06 December 2010

July 6

July 6, 2010 is a date etched in my memory.  At the zoo, I received a phone call from my devastated Mom: Dad was in a coma, in the hospital, and not expected to live.  Fortunately I was at the zoo with my mother-in-law Dee Ann.  She was able to watch my children and zoom me over to the ER to be with my mom.  The doctor sat us down in a little room.  Just Mom, Mike (a great family friend), and me.  The ER doc was surprised Dad had survived the stroke and informed us he would need immediate brain surgery if he were to have any chance at survival.  Without hesitation Mom said "yes" to which the doc replied "I don't want to sound grim, but the truth is he may be blind, paralyzed, and unable to speak or communicate.  This is a massive stroke".

My brothers Daniel and Ammon arrived, followed by my husband Matt. Our two other brothers Sam and John were out of town at the time but got to the hospital as soon as possible (and thankfully without any speeding tickets!).  Slowly people from the Ward and neighborhood made their way up to the hospital as we numbly waited for any news.

Thankfully he made it out of surgery.  We still had no idea what the extent of permanent damage would be.  We all were frustrated to learn the only way to learn that is to wait and see. The waiting made more difficult by the comatose state he remained in for weeks.

At first we were told to make very little noise around him.  That too much would cause his brain an overload of activity.  Those days we were all anxious to stand around his bed all day and pray.

Eventually the doctor told us to play music on headphones for him.  I figured music meant noise so I brought my iPod with "What About Bob" up one day to play for him.  This movie is a real favorite of everyone's and my Dad and I almost daily would text each other some line from that movie.  Maybe it was the "terrets syndrome" that did it, but it was that day that he followed the "commands" I gave him to wiggle his thumb and move his arm!  There was a big celebration! (And actually I always skip the terrets scenes!)

On and on this story goes.  Today my Dad is incredible.  He is amazing. He is loving, charming, sensitive, intuitive, and talkative even, at times. But he lives with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). We are all dealing with this real loss.  Dad is here, but everything has changed.  I will never forget those moments when I learned what happened.  Over and over I realized that life would never be the same.  Not for me, not for my brothers, children or husband, and especially not for my Mom and Dad.  Though his mind does not work as well, and he can't recall what was said seconds ago, I remind him often that what is most important hasn't changed.  My Dad remains a great man.  He remains a faithful man. He remains a man who loves and gives and helps and serves in the capacity that he is able to.  My Dad can't read.  He can't find the fridge sometimes. He can't paint. He can't play games.  He doesn't enjoy movies.  But he can love.  And he does love.  He freely gives his love.  He is still the  great man he has always been and we all love him more than ever!

I don't know if anyone will read this, but I will keep it as my way of honoring my Dad.  Of honoring his life that he has lived and the life he now lives. I intend to make this a positive reminder to myself and others of the gift of family.  The gift of health.  The gift that every day is.  I thank my Heavenly Father for giving those gifts to me. I hope that I will be able to post messages of hope and joy and that others will share theirs with us also.

I don't pretend to be the only one with struggles or difficulties to face.  I don't pretend to be the one with the worst of them either!  If I were to ask any person their history I know I would learn things that would make me glad to be me with the trials I have.  This is just one person's blog of one event that, although common, has changed our lives.


  1. Liz,
    This was so sweet and inspiring. Thank you for sharing, especially at this tender time of the year when we are all more apt to realize the great miracles and blessings in our lives from the birth and life of our Savior. Thank you.
    - Julie Dee

  2. Liz,
    This blog is great thank you very much for writing. Your dad is a great man and I am so glad to know him.

  3. Liz, thanks for following through with your desire to share your families' story. To bring hope and inspiration to others. We sure love your family, and look forward to reading about the growth you all experience.
    Please tell everyone hello!

  4. Our thoughts, hearts, and prayers are with you and your family. I love the stories you have on here. Skizzle Skat is my new favorite word. I'm sure I'll be able to use it somehow today!

  5. Liz, Hi , I've never "blogged" before. So I really don't know what I'm doing, or if you'll even get this message. I "stumbled" (God works in mysterious ways) upon your blog today when I googled about how I could help my father speak after he suffered a hemmorhagic stroke 10 months ago. I am his legal guardian now as him and my mom have been divorced for years. He's in a nursing home due to having high level of needs,but I go weekly and help with therapy, I try everything I can to help him recall words, speak, communicate anyway he can and I manage his finances, and make sure he gets the care he needs.I am hoping he'll progress enough to get to an assisted living home at least. He cannot speak ( he has severe aphasia ) and he has no use of his right side. He's only60! I a busy wife/mother with 4 children ranging in age from 6-15. I have one brother. The last 10 months with my dad's stroke has all been life changing. As I read this entry tears poured down my face because I've thought and felt those same things. How we have hope, but things will never be the same and that does hurt. My dad will never be the same. As the days and months go on and I long to have a conversation with him I miss him even more. I'm thankful he's here but I miss him, I see him weekly, but it's not the same. I just want to help him and it can get so frustrating for everybody when he can't even express his needs and wants. I am so thankful for My faith in a loving God who I know is with us through this all and who knows best and has a plan for each of us and who promises a bright , Eternal future for us all. I'm completely trusing in him. I've found throughout these trials that He is always with us, close and drawing us closer to Him. I couldn't imagine living without that knowledge of his prescense and goodness and knowing He's always there, to celebrate with us and to hold us when we suffer. I think your words are beautiful and uplifting and I thank you for taking the time to share them. I don't "blog" but I do keep a site up for my dad and his family and friends on caringbridge. I just felt overwhelmed today and God led me to this site. So thank you again for your time and your efforts. I'm sure more people than you even know are being blessed by your words. I think God is reaching hearts through you. I know He touched mine today through your words and your grateful heart and your inspiring faith and your entries that point to God, to love and to HOPE. I looked through some of these postings and was blessed in different ways by many. It's nice to know others are dealing with similar things and to hear how God has blessed you lifts me up as well. As I said I have 4 busy kids and I'm blessed to be home with them, so my time is limited, but I had to take some time to look through some of these postings and to thank you! Can you please pray for my dad Ray and for our family, I've started many prayer cirlces, but the more prayers the better, it's SO powerful! Thank you! God Bless! Our continued prayers are with you as well.