”Miracles happen every day. Not just in remote country villages or at holy sites halfway across the globe, but here, in our own lives.”
– Deepak Chopra
As much as I would like otherwise, I feel that I’m a failure many times over as a Christian.
God must look at what I say and do in everyday life and just shake His loving head disappointed that I should fail so miserably at being a loyal follower.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t look around this world in wonder and realize that God is constantly intervening in the lives of His creations with His grace and mercy.
I’m realistic and have come to expect miracles.
The following local story is one such miracle.
I know a man that comes from our community.
His family was quite poor growing up and he didn’t have an easy life. His father died when he was a small boy. His single mother worked at a sewing factory for over 30 years raising him and his four brothers and sisters. It was a bare living.
He met and married very young to a good woman who also came from a family of humble means.
Together, through thick and thin, they raised their own family of three girls.
I’ll tell you one thing. They worked hard for everything they had. Yes sir, they made their way through this old world bound only by love and no free rides.
He worked past 65 and was nearing retirement when tragedy struck his health.
He had been a heavy smoker as a young man and though he had quit 20 years ago it came back to haunt him.
His throat became hoarse and wouldn’t heal up for a couple of months. He went to see a doctor in June of 2011. It was determined that he had cancer of the larynx (the voice box and vocal chords).
What would your first thought be after this news?
Well, this fellow is a strong man that has always put his wife and kids first. His thought was “Thank God it’s me and not one of my family.” It was a genuine thanks to God.
Radiation treatments began. These treatments were for five days a week for six weeks ending in October 2011.
The treatment was unsuccessful.
Other doctors were consulted and he began laser treatments to end the cancer and save the voice box over a period of months with trips to an out-of- state facility. It was now January 2012. The treatments ended in April 2012.
They were unsuccessful.
Then the man began to pass blood in his urine.
He went to get an x-ray and three more life-threatening problems were found.
The doctors discovered bladder cancer, a very large abdominal aortic aneurysm and almost complete blockage in his heart.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a blood-filled bulge or ballooning in a part of your aorta that runs through your abdomen. Over time, this bulge in your aorta can become weak, and the force of normal blood pressure can cause it to rupture. This can lead to severe pain and massive internal bleeding, or hemorrhage which can be fatal.
The problem was he had to have a triple by-pass surgery on his heart before doctors could treat the aneurysm. Both needed to be treated before further treatment on his voice box cancer could continue and then the bladder cancer could be taken care of.
He had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
At that point, one of his daughters came to her home in near tears as she related all the news to her own family. You see, she had given up on her father coming out of this alive. Her husband thought that the end was near as well.
Their youngest daughter was nine at the time. She listened and comprehended that her Pap-Paw might be dying. She looked up with tear-stained eyes and said, “He’s not giving up is he? You sound like he’s just going to quit trying and die.”
It would be easy to give up.
He was tired and worn out. The pain from all that suffering is more than anyone should bear in a lifetime, let alone in less than a year.
But you know what?
That’s when the miracle happened.
It’s not the man in the fight, but the fight in the man and this man had a lot of fight.
He got the triple bypass surgery in May 2012. He had to go back to the hospital twice to have fluid drawn off his lungs.
He went to the UK Markey Cancer Center in June 2012 because he couldn’t breath. He thought it was the fluid on his lungs again, only to learn that it was the now rapidly growing cancer in his throat shutting off his oxygen. He had a tracheotomy (breathing tube surgically put into the windpipe).
Two weeks later, he had surgery on the aneurysm. The doctor had told him he could die on the operating table and gave no promises.
He had a total laryngectomy (the removal of the entire voice box and epiglottis) in July 2012.
He had his bladder cancer surgery a couple of weeks later.
Today he talks with a prosthesis and seems happy and content with the new lease on life that he was given despite all he has gone through. He’s not a bitter or angry man, though he lost his voice and suffered so much.
He told me God got him through his trials and tribulations. Those closest to him say that he was the calm one throughout everything. He said he now reads his Bible every day.
All his kids and grandkids received an early inheritance. It was living proof that you should never quit on God, your family or life. It’s not over until God says it’s over.
It’s a valuable inheritance they can carry throughout their own lives to remember when times get tough.
This is especially so for the youngest grandchild named Belle, who so worried that night that her Pap-Paw was going to quit trying.
It also showed me that when the chips are down, my father-in-law never would be.
Merry Christmas, Lenny.
Thank you for being my father-in-law.