Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The hug that changed me

It was about 2 1/2 years ago that I answered a phone call from my dad. For those of you that don't know my dad, he's a man of very few words and usually listens in on the phone while I chat with my mom, and occasionally he'll chime in with a comment. So, to get a call specifically from him was at the least unusual. It turned out he had been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and had been suffering the effects of a soccer-ball-sized tumor in his abdomen.

There was talk that he would have surgery to remove the tumor, but many of his lymph nodes had already started mutating into serious, untreatable ones. The doctor recommended immediate chemotherapy, rather than go through surgery and wait months afterward to start chemo. Every month, my parents made the hour-long trip to the clinic to receive an aggressive dose of chemotherapy. The days following treatment were miserable for my dad. He described it like having the flu...times 10.

Why share this with you when we're talking about love stories this week? I've always known my parents loved each other, although, like all of us, they experienced ups and downs of the daily stresses and celebrations in their marriage. I have noticed in my parents, since my dad's diagnosis and treatment, a much deeper love for one another than ever before.

(at our family reunion campout this past summer - aren't they cute??)
At my mom's quilt retreat that same year, my sisters, aunt and parents were sitting around one night chatting and catching up. Dad's treatment had taken a toll on his energy, and he decided to turn in early. He stood up, said goodnight, and gave my mom a warm, lingering embrace that spoke volumes to me of their love. I've always known them to show affection toward each other, but this small moment seemed different somehow, more personal and meaningful, and I was thankful to have witnessed it.
I decided that day that, whenever I felt the prompting, I would take an extra moment to let the dearest and most important people in my life know that they are loved. Just today, my mom said, "When you're faced with challenges and the future seems a little shaky, it makes you appreciate just what you have." Thanks, Mom and Dad, for showing me what true love really is.


  1. Thank you, Jen, for sharing this story. It made me cry (what else is new?). As we grow together year after year, we become more in tuned with each other, know our limits and appreciate each other more...hope we can make it to 75 years!!!

  2. As always, you inspire me, Jen. Mom and dad, I am SO glad you are both with us and that you have MANY, many more years ahead. Mom/Dad, Jen, sis, and Darrell, just because we don't see each other often doesn't mean we don't think of you all the time. I love and miss you all. When we are getting together--this summer?? Thanks for the sweet story, Jen. As always, I'm bawling. ;)