Four years ago I watched my mother get happily married in Vegas before she flew off to England to start her new life. Three years ago, she flatlined during routine angioplasty and almost lost that new and wonderful life. My mother almost died another two times after that, covering her bathroom walls with blood from a burst femoral artery. I would only learn about it much later, when my mother called to tell me that she couldn’t walk, that she’d almost lost her foot, that the the doctors were working so hard just to keep her alive they had ignored (out of necessity) the lack of blood to my mother’s leg. The doctors would later discover the reason her artery kept bursting: she had contracted MRSA (an antibiotic resistant bacteria) in her leg from the angioplasty surgery.
My mother was hospitalized for nearly 6 months, and couldn’t walk for a year. She missed her children terribly, but didn’t want us to see her that way, which is why, when she called a few months ago to say she had been cleared by her cardiologist to fly and had bought tickets to Vegas, I knew I had to go see her, although, having just lost my job due to a recent acquisition, I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford to get my family from Chicago to Las Vegas. No matter how we diced it, planes, trains, or automobiles, with skyrocketing fuel costs, the trip was going to cost more than we had to spend. Now, I’m not one to visit family often, I went 10 years without seeing my grandmother, and hadn’t seen my dad since he married Cole and I 6 years ago, but not seeing my mother after all she had been through, there was no way lack money was going to get in the way of that reunion.
Remember SOBcon this year, remember how Connie Burk from GM presented Mark Horvath with a brand new car decked out with Wi-fi so he could do his work with InvisiblePeople.tv? Remember how the guys from Murphy USA gave Mark free fuel for a year? That’s the kind of miracle I was praying for. Actually, I was praying for a much smaller miracle… a two week miracle that would get me to my mother and back… and that’s just what happened. I asked Connie about the most fuel efficient cars to rent, and I got an email a week later asking me when and where to drop off my Chevy Equinox loner car from GM. The day after that, I got a package in the mail addressed to “Internet Rockstar” from Murphy USA with a pedometer, a jump rope, a water bottle, and a $100 gas card. With the help of the people at GM and Murphy USA, I could bring the cost of the trip down to under $500, and visit not only my mom, but every relative and friend along the way, which is what I did.
I cannot express to you the feeling of putting my arms around my mother after almost losing her three times, of introducing my father to his grandchildren and my grandmother to her great grandchildren, of meeting my nieces and nephews, or exploring the Grand Canyon and Route 66 with my kids, or driving through the devastation in Joplin Missouri after the tornado there last week, but I will try, in another post, later (when I can process all of that.) What I can express right now, is my gratitude to the people and companies that helped me get there. Thanks so much to Connie from GM and Casey from Murphy USA for reaching out to me, no questions or favors asked in return. You guys are awesome.