Every year for 29 years I have received a card in the mail with the most thoughtful message, wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. This particular card wasn’t from my children. It was purchased and signed by my brother-in-law. For nearly three decades Dennis sent these cards to me and several other moms of his choosing. Dennis and his wife never had children of their own, which to me made this kind gesture selfless.

I won’t be receiving a card from Dennis this year. Last weekend he was rushed to the hospital and went into cardiac arrest. For approximately 2 1/2 hours we didn’t know if he was alive. We knew he was revived after receiving CPR for six minutes, but he was unstable. The long car ride was filled with questions and emotions for all of us, especially for my husband Rob, who is very close to his brother. Our daughter Amy and Josh (her husband and who I refer to as my other son), and our son Mick and his wife Shauna (our other daughter), also made the nearly 2-hour trip. When we arrived we were directed to the CCU waiting area.

“CCU? Is he alive?” I asked the security person behind the counter. “Yes,” was all he said (we were grateful for that answer!).

Something about a crisis reveals the character in individuals. Some handle pressure better than others. I remember a few of Dennis’ friends commenting about how nice it was that our kids came to the hospital. I mentioned that we didn’t ask them to come; they just wanted to. I think it was Shauna who said, “This is what we do.” (We show up. We love. Unconditionally.) We are a very close family – Rob, the kids and I. Rob’s sister and her husband also came and I remember thinking it was lovely to see them but I wished it was for a happy occasion, or no occasion at all. Dennis’ wife arrived shortly before us. (His pastor arrived later that evening; his presence was gentle and kind.) Rob announced that he would like to offer prayer for his brother and asked everyone to stand and join hands. There was a sense of urgency in his voice. I’ve always seen Rob as a prayer warrior; his words were passionate.

After spending two days in the CCU waiting area, including a hospital transfer and a new CCU, Dennis’ condition was eventually stabilized. After six days in the hospital he was released. There were so many reasons he shouldn’t have survived; and so many things that fell into place that led to his being in the right place at the right time and with people who would be quick on their feet to respond. Actually, I’m grateful for those involved, but I know they weren’t in charge. The providence of God would ordain the steps of many, and Dennis would live to tell us he was grateful to have a “second chance.”

Charleston Heston as Judah in Ben Hur.

Charleston Heston as Judah in Ben Hur.

So, I won’t be receiving my brother-in-law’s annual card this year. And as thoughtful a gesture as it has always been I, along with our family, got something even more meaningful. My husband has his brother to razz. They’ll continue to share in that brotherly, movie-buff lingo they speak – quoting movie lines to one another.

This Mother’s Day took on a different meaning. I am fortunate that my adult children express their love and commitment to me and this family all through the year, and it doesn’t take a crisis to do so. We enjoy each other’s company and my favorite times are spent with these five people. This Mother’s Day, we’ll be together, as usual. We’ll reflect on what’s important, and no doubt we’ll razz each other in fun. We may even quote a few movie lines. 

The first thing Rob said to his brother when he was alert in the CCU?

“It goes on, Judah.” 

I love my family! Thank you, Heavenly Father! 

Is there a quirky or personal thing you and your family share?

What do you choose to be grateful for?