Patch Isla-Avendano Wetzel
Friday, September 9, 2016
My mother died on my birthday, April 29.
I was strangely prepared for it. Something, invariably, always happens on and around my birthday.
My dog, Leika, was the first to die on my birthday. I don’t remember the year, but I was really young. Then mom in 1986, then lolo (my maternal grandpa) in 1988. Alan, my sister’s fiancé, who was the closest thing to a big brother I could have; we lost him horribly, suddenly, in a freak motorcycle accident in 2009 in the Philippines, the country of my birth. Remember the Rodney King riots in LA? 1992, the year John, my first, was born. I was holding him tight at two months old when all that was going down on TV. What about the resulting Branch Dividian David Koresh incident in Waco, TX the year later? Then the Oklahoma City bombing after that? Columbine, 1999. Yup, that was when I watched TV.
Then again… also on this day in 1991, Croatia became an independent nation. That was such welcome news! I remember grieving and praying with my Croatian classmates in Les Roches (international school) in Crans-Montana, Switzerland in the late ‘80’s while their country was undergoing a civil war. In 1994, Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) signed an historical economic accord; in 2005, Syria ended 29 years of occupation in Lebanon; and in 2015, German measles was declared as eradicated in North and South America!
There are so many pivotal and alternately bizarre events that happen on that day that my family and friends the world over and I go into a collective, mental ‘Brace yourselves!’ huddle when my birthday is about to roll around.
A few years after we lost Leika, my mom and I were watching a random TV show. She knew I was remembering my beloved dog, I think -- so even as a busy, self-employed dentist, she took the time to watch it with me. A well-known comedian was called on and I wanted to watch his segment. He was surprisingly sad. You don’t usually expect to see sad comedians. When the host introduced him, he said something to the vein of, “Our dear friend just had his birthday but we are in mourning with him as he lost his mother on his birthday.” Aghast, I turned to my mother and said something like, “That’s horrible! I can’t imagine you dying on my birthday!”
God must’ve bequeathed some of His wisdom on her to share with me because to this day, I still remember her looking at me and saying, “If that ever happens; and I don’t think that it would; promise me you’d celebrate me instead of mourning.” I didn’t even remember her telling me that until I had to.
That was 30 years ago.
This book took much longer to write.
So, on my 50th birthday, April 29, 2017, I want this book to be available to anyone willing to read it. It’s a tribute to my mom, yes… but ultimately, it’s to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, His mercy, and above all, His everlasting, all-encompassing and all-consuming love for me and all of us. Because of and through Christ, I am a daughter of The RISEN King; made holy, righteous and redeemed! Surely I’ve got that wrong? How could that be?
But then again, I look back and my life and I KNOW that He had plans for me; Jeremiah 29:11 confirms it.
You see, my life is not really my story.
Chapter 1: Hi, God... you CALLED. I’m pretty sure you have the wrong number...