Wednesday March 20, 1996, was the last day my mother was up and about on her feet before she took sick with a stroke. It’s hard to believe that today is exactly twenty years now since that sadly unforgettable day. Our lives changed from that day onwards. But through it all I experienced first hand the loving presence and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At that time in 1996 I was a young teacher who was preparing for the end of the second term. I was teaching a school where second term exams were administered; for some unknown reason I had decided to prepare and type my exams quite ahead of schedule. I was to find out that that was God’s way of helping me to be prepared and have my work out of the way.
I remember the lunch hour on that Wednesday very vividly. At a nearby church I had gone to a 12 o’ clock service. The preacher was a lady who spoke about preparing for God’s blessing by faith. She preached that if you want God to bless you with something–if you want to achieve a goal–don’t wait until it becomes real before you start preparing or living as though it is real. At that time I was thinking of getting my driver’s license. I made up my mind then and there that I would enroll in driving school. I wouldn’t wait for a time when I own a vehicle. I would do it now.
Because it was Wednesday, my local church was having Bible Study. And I went that night. One memory is embedded in my mind from that service. Just as we were about to close, and the final prayer was being prayed, I felt an overpowering sense of God’s presence. I felt backwayrds and landed comfortably on the pew behind of me. That was something that never happened to me unless I was up at the altar.
But God was preparing me.
I got home around 9 o’ clock and a favourite show that my mom and I enjoyed watching was just starting. But I noticed that mommy was not there. I found her in her bedroom. She was sitting on her bed reading the Bible. So I said, “Mommy, look Murder, She Wrote showing and you nar watch.” I can’t remember her exact words, but her response was that she prefers to read the Bible and spend time with God than to watch Murder, She Wrote. Because mommy was had an established routine of praying and reading the Bible at 12 midday and 6 pm daily I did not think too much of the response.
I, however, went in the living room to watch the show. Sometime after, mommy came out and stood behind of me. She said something to make a joke with me and swung her hand playfully as if to give me a clout. I playfully ducked and dodged her hand. Later on I would wish I had allowed mommy to hit me one last time. I should also interject that one of my brothers, Godwin, who was a police officer, came home that same day to spend the night–something that was not a frequent occurence.
After that playful incident mommy went to bed and so did I.
But before I continue let me take you on a flashback to two incidents that happened in the week leading up to this day, Wednesday March 20, 1996. Mommy used to go to the vegetable market in town to sell every Friday. On Friday March 15, 1996, I met her at the bus stop waiting to catch a van to come home. I was of course coming from work. She got a van. I had to wait because I was “travelling monthly” with a particular van. But I sensed an overwhelming desire to give my mother a $3 which was the passage or bus fare to get home. So as she was getting into the van I handed her the money.
“What this for?” she asked.
“To pay your passage,” I replied.
The second incident happened the day after this. On Saturday March 16, 1996, while mommy was at home, we heard a male voice shouting “Tantie Clorita!” Mommy got up from her seat in the living room and went to se who it was. To her surprise–and mine too–it was one of her nephews from Carriere. The young man was the son of her sister, my “Tantie Dona”. He hadn’t visited in a long time. I can tell that both nephew and aunt were glad to see each other. I watched them talking happily for a long time. Then I went about doing other Saturday morning stuff.
No let’s get back to the night of Wednesday March 20, 1996.
Somewhere in the middle of my usually sweet and comfortable sleep I was awaken by my father’s voice calling me. I went to the voice, still sleepy. I saw Daddy and my police brother trying to pick mommy up from a sitting position on the ground. She had told Daddy that she was going to urinate but didn’t get very far.
The scene had me stunned and I could not quite figure out what was happening; however, we all tried and eventually got her back in bed and laid her on her back. A few minutes after that we saw mommy almost “stretching out” and her eyes rolling back in her head.
If I was never frightened before in my life, I was frightened then. My brother went and opened the top half of the back door in the kitchen. I think he had tears in his eyes.
I went to my room and turned on my stereo, selecting Shirley Caesar’s “He will do it again!” I turned the volume up.
We determined it was best to get mommy to the hospital. I called a neighbour, but when he realized that mommy couldn’t sit up he advised us to call an ambulance. That we did.
The ambulance came. We got mommy onto the strethcher and into the ambulance. Here is where some bizzare things happened. The ambulance could not start. The driver tried and tried but to no avail. In fact, no lights at all were coming on. There were no ignition lights. There were no headlamp lights. There were no siren lights.
I knew then that Satan was trying to keep my mother away from getting medical help. Then I have to say what happened next was nothing less than a miracle.
The neighbour whom I had called before and who said to get the ambulance, he suddenly showed up. He was a mechanic and was able to get the ambulance’s engine started. But there still was no light on the ambulance. So this God-sent neighbour volunteered to drive in front of the ambulance straight to the hospital. Daddy went with the ambulance.
By the time I got back into the house, I saw it was about five minutes past one in the morning. I went back to sleep.
There were some very scary, sad and lonely times in the days and weeks following. One of which was when the doctor who was looking after mommy in the hospital met me in the capital city, Kingstown, and told me right then and there that I should not expect my mother to come back out of the hospital because she only has a 5% chance of surviving. That news I heard in the middle of a crowded street in Kingstown.
Mommy baked our Christmas cakes that year. Hallelujah.
Mommy came out of the hospital on April 17, 1996. She would go on to live for another eleven years before leaving her earthly body on November 3, 2007.
That time in my life taught me that prayer works, that God is present in trouble and sickness, and that there is a power greater than doctors. I also discovered that a hospital can be a place of healing and recovery; I need not be afraid of hospitals.
During the time mommy was hospitalized I did go to driving school. I got my driver’s license that same year. I reasoned that drastic situations called for drastic measures. If something traumatically bad had happened in life, I will respond by doing something drastically good.