By Charlie Sacchetti
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I can’t help but think of one that I’ll never forget. The story actually starts two weeks before that big day in 2002. It was a beautiful sunny Friday and I decided to visit my customer, John Hughes, who was the facilities manager at Temple University’s campus in Ambler, Pa. I always enjoyed
my visits with John, who was my friend for many years and a great guy to be with. Aside from doing business, visiting Ambler was a treat because of the beautiful flowers and trees that adorned the grounds. The campus on this day, April 26, showed God’s splendor in every direction. When I finished my sales call, I hopped into my car and decided to give my parents, Henry and Kate, a call to see how they were. By now, it was just about lunchtime and I knew they would be home from Mom’s weekly visit to her hairdresser. Both in their 90s, they were fiercely independent and Dad provided the transportation to and from Mom’s appointment, since she never learned to drive. That phone call is etched in my mind.
As Dad answered the call I heard bewilderment, certainly out of character for the tough guy who taught me how to be a man. He told me that he had just found Mom on the kitchen floor. While she was making his lunch and he was out front, checking his flower garden, Mom had suffered a stroke. As he came into the house and not seeing her in the kitchen, he rushed in to find her. I told him to call 911, which he did. As I sped to the University of Pennsylvania hospital, my mind was racing. Because Mom had arrived at the hospital relatively quickly, after the onset of the stroke, it was decided that surgery would give her a 50-50 chance to be saved. We consented to have the operation performed.
Mom lasted two weeks, never regaining consciousness, and passed away peacefully on May 11, the day before Mother’s Day. When I received the late-night call, there was an air of peace. Mom was deeply religious and certainly had no fear of dying. I decided to wait until the morning to tell my father. Dad had held out hope and seemed to always believe that Mom would survive even after we all agreed that no further extraordinary measures would be taken, just to keep her “alive.” When I told Dad that Mom had passed away, he told me that when the EMTs were putting Mom onto the gurney to take her to the hospital, she told them that she had to finish making Dad’s lunch first! He smiled, when he told me that, not surprised that as she had done for 65 years, Mom would put him first no matter what the circumstances.
On Mother’s Day, the next morning, I was at home, thinking about what had happened and the wondrous two weeks the family had all shared with Mom at her bedside. I decided to go out to my newly planted vegetable garden area, sit down and just clear my head while listening to Sid Mark’s weekly Sunday radio broadcast, “Sunday with Sinatra.” As I heard Frank’s flawless renditions, I recalled how Mom always was proud of her youthful outlook on life. Even with her advanced age, she loved to have fun and always said she wasn’t old, but “Young at Heart.” I immediately had the urge to hear that Sinatra song, both as a tribute to her and to give me closure of a sort.
I went into my house, and called the radio station. I actually was able to reach someone connected with the show, perhaps a producer, and explain that my mother had just died and it would be very nice of them and a real blessing to me if Sid would play that song. The man was very sympathetic but said that it wasn’t their policy take requests since the audience was so large and they didn’t want to disappoint the many people who would not be able to get through. They had made the decision just not to accept any requests for this reason. I understood the policy and simply asked the man to please mention my request, to Sid anyway, just in case he would be gracious enough to make an exception. Promising nothing, he gave me his sincere condolences and we ended our conversation.
I returned to my folding chair on this beautiful Mother’s Day and took a deep breath of the cool, crisp air that brought me both peace and calm. As I looked around at the two little rabbits that were playing tag under my cherry tree, my attention was drawn to my little radio. Hearing no other sounds in my little piece of heaven I call my yard, only one emerged from my radio: “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.” I looked up at the powder-blue sky and as the tears rolled down my cheeks, I wished Mom a Happy Mother’s Day.
Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books,“It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org