When you are suddenly awakened in the middle of the night by the ringing of a phone, your heart stops for a split second. In this way I learned of the beginning of a drastic change to my family, me, and life as I know it.
The caller told me that my dad had come through his second surgery in a week and there wasn’t much progress. The infection in his wrist and hand was unlike anything any doctor at the medically acclaimed hospital had ever seen. Over the course of the next 3 weeks my family would spend countless hours at my father’s bedside and in surgery waiting rooms doing just that…waiting.
My father is a unique man. His life has been shaped by strong faith, hard work, and love. His days have been spent working fields, harvesting crops, feeding livestock, and doing all of the other jobs needed to run a 3rd generation family farm. Growing up, I remember many days of my dad leaving before dawn and returning long past sunset. Through all the long hours and hard work, he taught us that giving time to God and showing love for family is our most important work here on earth.
It was faith and love that led us through the waiting. “An infection we can’t control” and “it just keeps coming back” were words we became used to hearing and repeating as we communicated dad’s health to each other on a daily basis. Dilauded and Rocephin became intertwined with Hail Mary and Our Father. After 5 surgeries, the diagnosis was bleak. Our family was worn, our father’s 70 year old body had begun to fail from the anesthetic and we were now faced with the eye of the storm. He would lose his right hand.
My father’s reaction to this news: “Well, it’s done me a lot of good for a lot of years.” Then we prayed. We prayed for strength to bring our father through the final surgery and we prayed for the ability for all of us to cope and help him cope. Only the last we didn’t need to pray for. It was his strength that pulled us through. After coming out of the final surgery, his wife and 9 children standing around his bedside, his arm now handicapped, he looked at us and said, “I don’t want to see those sad faces anymore.”
Today you can find him working a field, harvesting his crops, and doing all the things he used to do with two hands, only now a little modified. It is through my father’s reaction to tragedy that I have learned one of life’s greatest lessons. Your life is what you make of it. If you let hardship get the best of you, then you live a hard life. Instead if you look for the good in the bad, and give of yourself for others, your life will be a gift that keeps giving long after you are done living.
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