This year has been a roller coaster of one bad thing happening after another. It actually started November of last year when my dad lost his job, and we found out he had an irregular heartbeat. From there we have seen specialists and been given medication that costs a fortune, not mention the hospital bills and just the emotional stress that comes along with the diagnosis of an enlarged heart and AFib. Things were starting to look up towards the end of January. We were told that my dad would be able to control his heart problems with medication, diet, and exercise. He immediately began searching for a job so that we could get back on our feet financially. A few days later, he had a job lined up in another state, which is normal considering he’s a combination pipe welder for construction companies. Finally, we were able to breathe and relax our shoulders from the weight of the world.
On February the 1steverything changed. I was at a book signing in Tuscaloosa when I received an emotional call from my mother that my dad had suffered a stroke. He had a blood clot in his brain, and we had no idea what the future would hold. I cannot begin to describe how my world crashed around me. I could not believe that my once strong and capable father had to be dressed by my mother and taken to the hospital. That da will forever be emblazoned in my memory. As soon as I returned, I rushed to the hospital, got my hysterical crying in check, and walked into a hospital room where my dad looked weak and almost childlike. It broke me to see him in such a state. The next few days were torment. My dad was no longer the fun-loving man that loved to make you laugh and joked about everything. He had been replaced with an angry man that lashed out at my mother as well as nurses and doctors. His physical deficits were weakness, a slight droopiness to the left side of his face, and a shoulder that pained him to even lift his hand. It was the personality and mental deficits that tore at my heart.
My dad could remember long-term facts from his previous doctor’s visits, but he couldn’t recall an answer to a question he asked five minutes ago. One of his specialist doctors berated my mother for not calling an ambulance, and basically said she was lucky she didn’t kill my dad. She couldn’t afford an ambulance ride, and as close as we live to the hospital, she got him there as fast as an ambulance would have. I could not stand to see my parents in such pain, and all I had to offer was prayer and kind words. I felt useless.
We got to take my dad home two days later, and things have been rough since then. My dad’s memory is not getting better. He puts his shoes on the wrong feet, mixes up stories from his past, and his personality switches from moment to moment. I’m so grateful he’s alive.
My mom and dad went to get assistance for my dad’s $400 medication. They told my dad he would have to be homeless and live in a shelter to receive that assistance. They could not help him if he was able to live in a house. I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but when illegal immigrants can get free housing, medicine, food, and government aide but my father who has worked his whole life and never asked for anything has to be destitute to receive help, it makes me mad. They made my father who didn’t cry when his mother died cry. To say that I was mad is an understatement. I was and still am livid.
I say all of this about this dark time in my family’s life to remind myself as well as others that there is light to be found. I have not lost my faith in God or his promises to me. I am grateful for getting to spend more time with my dad, a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a job. My God will provide a way for my family, of that I am sure.
1 Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (NIV). My light in this darkness is Christ. He will always shine a light on my path and show me where to go. Even when things seem hopeless, God is right here with me.