daughter with a happy smile. “Let’s go to her, kiss her and tell her how much we love her! Tell her how important and special she is to us! What an example of kindness and courage she is!”
We’ll buy her a huge bouquet of flowers, Russian books, CDs of her beloved Tchaikovsky. We’ll ask her to tell us more about our family and about how she grew up, more about my father and the love that united them, and their many years together. We will finally finish the family tree that we began quite some time ago. And I want to learn more stories like that precious and unforgettable date in the spring forest!
Often we forget how fragile our life is. We naively believe that we and our loved ones will live for ever, that we will still have time to tell them how much we love them, hug and kiss them, call or unexpectedly visit, take care of them, help when they need it, give them a nice gift.
There will be some other time to thank them for their unconditional love, which only our mothers give. They want so little from us. They are so worried about us, they hide their own problems. Yet, they can be gone in an instant, walking through a door we cannot open.
My mother was sleeping when we got to her room. The sun cast a bright circle on the white sheets. I thought of the purple pasque flower glistening in the snow, and gently took her hand.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her on ninalondon.com