By Ralphine Major

February, the “heart” month that emphasizes the importance of heart health. My first story printed in this weekly column was about this very subject. On February 7, 2011, “The Real McCoy” was published in The Focus sharing about our mother’s cardiologist, Dr. Kyle McCoy. That was ten years and 500 columns ago, and the topic is just as relevant today as it was then. As I read it again, I am reminded how quickly our lives can be disrupted, how important faith and family are to us, and how blessed we are that God places certain people along our path. Once again, meet “The Real McCoy” in the reprinted segment below from ten years ago:

I reached for my necklace, but it was gone. It must have slipped off while I was shopping. Little did I know just how symbolic my floating heart necklace would become. The next day was Palm Sunday, April 1, 2007. Mother was not feeling well and decided against going to church. My brother and I helped teach a class of thirty kindergartners, and this was a big day. They got to march over to the sanctuary, wave palm branches, and shout “Hosanna” as a live donkey carried “Jesus” down the aisle. Mother assured us she would be fine, and we left.

After returning home, I noticed the health book opened to angina. Mother had become nauseated the day before at the mall, but I thought it was the unseasonably hot weather. Now, she was experiencing discomfort in her upper back, cold sweats, and nausea. Most telling was her asking me to pour Sprite over ice instead of doing it herself.

In the emergency room mother was connected to a maze of monitors, and tests confirmed she was having a heart attack. A nurse with a long blond braid must have noticed the stunned look on my face. She walked over and asked, “Do you understand what is happening?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Another figure arrived, and his very presence commanded our attention. He was wearing a white lab coat and tie and was holding a chart. “Get her things and come with me,” he said with authority, but kindness. In the hallway we stopped to part ways. The nurse with the long blond braid turned to us, “You may kiss her,” she said in a calm voice. I looked down at my mother. Our eyes met, and I leaned over to kiss her. “I love you,” I said. I watched as my brother kissed her, too.

The distinguished gentleman in the white lab coat began walking with us in the opposite direction. “I’m Dr. McCoy,” he said with a pause. “Like the real McCoys,” he added with a smile as if to lighten the mood. It did. I almost smiled, too. It was clear this doctor had walked these halls before, but we had not. He quickly explained what would be happening and assured us he would check back halfway through the surgery. Then he was gone.