When I was a little girl, my Mom sewed me a "life-sized" Raggedy Ann doll. She was my best bud. Her head was flat (perfect for napping on), her hugs were free and very comforting, and she was just the size of a 4-year old girl living in Fargo, ND. She soaked up a lot of tears, a lot of hugs and kisses, and a few other things, when I was sick with the flu.
When I was newly married, my Mom decided that I needed a fresh, non-barfed-on Raggedy Ann doll as a Valentine's Day present. Mom stitched her with love, hand embroidering her face and big red smile. Though she wasn't the size of a 23-year old, she still gave great hugs, had a perfect for napping flat head, and soaked up a lot of tears when Mom died less than a year later, from a blood infection.
When we returned from France, I eagerly pulled Raggedy out of the box where she had waited for me, and set her up on the oak cedar chest my grandfather built for me. She had her usual place, watching us live our lives, and cheerfully waiting for me to need her again.
This weekend, I really needed her.
As I got out of surgery, Dr. B started making the round of calls to let everyone know I was OK and everything had gone well. When he got to Pam, my Dad's wife, I noticed he wasn't doing much of the talking.
Then, I found out why.
On Wednesday, my Dad had gone into the hospital with chest pains. He didn't tell me, not wanting me to worry while preparing for my own surgery. Mr. Stoic lied smoothly on the phone, making me believe he was calling from his kitchen, when he was actually calling from a hospital bed, wearing an uncomfortable green gown with an open back.
On Thursday, they did an angiogram, and then chest pains got really bad. There was no choice; Dad was scheduled for open heart surgery for first thing Friday morning. He needed a quadruple bypass.
Though our family has dealt with this many times before, because it is a hereditary condition, it still scared us to the core. My grandfather, who had 2 open heart surgeries, was by his side, with my grandmother, my sister and her fiancé. I was on the couch, in pain and sick to my stomach, partially from the ineffective pain meds, partially from worry.
"Please, honey, can you bring me Raggedy?" I asked. "I really need to feel close to my Mom right now."
Raggedy wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, soaked up my tears, and listened to my prayers. And she told Mom.
And he's going to be OK.
The surgery went as well as it could have, and the doctor said he was an excellent candidate. They said we were really lucky, because he wouldn't have made it to Christmas if he hadn't gone in when he did. They were surprised he was walking when he came in, but I guess they didn't count on the power of a stubborn, tough ol' Norwegian.
So today, though I am still in pain and pretty sick on laying here on the couch, I am so happy and thankful for everything. Though I have nothing prepared for Christmas--not one present bought, nothing baked, and not even an ornament hung with care--I know I really am ready. I got what I wanted for Christmas. I've got my Dad.