Just before Thanksgiving 1994, my mother, then 68, was hospitalized for her fourth open-heart surgery in Milwaukee. Following surgery, she had complications and was unable to be weaned off the ventilator for several weeks. For me, at home in Kansas City, Mo., and unable to see or even speak to my mother, those weeks were full of uncertainty and fear.
On Christmas morning, my mother was released from the hospital at last. Our family met in Milwaukee and went to Christmas dinner at the only place we could find open, a Chinese restaurant. I don't recall what our fortune cookies said, but I remember it being the most blessed Christmas in a long time. My mother is now 77 and every day is a gift.
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