Yes, it’s true my friends, The Heart of the BottomsUp 2/3 Acre had temporarily lost all smiles. My dad had almost died. He suffered a silent heart attack and the list of complications that followed just added to the trauma striking at the heart of this family and to our extended family. It seemed as if the world was in a deep, thick fog. And yet, you could still see the clear blue skies, and the hustle and bustle of the world that never stops.
This story is not easy to write and frankly, I have no idea where this will go. Then again, I never had any idea where any of my stories would end up. I just know I need to write, and all stories I write come from the Heart of the BottomsUp 2/3 Acre. A place that we have been blessed with to keep things simple, and pure. Where most noise around here are the crows from roosters and the laughter of family finding the joy in the characters of the creatures our Creator made.
But truthfully, as awesome as that sounds, even reality of this wonderful place can become clouded. I could still see my beautiful homestead. I could still see it thriving and being blessed. I could still hear the occasional laughter around me, but it was all muffled. The pain of my almost lost, ran deep. The witnessing of justifiable fear and confusion of a loved one fighting with all he had, had taken it’s toll out of me. And, if that wasn’t enough I was smacked in the face with a very unhealthy dose of disillusion. More simply, put metaphorically; my goose was stolen and cooked by someone I trusted.
So what do you do when tragedy strikes your heart and steals your smile. Well, I can only tell you what we here on the BottomsUp 2/3 Acre did. We did as each was able to, in working as a team. Our oldest son was contacted on the road. His boss compassionately understood and got George as close to the hospital as he could. My loving husband, hunkered in the homestead with the boys and became the outside line to extended family. He sent me on my way to mom and dad to do all that I had trained for in life, to that point. Funny you never know who your training will be used for. All my past experiences of operations, health studies and my trials of fear, preparations of the ‘what if’s’, and organizing of time had come into play.
I can say I’m thankful for my training in emergency situations, and for having been witness to love ones caring for loved ones, in such a state. I’m thankful for my experiences of being a patient about to enter OR to save my life. And I’m thankful for braving the talks with family for the ‘what if’s’. All of these helped me be a better helper, despite my heart breaking.
There was nothing complicated. Even though everything felt complicated. All I had to do was follow through with what I had learned in life. And I did, in all it’s simplicity and love. The hospital and all their wonderful medical teams can take care of what they are professionals in; the human body. But it’s only family that can take care of the spirit and the soul’s heart. Just by being present can help calm a loved one. The support of them seeing that they are not alone. Someone is there with them and listening to them. I can not emphasize enough the importance I saw that it is to listen. Don’t argue and don’t disqualify what the person is trying to say. Whatever it is they are trying to say, it is important to them and for whatever reason, they know this might be their last chance. That alone tells me it’s important enough to listen. This is something so simple to give. The other, is to touch in loving kindness, like a cool wash cloth to freshen their face, brushing their hair, a non-scented hand lotion, and chap-stick. Yes, even for a man; hospitals are always dry. Unless you’ve been there, then you know, otherwise take my word for it, these jesters speak volumes of a loving spirit to a scared soul. The comfort given this way runs deep.
Dad’s surgery was short and without complications. And to our surprise he was sitting up talking when we were allowed in to see him. Oh the silent prayers of thankfulness followed by more, for all the family we knew who kept vigilance with us.
With the immediate scare over, you would think that this would be where I get to start writing about how the cloudy skies are clearing and the muddy waters still. But it didn‘t work that way. No, the true tragedy is only partly finished and the story has only begun. You see the doctor’s rightfully, don’t stop there. They want to know why the silent heart attack happened, and will there be future complications. And you know what? This family is asking the very same questions for the future. What triggered this? And, what do we need to change to head off repeats?
With stability comes rehabilitation. The changes have started in the heart of this family. Healthy diets are being more scrutinized, and precautions of a safety life-style are being met as our individual needs change . Changes for a better productive life are being made, not just for my dad but for all of us.
And, like I said in the beginning… I didn’t know where this was going to go. But I think I know now… It’s for me.
This story is for me. This is my recovery story of family trauma. The trauma that has attacked my dad’s heart also struck this family, as well as, the very core of my soul. Everything I ever learned about, the what to do in the such, I tried to put in practise. Sadly, it left me feeling abandoned in more ways than one. What I thought could be easily set to flow, with everyone doing their part, never got off the ground and it smacked me slap upside the head. If you’ve ever lost someone, and yes, I have survived the lost of loved ones, then you know the reality of what I’m about to say. If you haven’t, then maybe my experience will help head off some mistakes you would’ve made.
I had a hard lesson after the first week. It left me crippled, and I couldn’t fix it. Not even by applying all that I had learned throughout my many life’s challenges. The thing is, I knew how to get us all on the road to recovery, but what I didn’t account for, was you can’t control other people, you can only control yourself. When one family member hurts, they all hurt. So we needed to work as a team. As some of you know, in emergency situations things move quickly. There is not much time to think, only time to act. Every moment is spent towards getting the family into the new change and into a peaceful way. A family should move as one body to meet the changing needs. Sounds great, however, not all family members learn at the same pace, and some just simply don’t want to change.
“You can lead in wisdom, but you can’t make them learn.”
An elderly gentleman, I had the honour to know briefly, once counselled me in a tough situation, he said, “when you know in your heart, 100% that you are right, and they still don’t get it, ask yourself, is the fight worth being right or is there a bigger picture worth keeping?” He’s right. And this advise worked perfectly for then, and many times since. But honestly, it’s got to be one of the hardest things on earth to do! This thought lingered in the back of my mind but I couldn’t figure out how to apply it this time. How do you apply this when you are right about the bigger picture?
Our families’ life had been turned up side down completely. For the first few days, we were only running on 3 hours sleep and little food. Too afraid to leave the post. Not because of the real possibility of what could happen. No, it was more of the fact of not being there for when he wakes up. Our presence speaks without words, the message of love, and we are standing with you steadfastly. Then, when we were kindly kicked out, after granted a few extra hours, we did the many things needed to be figured out and planned. But it can’t be done by one person. Exhaustion on many levels finally crashed and burned me, but in all my stubbornness I still continued to beat my head against a wall. That is until, I read some gentle words that said “sometimes we are made to lie down beside still waters. It’s okay; you can. And when the time is made right, come back out fighting….and win.”
What did I do? I did just what I read. Some words, you know, as hard as they may be to follow, bring comfort and confidence because you know they are right.
It was odd at first and not my usual way at all. Mine is one of a bull in a china shop. Loud, feisty, with a git’r done NOW attitude. So you can easily imagine that the first 24hrs of lying down beside still waters weren’t really quiet, but at least the noise was kept to a smaller audience. (by the way my husband probably owes a case of 24 (beer) to my smaller audience). But after a time I got use to this way and started to actually find a nice quietness. The right time was revealed and beyond a shadow of doubt. What was needed to be heard was, and the family got back on track together.
It wasn’t as easy as I made it sound. Not by any means. Sometimes what needs to be said to loves, can only be said by a love. And when you really think about it, who better? You know that it would be the last possible resort and they would be sick themselves just for having done it, until the dust settles. Fresh wounds take time; good hearts yearn to heal fast and be together again.
There’s nothing that can better a good family rhythm and when it’s off you crave it that much more. It’s the most beautiful thing ever! It’s all the beautiful things ever created wrapped up in a perfect day and set to flow in harmony to a song angels sing. Yes, it’s that good!
These are some things we did and are doing that brought back the smiles and laughter, to win together as one whole family. The key to surviving a family trauma, I believe, is the preparation as a family. Talk to each other. Include those who are mature enough to understand that the ‘what if’s’ can and do happen. Our youngest adult in the family has played some major parts and brought with him some great comfort to the whole. But what I think was the glue that held us all together and will continue to aid us in the future through the rough roads of character building, is the fact that we all are aiming toward the same goal. A family working together toward one goal, is like a marriage. There will be fights and ugly times. Expect it. Plan for it. Life is not a fairy-tale story where you live happily ever after. We have chewed over the fact that we all are ‘bone heads’ and we all get tired, stubborn, have those irritating quirks that make us who we are. We realize that we have a hard road ahead. But it’s a road that will define who we will be tomorrow. Yes, there are speed-bumps and pot-holes in the true-life stories. There are yield signs and go signs. Our family found it profitable, by making it known, that we can all still feel safe knowing that times like theses WILL NOT DESTROY the bigger picture. The picture of the family within a castle, within a Mansion.
“A smile is a light in the window of the soul, indicating that the heart is at home.” ~ Unknown~
” Life’s not the breath you take, but the moments that take your breath away.” ~ The Breath You Take, by George Strait, singer and song writer ~
“To love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way.” ~ Plato ~
(C) Mammy Oaklee