‘My best gift is having you home, mom’

By Anna Cooper – Macklin, Sask.

My thoughts drifted back to Nov. 8, 1971. It was a day of chaos. The secretary from St. Paul’s Hospital of Saskatoon phoned me at 9 a.m., wanting me to be admitted by 11 a.m. I said it was impossible for me to be there by that time because it takes about 5 hours to get to Saskatoon. It was also inconvenient, not only for the amount of driving, but arrangements had to be made for my children.

The secretary then asked if could be there by 4 p.m. “We will only hold the bed until no later than 5 p.m.,” the secretary said. I said yes then hustled around, making arrangements plus packing my clothes and things needed while I was hospitalized.

My two younger children, Louis, at one-and-a-half years of age, and Joy, almost four, would stay at their Grandma Cooper and Aunt Ethel’s place. Cindy, 11-1⁄2, would stay with her dad on the farm for company and to be of help. When all the arrangements were made, we left on our journey to Saskatoon. I was to have major surgery.

For a couple of months, I hadn’t been feeling good. I was listless, irritable, tired, always belching, and became very jumpy at the littlest things. My personality had completely changed, dramatically so. I didn’t like what I was becoming. This prompted me to seek medical attention.

Depression set in

My family doctor took x-rays and many tests. When all the tests came back he promptly made an appointment with a specialist in Saskatoon. He told me he thought I had a peptic ulcer and that it could be malignant. A gastroscopy operation proved I had cancer of the stomach. I became very depressed while in hospital and gave up all hope, feeling sorry for myself and being very selfish. While this was happening, I continued to slip backward.

I was ministered to many times. On one of those ministries, I finally thought of my children. It was only then that I started to fight for my life. The first four weeks when I was so low, throughout this period, I was given morphine every so often for pain.

I was unaware of my allergic reaction to morphine and due to internal swelling, it couldn’t be detected. A nurse friend of mine, while visiting me, noticed my reaction following a morphine injection. She promptly contacted the head nurse and told her of my symptoms and that I was going under. My doctor was notified and an antidote was promptly given.

I then got a staph infection which set me back. I was now isolated from the other wards and no longer could I visit the other patients. Throughout all this time in hospital, my poor husband was called to the hospital four times. Doctors had their doubts about me as my condition had deteriorated.

Then, miraculously, I rebounded back. I would pray: “Please, God, make we well so I can be reunited with my family.”

Thankful to be home

On Dec. 23, I was released from the hospital. My husband, Elbert, had come to pick me up. We arrived at mom Cooper and Ethel’s place at 4 p.m. after being on the road for six hours. I went into the house to see my children and said: “Hi, everyone. I’m home for Christmas and I love you all.”

Joy took one look at me and ran into the bedroom crying as she closed the door. Louis didn’t want anything to do with me and was scared of me. I can’t blame them for their actions. I was away from them a month and three weeks. The two younger children stayed at their grandma and Aunt Ethel’s place and Cindy came home with us.

That year Christmas was held at mom Cooper and Ethel’s place. Elbert had done the Christmas shopping prior to picking me up. Cindy told me, “My best Christmas gift is having you home for Christmas, mom.”

I often got tired and needed to rest. As I relaxed and thought of my situation, I thanked my Heavenly Father for giving me another chance to be with my family. Every day I am thankful to God for something, but at Christmas, I’m thankful to be home with loved ones.