Willie Mae and Marilyn - David Austin

A Story of Hope. Don’t let the talk of Cancer Scare you Away.

At the age of 71, and at least 30 years of living with Multiple Sclerosis, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had prepared the whole family, especially me, to know and understand that she wanted no heroic measures taken ever; when it was her time to go and meet God and Jesus, it was her time to go she would often say. After finding out it was Cancer, and ready to tell the Doctor my mother did not want surgery or chemo…she simply said, “Why not, I don’t have anything better to do.”

What follows is just a brief, and true story of the day of the surgery.

...and it seemed even harder when they found the big “C”: Colon Cancer. Exploratory surgery was scheduled, to find the extent of the Cancer and in hopes of removing said C.

It was Halloween Day, 2000, and the surgery was scheduled for first thing in the morning. Highland Hospital, and its waiting room for family and loved ones in surgery was to become our home until the phone rang to let us know the outcome. While the hospital had gone to great lengths to make the room comfortable and home-like, everyone knew it was just a “Baggage Carrier with Couches.”

It was 8:00am, and the phone was already ringing. The phone would ring, 100+ people would look towards the ringing, and to the receptionist, who in turn would casually announce the name of the person who was just leaving the operating room. Then, the connected loved ones would gather their materials, head to the desk, and move on out of one limbo to another. After a while we learned to cautiously watch their reactions, as the news on the phone was not always comforting.

By 5:00pm, the loved ones to Marilyn Austin were the only group remaining. One single person on the other side of the room sat alone, reading. She was caught in the same activity we were, listening for the phone, watching the receptionist take the call, announce another’s name, and turn away; back to something to keep hope alive, or to help keep doubt and fear more quiet.

2 parties left, and the phone rang once more. “Party to Marilyn Austin” the receptionist announced. I jumped up and made my way quickly to the table to talk on the phone. I wasn’t sure whom I would be talking with when I took the phone. It was the Surgeon. They found and removed a great deal of Cancer. No guarantees, he stated, but felt confident the 8 hours of surgery was a success.

Off the phone, moving to report to my family I noticed the other woman was standing at the desk, looking at me. I turned to her and she asked if I was David. “Yes,” I stated. She announced that she could tell that the surgery had gone well for my mother. Looking puzzled, she put my questions to rest. “I work at Monroe (Nursing Home) and have got to know your mother for the past few months. I just came to make sure that your Mom wasn’t alone. Now that I know she is alright and has family here, I will go. I don’t want to be in the way.”

Surprised, shocked, and yet knowing I was speaking to an Angel, I asked her to stay. She agreed to at least meet Marilyn’s Family and loved ones. Her name was Willie May, a member of the night cleaning staff (that’s why no one knew each other) at the Nursing home where my mother called home. She was a Mother of two smaller children, and arranged to have a babysitter watch her children while she took the bus to spend her time waiting for a friend in surgery. Just to make sure she wasn’t alone when she awoke.

We later found out Willie May would often come to work early to sit with my Mother, or stay awhile after work to share joys and life. It was that day, and whenever I think, talk, or write about Willie May, that I know Angels exist. I met one. Maybe you are or will be one for someone.