I used to be organized.

A long time ago, I was very, very organized. I was one of those people who started on Christmas stuff in June. Then, when it became apparent that this was borderline OCD, I waited until right after October 31 (did you know there’s a move to change the date of Halloween to some other time in October? but I digress….) to begin gathering all the stuff needed…like nuts and spices and yards of fabric and consulting the list of ideas that began in February.

Then that date slid from November 1 to December 1 and after Himself passed away it all became something of an afterthought or that 9pm semi-panic on December 20 that resulted in a flurry of Amazon gift certificates.  Thank goodness for cookies, too, because most people like them and fresher is better and you can double those batches with little ill effect.

Now there’s a Grandpunkin involved and I’m back into wanting to make some things more involved than flour, butter, and chocolate chips.  When The Boys were little, I loved making big squishy stuffed animals of the sort that could be used to lean on while watching the ubiquitous Thomas the Tank Engine videos that allowed me the opportunity to take a much needed shower. Grandpunkin isn’t the sort to be charmed by a curly-haired purple hippopotamus the size of a La-Z-Boy recliner (s’true…I made one of those. No idea what happened to that silly thing. Probably it’s still in the attic of a small house in South Alabama) (unless someone found it). He’s more of a dinosaur/shark/other toothy carnivorous animal type. He tends to be very proud of whatever shark/dinosaur/John Deer Monster Truck shirt he’s wearing, so I’m pondering how to incorporate those concepts into one beast. Research at the local fabric store happens whenever possible, and the discontinued pattern for a large child-sized stuffed shark was located on Etsy. How John Deere and velociraptors will meld into a shark is undetermined, but I’ve done it before (albeit 25 years ago), and shall do it again.

Everyone else will get cookies and coffee. Really Good Coffee (Coffee roasting friends of mine with Best Coffee Ever. Buy it. You won’t be sorry).

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Update on #3

I realized it’s been a while since I’ve updated on how he’s doing. In short….he’s doing amazingly well. His healing is nothing short of miraculous, over and over again.  He knows this, and credits God with it, and has told his doctors so.

One of his injuries was a complete break of his left femur at the head. There’s a lot of nerves and blood vessels there, and the surgeon was sceptical about it healing properly, even went to far as to say she expected the head part to die off, and he’d need a hip replacement. We prayed for it to heal so he wouldn’t need that extra surgery, and it did. His hip was completely healed. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

When he visited the doctors in Birmingham 2 weeks ago, he walked (WALKED!) into the hospital and offices, completely unassisted. No cane, no walker, no help. Maybe a bit of a limp, that’s all.

My little turnip, the one who wasn’t expected to be able to do anything more than look at us. Maybe.

Oh, I know…the doctors have to give you the worst case scenario. It’s called Cover Your Ass because no one has ever sued a doctor for malpractice because the recovery exceeded expectations. I know they couldn’t say “He’ll most likely be just fine”, but honestly, they truly didn’t expect it. When they move a person from the Neuro ICU with comments like “We can’t help him anymore and we need the bed.” it’s not because they think he’s fine.

Truly, I am not gloating. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am. There were 2 other young men in that neuro ICU who were hurt in accidents the same day as #3. One of them died, the other was not expected to ever recover in any sort of way. Why #3 and not one of them? I don’t know. I hurt for those families that lost their sons. There were other families with sons and fathers and loved ones in that ICU who were hanging on desperately to hope, some of them got their wishes and some didn’t. Those are questions I can’t answer.

Cognitively he is recovering in fits and starts. His memories are coming back, in bits and pieces, and we are trying to help that along by always talking to him about his past, showing pictures, and the like. I have had a couple of conversations with him recently that felt like I was talking to the old pre-accident #3, and that was incredibly encouraging.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  
Psalm 9:1

Now, all that said, I know he may never recover enough to return to the sort of work he was doing before (industrial electrician and mechanic). But he doesn’t have to. Nor does he want to. He worked too much. Knowing that he doesn’t want to and that we can all help him find his way to something that will be productive and less stressful is giving us all a sense of purpose.

The Fine Wife is the best part of his recovery. She is patient, steadfast, and encouraging for him. Lord love her, since #3’s recovery is taking a developmental track, she gets to have him as a teenager (better her than me!! I already done that once!) and fortunately his developmental track is very compressed so he won’t be a teenager as long the second time as he was the first.

Anyway, #3 is doing well. He is healing on all fronts. I continue every day to ask God to keep His hand on him, keep healing him, and use him in some way wonderful. I praise God every day for the progress he’s made, and for allowing us to all see such a phenomenal miracle.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

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So much!

I have a variety of reasons for moving here. I like the area. I’m near Mom and Dad, who aren’t Spring Chickens and I feel better about being close enough to help out. #3, The Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin are 10 minutes away (especially now that #3 had that accident and I can help out with him, give The Fine Wife some time to herself), it’s a great place to live, etc.

As I settle in, the reality of all that mentioned above is coming to fruition and I can see exactly how things are playing out. And I like it. Every bit of it. The house is comfortable and small enough to clean in a morning. Grandpunkin can come over and by George I think that’s my favorite part of all of it.

A long time ago, as the #s 1, 2, and 3 then 4 outgrew their toys, Himself and I made decisions about what to keep For The Grandchildren. When I moved here, I took stock of all those toys and smiled, especially as I remembered The Boys playing with them. All those Thomas the Tank Engine toys, the ones that we bought because they so loved the VHS tapes of the show (that allowed me to indulge in the occasional act of personal hygiene in the form of a 5 minute shower), yeah those….Grandpunkin loves them! AND Amazon Prime HAS THOSE SAME ORIGINAL SHOWS!

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The map’s a little worn but still functional

 

When the boys were very young, we lived out in the country and due to a work thing, Himself deposited a very large (like 3 dumptruck loads) pile of dirt in the yard. Initially I thought he was nuts, but the boys were attracted to that pile like flies to molasses, and the immediate acquisition of Tonka trucks meant they were kept happy and occupied for the remaining 3 years we lived there. Better than any expensive fancy playground that pile was. Well, Full Circle just like the Thomas toys. We’ve acquired a big pile of gravel and sand to be spread out for the foundation of the shop building, and Grandpunkin was attracted to it like a fly/molasses situation. Add some Tonka trucks and simple instructions to rearrange the pile, and that 3 year old boy was kept occupied for several hours while the grownups chatted and drank iced tea. The Fella was informed that, once the pile was spread for it’s intended purpose, another one will need to happen because…look at this:

Chris dirt pile

See that groove across the top? That’s where he pushes the dumptruck to move a load to the back side.

So yeah, things are working out around here. The house is still messy and not yet completely settled in, but it’s getting there. But people come over and have iced tea and a bite to eat. Grandpunkin comes running from the car to say hey and immediately settles in to play, and…yes. I love it.

All the animals have settled in. Fears that Mom and Dad’s enormous German Shepherd would think the cats were tasty snacks disappeared right after one of the cats booped her on the nose and she grunted and layed down. The dogs (3 dachshunds) acted just like they always do: locating the nearest food bowl and well padded crate, and being content with that. With one exception…it took them all about 10 minutes to realize mom and Dad’s house was just over there, and since they’ve been here before and know where their pet door is, they occasionally make themselves at home there and take over Coco’s (that’s their dachshund) bed, much to Coco’s irritation and the rest of our’s amusement. Mom knows when I’m on my way over, because Rusty (my dog) runs ahead and lets himself in so he can greet me at the door (from the inside). One of the cats disappeared for 2 weeks, returning just yesterday. I was fairly convinced she’d become supper for the very large red-tailed hawk that is regularly seen doing a fly-over, but yesterday she turned up, skinny and vociferously declaring the sad state of hunting in the acreage behind the house. Some canned food, an egg with cream later, she’s happily esconced on my lap. Hopefully she’ll decide this is The Place to Be, because she’s a sweet thing and an excellent typing companion.

The best part of all this…Mom can come over for an afternoon for a cup of tea and some companionship while Dad is doing something in town. #3 and Family can come over and watch the football game, Grandpunkin can rearrange some dirt,  and it all feels just like I’d hoped it would. Now, once the house is in order, I can get to working on some stuff to sell. When we get the shop built (soon, I hope), The Fella can start making stuff as well. The list is long, and stuff continues to be added to it. Apparently that’s life, and…

Life is Good.

 

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So, how’s #3?

I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve updated. Between moving here to The New House and all the sundry 1,274 trips to Lowe’s involved, I have had very little time for thinking. Also, no internet until yesterday. Anyway…

#3 is doing amazingly well. Like…the neurologist said “If I hadn’t seen you before and known you were you and these were your brain scans, I would have thought the scans got swapped with someone else’s. Your brain looks like a perfectly normal one. No signs of injury.” And…the orthopedist said “I can’t believe you walked in here like that. We weren’t sure you’d ever walk unassisted.” #3 literally walked into the office without his cane. Now he only uses it when he’s particularly tired.

That’s not to say he’s 100% back to how he was before the accident. He’s not. There’s still a lot to heal up and recover with his brain function. He is still in a lot of pain from his injuries. Likely he will never physically be as he was before but given that God has worked such incredible miracles so far, I will not say that #3 will never be as he was before. It is abundantly clear that ain’t no one gonna tell God what He can or can’t do.  #3 has improved so dramatically that I am confident the areas where he’s having cognitive deficits will clear up. He is having some trouble with reading comprehension, and retaining what he’s read. That said, he’s never liked to read so I can’t really say what’s going on there. My opinion is that reading would do him some good, but then eating lima beans would probably do me some good and I won’t do it.

He is a lot more philosophical than he ever was. We talk regularly and he often waxes thoughtful and profound on what’s happening in his mind. He credits God with saving him, because he knows if it had been up to all the doctors, he wouldn’t be here. “I know they tried to save me but I also know without God, they couldn’t have. I’d be dead but God wanted me alive.” We talk about that often, how God has a plan and it’s up to us to trust Him. He thanked me for telling people about him so they can pray for him. “Mom, I’m proof God hears prayers. Please don’t stop.”

So all of you who have been praying for him, please don’t stop.

It’s been 3 months since his accident. We were told by neurologists that he might never wake up and if he did, most likely he’d be bedridden and “minimally functional” (translation: He might open his eyes and look around, but that’s about it. ) Orthopedists told us it was unlikely he’d ever walk again, and if he did,  it would be with great difficulty and he’d use a walker.

People who don’t know #3, and who think they know more than the rest of us (and God) have told us that they don’t really believe he was that badly hurt. Someone has gone so far as to say we exaggerated his injuries. We have not. There was no need to do that, as his injuries spoke loudly all by themselves. My hope is that they and everyone else will see God’s glory through this event.

And, while I never doubted God’s ability to heal #3, I was so fearful that He wouldn’t. God has used this circumstance in my life to, once again, draw me closer. He is using it in #3’s life, and the lives of The Fine Wife and Grandpunkin, and everyone else in this sphere. I don’t know exactly HOW, but if I’ve learned anything over the last 30 years, it’s that God knows exactly what He’s doing, and it’s enough to lean on that.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
  Proverbs 3:5-6

I love that God chose to heal #3. I love that so many people are praying for him, and ask about him, and want to know how to help. God has been very good to my family and I will always be grateful for that.

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Absolutely!

Yesterday would have been my and Himself’s 32nd anniversary. It was #3’s 27th birthday, and also his and The Fine Wife’s 4th anniversary.  July 26th was a pretty eventful day in our family. When I wished #3 happy birthday, he was kind of unimpressed by it…probably because he’d just come from an entire day of physical therapy and was exhausted. He was, as is typical these days, amazed that The Fine Wife married him and had their baby. “We MADE HIM!” he said of Grandpunkin. “HE CAME FROM US! HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!” (oh boy, does this mean I have to have The Talk with him again?)

As expected, Himself was on my mind a lot yesterday. Life frustrated him, and I am happy for him that now he’s in Heaven, and since there’s an eternity of time there, he can relax and spend time perfecting the things he didn’t have time to work on here. He loved woodworking, making things, and was good at it, but due to work, didn’t have time to do it the way he wanted. So now I imagine him there, with all the time there is, carefully teaching himself (or maybe he’s working with other woodworkers who’ve gone before him) fancy joinery techniques with all the wood he couldn’t bring himself to spend the money on…birdseye maple and curly walnut and the like. It gives me great emotional satisfaction to know he’s no longer frustrated. I have a tremendous amount of peace from that.

#3 is learning life all over again. He has 2 things he says now. “It’s real.” and “Absolutely!” When someone is honest with him, or shows him kindness and patience, or love, that person is Real. “Mom, the physical therapist is Real.” He has some trouble with words still, but is getting there. It’s worse when he’s tired, but almost non-existent when he’s fresh and rested.  He told me he went to a club, and there were a lot of people there and they did a lot of singing and someone got up and talked a bunch about God. He talked with someone afterwards about God for a little bit. “Mom, God is real. He does a lot of things for me I didn’t even know about. He’s Real.”  The doctors are Real, as are his physical therapists and Dr. B…the veterinarian he worked for several years ago. He also says “Absolutely!” when I say things like “it’s going to be tough for a bit but you’re strong and smart and can do this.” or “Your wife loves you very much” or “Grandpunkin is your son!”   He gets frustrated sometimes…ok…a lot. Who wouldn’t? He wants to be working. We all tell him his job right now is to get better. Absolutely! He hates what his body is doing right now. A month ago his body didn’t work at all, look how far he’s come! Absolutely!  At this rate, he’ll be able to go back to work sooner than anyone ever expected! (especially since The People Who Know Things said he’d never get out of bed or be able to talk) Absolutely!  His brothers are Real…they keep in touch with him, come visit when they can, harass him in that way only brothers can. “Mom, my brother came to visit. He’s Real. They are all Real. I talk to them on the phone.” Well, you’re their brother and they love you. Absolutely!

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He’s talked about Himself a little bit. He doesn’t remember him dying but he knows he did. He still has the memories of him prior to January 2015. I am thankful he didn’t lose any of those.

July 26 used to be one of my favorite days. Now it’s more bittersweet than anything. My sorrow at losing Himself has smoothed out and been replaced with joy for him (which was always there, but sad for myself, I guess). Especially now The Fella is in the picture. Himself hasn’t been replaced…that’s the thing about losing a spouse like this. When someone new comes along, the past hasn’t been replaced, but instead the heart is expanded to allow for the new person. Widowhood is like that. Love doesn’t end when the person dies, but the heart grows and allows for the next person, the next chapter to come along and be written. #3’s story is much different from what he’d planned. So is mine. So is The Fella’s, and those of my other sons. What’s that saying…”If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” If I’ve learned anything over the last 3-1/2 years, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with having plans, but be flexible because they will change.

Now? Well, now the trajectory of our lives made a sudden turn that was hidden on the back side of a hill and around a bend. Now, The Fella and I are embarking on a new journey together. #3 and his people are in a completely different dynamic and the work they do has changed entirely.  #’s 1,2, and 4 are changing directions. Thankfully, God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. And we can rest in that. Absolutely.

 

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That’s Life

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

God never promised us a peaceful and comfortable life. He promised that He’d be with us in the hard times, and that His ultimate plan for us is a good one…by His definition of good, not ours.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

In fact, His promises to be with us in the hard times are all through Scripture. Old and New Testaments, all over the place. The Word is slam full of them. You’d almost think one of the purposes of The Bible is to reinforce the promise that He’s with us all the time, good times and bad, when we’re in the midst or prosperity or persecution.

I’ve been thinking back over the last few years. I say few, let’s make that, say, 15 years. They haven’t been easy. Himself worked so much  I often felt like a single mother with 3 teenaged sons, and I didn’t do a very good job of it. It was as hard on the boys as it was on me. Probably harder. There are things that happened about which I have to try hard not to be bitter.  There was hope on the horizon that his work would settle down and become more…I don’t know…humane. Reasonable. Before that happened, however, he had that heart attack and died. That…sucked.

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I was left to deal with our sons (I almost said “the boys” but they aren’t boys anymore) and didn’t do a very good job of it. I’ve never been a boy so I don’t know how they think. I did what I thought was right but often it wasn’t because I was operating on feelings instead of logic. Now they are grown men and I have let them go…sort of. I have to allow them to do their own things and make their own ways, just as I am doing new and different things I never thought I’d be doing.  That’s really hard. My impulse is to make everything easy and cushy for them but no one grows during the easy times, and I want them grown and independent.

I met The Fella, and we’re making plans for a brand new life together. New House, New Plans, New Ideas, all things I’d actually kind of dreamed about and thought “wouldn’t it be fun if” and “wouldn’t it be a great idea to” but I’d kind of settled into the notion that I’d get my community college associate’s degree (which I did, Magna Cum Laude, y’all) (not to brag…ok totally to brag.), find a job as someone’s administrative assistant working Mon-Fri 8-5, and do that for the next 15 years.  Did I WANT to do that? No, not really. What I WANT to do is grow things, make things, sell things, travel, cook meals for people, and take a day off when I want to or maybe decide on a Thursday to go to the beach on Friday. I worked 5am-10pm 7 days a week for 28 years, with maybe a weekend off once or twice a year. I’d take Thursdays “off” by not scheduling any sort of appointments that day, not doing laundry or cleaning, and fixing something lazy for supper. (but…you took vacations with your family!  Right…vacations are more like double the work when you’re the mom.) But now, I want to do things that aren’t so….scheduled. Good thing is, The Fella thinks the same way I do.

Every now and then, he and I look at each other and are amazed that we each found someone who’s desires and wishful thinking for the future matches our own. The only thing that is different is the way each of us makes chili. He’s also a bit more fastidious than I am. His skills (metalworking, gardening, fixing things that don’t work right) are ones that overlap mine to a degree that working together is a pleasure. His desires for travel and making use of time are almost exactly the same as mine, and his ability to motivate my lazy self is  unparalled.  He is almost as fond of my sons as I am. We are both completely convinced that our meeting wasn’t accidental and even though we are both dealing with stuff that is difficult in our own lives, having each other to lean on, and both of us keenly aware of God’s hand in our lives and how He does His work in sometimes peculiar ways, means we have this sort of lifeboat to rest in while the waves toss us around.

Life isn’t easy. No one ever said it would be. Sometimes it really stinks, hurts, and overwhelms. Some people go through more than others, and no one can really answer why that is. I don’t know why I’ve been put in a country where I can freely talk about God, and Jesus Christ without any fear of persecution. I don’t know why my children are going through such difficulties (and they all are, each of their own types, not just #3), why Himself died, and why God saw fit to drop The Fella in my lap. There are myriad “I don’t know whys” and likely I’ll never, on this Earth, know the answers to them all. But I do know that Life isn’t promised to be clean and tidy. What is promised is that we are never alone in it, no matter how much it feels like we are.

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …Psalm 23:1-6

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Get to work!

#3 continues to improve. At this point, it has slowed down to more of a “filling in the details” sort of thing. He had those dramatic leaps, from comatose to talking in a month, and now he’s changing and improving in more subtle ways.

For instance, he feels like he’s 17, and says his memory stops at January 6, 2015. He doesn’t remember his father dying, or the birth of his son, or his house burning down. He knows those things happened, but simply doesn’t remember them. It hit me pretty hard, that he had to learn all over again about the death of his father. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, let alone my son.  He is daily amazed that he’s married to The Fine Wife, and the number of healed wounds on his body increases by 1 or 2 every day. When he first realized what they were, he said he had 27 of them. Actually I think he has 12 or 13, but 27 is the number I always used to mean “a lot”…as in “How many bags of groceries do you have to carry in?” “27!” or “how many children do you have?” “At least 27, possibly more.” So I think he was saying 27 because he knew there were a lot. However, that was about a week ago. Yesterday he had 31 and today he has 37.

He is bothered by the missing 3-1/2 years. Who wouldn’t be? He doesn’t remember what sort of work he did, or how he did it. He said he needs to go back to work and I told him right now his job is to do the physical and speech therapies to get into a position where he could go back to work. I told him of the man I’d met who had been in a similar situation as him, and it took him 2 years to recover but now you’d never know he was ever in an accident. “2 years. That’s a long time.” he said. It is a long time, but he was really badly hurt. “Mom, I think I died. I have a traumatic brain injury and my brain is having a hard time now. I can’t find the words.” “#3, a month ago you weren’t talking at all. 2 weeks ago you had words but none of them made sense. Now you can have a conversation and only miss a word now and then.”

A lot happened. People all of the world have been praying for him. He knows he is a miracle. He knows God has a plan for him, but right now he has to focus on getting his body working well, and getting his mind back on track. He may never recover those lost 3-1/2 years, or they might come back in bits and pieces, or he might wake up one morning and remember everything. No one can answer that. I hope he gets it back, so he can remember the birth of his son and all the things he and his family have done. I hope he can get back the skills and knowledge he had, and be able to return to work, or maybe school, or something. But for now, I am resting in the place where he’s at now. He’s talking, and walking (with help), in physical therapy to get his left arm and leg working like it should. That’s his job now.

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