This is the 25th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Fred Sievert (see below for his bio) shares a story about his mother on her birthday.
In 1980—when I was thirty-two and my mother, Rose, was sixty-two—my parents were living in Michigan. Three years earlier, after much prayer, my wife, Sue, and I had moved to the Boston area so I could start a new career. It was a difficult move because we were taking my parents’ granddaughters away from them—Heidi, five, and Dena, two.
It was a cool and otherwise lovely New England autumn morning when I received a call from my father. “Freddy,” he said in a soft and faltering voice, “Mom was experiencing chest pains and dizziness yesterday, so I took her to the hospital, and she was admitted for testing. The results showed significant arterial blockages, and she will go into surgery as soon as possible.”
Suddenly consumed by the realization that I hadn’t told my mother often enough how much I loved her and how much she meant to my personal and professional development, I longed to talk to her. I had so much to say—about my faith and her incredible influence during our numerous kitchen-table talks throughout my youth, adolescence, and early adulthood. Her encouragement and persistent advice to always act with integrity had shaped my life. Thank God there was still time.
“Freddy,” my father said over the phone on the day of her surgery. “The doctor said there are significant risks for someone with such major blockages. Can you speak to her now?”
“Okay,” I said, completely rattled. Dad put Mom on the phone.
I fought back the tears as we spoke. I wanted to demonstrate my faith in God and my courage in the face of this dangerous surgical procedure. But I couldn’t shake the realization that, if it was God’s will, I might never see her again—might never again enjoy the wisdom of her advice during our kitchen-table talks or feel the warmth of her loving hugs.
I told her—for what I realized might be the last time—how much I loved her and appreciated her considerable efforts in raising me. “I’ll be praying for you, Mom,” I said. “After all, miracles happen, and all things are possible for those who believe and trust in the Lord.”
Then I covered the mouthpiece to muffle my sobs as she told me how proud she was of me, my young family, and my professional accomplishments.
Later that morning, Sue, Heidi, Dena, and I were driving to a local shopping mall in Walpole, Massachusetts. After I parked the car in the mall parking lot, we prayed together for successful surgery and for a complete healing of Mom’s condition.
The prayer lasted no longer than a minute or two. Sue and I fought tears as we finished. We considered the possibility of a less-than-satisfactory outcome but trusted that God’s will would prevail.
Later that day, my father called and said, clearly amazed, “You’re not gonna believe this, Freddy. The doctors didn’t even believe it. They performed the exploratory surgery and found clean arteries! As clean and clear as a newborn baby’s!” The surgeon had told Dad that no matter how successful subsequent surgery might have been, the arteries never could have been restored to this condition—yet it had happened before any surgery was performed. “Her surgeon said it had to be the result of divine intervention!”
For the rest of her life, Mom required no surgery. Despite having a very poor family health history, she lived to the age of eighty-three, when she quietly and peacefully died in her sleep in 2001. We enjoyed many more loving hugs and encouraging kitchen-table chats together.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Many times it takes a crisis to bring us to our knees before our God, and we call out to God as a last resort. I plead guilty to that charge. We all need to make a habit of speaking to God daily and gather with others to do so, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20.
Frederick J. Sievert is a former president of New York Life Insurance Company. He is the author of the 2014 bookGod Revealed: Revisit Your Past to Enrich Your Future and is working on his second book, Transformed by Grace: Empowered and Guided by God’s Greatest Gift.
Following his early retirement at age 59, Fred attended Yale Divinity School and was awarded a master’s degree in religion in 2011. There are many ways to reach Fred: