I was about an hour away from having a doctor stick a knife into me and splice open my skin when the nerves started getting the better of me.
This was just about three years ago and, in the larger scheme of things, going under the knife for an umbilical hernia was rather minor surgery and I would be home in a matter of hours.
To calm my nerves, though, I only had to think of one person.
I was closing in on 50 years of age when I had this surgery and came through it was flying colors, I suppose.
But to make sure I don’t sound like a little boy crying for his mommy when he was scared, I decided today – Mother’s Day – is the perfect day to share that story.
The reason I thought of my mother is because more than a decade earlier she bravely faced major surgery – open heart surgery for a valve replacement.
How could I be scared of a three-inch incision next to my belly button when my mother had survived – and thrived – after something much more serious?
But it also made me think of my mother in a different light.
It dawned on me that my mother had shown many different levels of bravery over the course of her own whole life.
Knowledge of that left me rather staggered and stunned.
My mother was a brave woman.
She was born in Watford, England, and it was just today that I realized that her bravery might have started there and then.
During World War II, her father, my grandfather, was one of 11 brothers who went off to fight for the allied forces in defense of their country, against the epitome of history’s most-evil figure.
God blessed our family as all 11 brothers came home safe and sound.
My mother remembers racing into bomb shelters, or hiding under stairs during the war. She remembers seeing the red skies over London, just 16 miles away, as the city burned from one of the Nazi forces steady bombing runs.
Our children are growing up worried that the cable will go out, or the Internet gets bogged down and streaming videos start to lag.
My mother was hiding in bomb shelters hoping her father would come home from the war.
The times they have a changed.
In the mid-1960s, she and my dad hopped up on a ship and left their entire family behind – save for a sister, my aunt – for a new life in the United States.
That’s bravery, right there.
She knew one person on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, but she decided to head off into the great unknown, leaving everything she knew behind.
I left Bangor, Maine, in the fall of 1998, moving three hours south to Dover, N.H., and I had a small (albeit left unsaid) concern about being alone from the only home I had ever known.
My mother wound up having three kids – none of us perfect, each of us testing her in our own vastly different ways.
She loved us all, though, (some more than others, right favorite middle-sister Michelle? Ha) and says she’s proud of where we all have ended up in life.
It is us, though, that should be proud of her.
She made a life for us, making sure we never went without, even if that meant months of government cheese and powdered eggs during our darker times.
She knew nothing about sports, but she would make it a point to go to my games in Little League and in high school. Or, sould be sit there beside me in the living room watching an NCAA college basketball game.
She went through a divorce and made it a point to never bad mouth our father, and when she remarried, she opened her home and her heart to two other children.
She quit smoking (after I moved out of the house, which she claims to be the reason she was able to quit) and along with my step father she became a home owner.
They owned their own business, showing us children first-hand what hard work was all about.
And, after she got all five of us kids out of the house, she started to travel to see many different places she wanted to see.
As proud as she was to be our mother, I sense a deeper pride in becoming the grandmother of our own children.
I can only hope they brave the future she faced her own so many years ago.
The last year as been tough on my mother as a variety of different maladies and infections have chipped away at her health.
Yet she keeps fighting back, refusing to give in.
There’s that bravery thing again.
She’s even proud (brave?) enough to admit she’s a Donald Trump supporter.
I’m not perfect and this proves that neither is she.
But I remain proud of my mother, one of the bravest woman I know.
And I love her and thank her for everything she’s done for me over the past 51 years and one week.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Stay strong. Stay brave.