she smiled.

They’ve told us that there’s no way of knowing what Mom will be like once she is fully awake. They’ve told us that there’s no telling when she will be ready for rehab. They’ve told us that no one can predict when Mom will be ready for the tracheotomy to be removed. They’ve told us that there’s no indication yet of whether Mom will have full function of her arms and legs.

But today, she smiled at me.

She had not done that up to now since the accident. I walked in this morning. She was awake. Her eyes opened a little wider as I walked around the bed and sat beside her. I touched her left shoulder and smiled at her and enthusiastically announced my arrival with a lively, “Hey!!!”

She opened her eyes wide, found mine, and smiled at me. It was a half smile. The left side of her face, springing to life half of an expression that we all have missed so much. I am not sure if it was a half smile due to what we’ll find out are long-term issues with the right side of her face, or if it was a half smile due to weakness and atrophy. But she smiled.

And I lit up. I probably talked her ear off for the next 20 minutes, I was so excited. She kept her eyes open for most of the time, occasionally closing them for a brief respite (either cause she needed it or hoping I would shut up).

Mom is progressing so much it seems. I know it is baby steps. And I know she could certainly have a setback any day (that’s what we are told). But each day so far this week, there has been something new.

Yesterday and today I called Dad while I was with Mom to let him talk to her over the speaker phone. She nodded at his questions, and I translated. She is opening her eyes wider than ever. She moved both right and left feet and toes. And today she turned her neck slightly to the right, which she has not done (not much now – but it was a definite effort that was followed by a grimace). Pretty awesome!!!

Oh yeah – I mentioned before that she is trying to mouth stuff from time to time. She did it to Sheila and Pattie today, too. She has mouthed “I love you, too” to me several times. Today, before I left to drive back over to Dad’s place, I told her what I was doing (heading over to check on Dad). Before I could tell her I love her, she mouthed “I love you.” It made my heart well up big time. I love my Mom.

Yesterday, when I showed her a piece of art of various flowers Caleb made from construction paper, she loved it. Her eyes widened, and she mouthed, “Very beautiful.”

I asked her physical therapy doctor this afternoon about Mom’s tracheotomy and therapy. When would she begin weaning off the trach and when would they get more aggressive with her therapy? She responded:

It will fully depend upon your Mom being able to be fully awake for long periods of time. But, let me assure you, based on what I have seen in the past with other patients (she was an experienced doctor), your Mom is fully there mentally, and I believe she will recover well. She may end up with some disability in her left arm, but so far it’s too early to tell anything else.

We’ll take it. Erik and I were talking last night, and we agreed – we are simply thankful to have Mom back to the point where we can at least talk with her. Erik comes back in tomorrow. I can’t wait to see him. I know he is anxious to interact with Mom and Dad.

Dad has had a grueling but great day. When I arrived this morning, he was waking up. I had his Tall Decaf. He was grateful. He sat up to eat breakfast and sip his coffee. We slid him over to the potty chair. We slid him back over to the bed for a sponge bath. We got him dressed. We looked through some cards people have sent. And, the therapist walked in to get him.

He had three therapy sessions today! Wow!!! He said they really worked him hard. Good stuff. Erik and I told him he’s gonna be stronger when this is over than he was before the accident. I bet he will be like “Awnold” was in his prime before rehab is done.

I asked Dad about his thoughts on today. Here’s what he said:

“The thing that I liked most about this day is the thought that people are really paying attention to Mom. She is the one who needs that interaction, and I really am grateful for what people are doing. There was a woman who came by to see me, for instance, who left from here to go see Mom simply to go and sing to her. That really meant a lot to me.”

That is a direct quote from a man sitting in a wheelchair right now wearing hospital socks, “Justice League” pajama pants, a “Superman” T-Shirt, and a neck-collar. He is the epitomy of cool (in my opinion).

While sitting in his wheelchair today, and while I was over with Mom, Dad had a first. He rolled himself into the bathroom, tinkled in his tinkle jar (as we say since Dad has 8 grandkids below the age of 7), washed his hands, and rolled back into his room. He has been sitting up in his wheelchair or in therapy all but about 30 minutes today. Way to go Pop!!! I bet he will sleep well tonight.

Dad got to talk to the Orlando grandkids this afternoon, too, on the phone. He hopes to talk to Erik’s kids tonight.

We are going to go for a walk now. Well, I am gonna walk and Dad is gonna wheel. Then, I am going to head to grab some take-out for the both of us.

Let me know if you want anything…

home for the weekend

 

This past weekend, Erik and Erin drove down to be with Mom and Dad in their respective hospitals, and I flew home to be with my family (Jen and the kids, as well as our church family). It was such an amazing homecoming. 

I changed my flight to arrive late Friday night, since Mom woke up Friday morning. It gave me a little bit more time with her and a little bit of time to celebrate with Dad and Erik and Erin. The girls were already in bed, so Caleb and Jen came to pick me up. 

The van pulled up to the curbside, the door slid open, and this amazing seven-year-old leaped into my arms. I have not had a sweeter hug from him. I have never been apart from my family for three weeks. It had been that long since Mom and Dad’s accident. My beautiful wife held me…for a while. Security was gracious. 

The next day, we went to Caleb’s flag football game. The first I had seen, because I had been away. He did so well! I love watching him with all his energy and the way he encourages his teammates. 

Afterward, we headed to EPCOT for a fun family day. It was amazing. Here’s a little video of some of the highlights. 

I have to tell this quick story. We walked up to the “Test Track” ride to see what the “Fast Pass” wait was and to measure Katey to see if she was tall enough to ride now. She was!!! However, the wait was like 85 minutes in line and the “Fast Pass” return time was later than we were going to be able to stay.

A Disney cast member noticed us. Jen and I later wondered if she was an angel. We never saw her again, even though we sought after her to thank her for what she did. Not sure if God would send an angel to get us onto the “Test Track” ride. 

Regardless, that’s what she did. She asked us, “Is this her first time to be tall enough to ride?” We told her yes, just thinking she was making conversation. She obviously had seen us processing how long the wait was and how late the return for the “Fast Pass” was. She said, “Come on. I will walk you up and get you on.”

She escorted us into the exit and through some secret passageway that opened up right at the first car. She put us next in line to get on. I went with Katey first. Caleb surprised us and said he didn’t want to do it until he was eight. He is like that. Cautious at first, and needing of time to process and make a plan and build up courage. Katey – she jumps off the cliff without a parachute. She loved it! 

“Wooooo-hooooooo! Can we do that again?”

I told her we would have to do it next time we came and to please make sure and thank the lady who got us on. She was anxious to thank her. Like I said, we couldn’t find her. Before she disappeared, she did walk back out and give Jen passes to switch with me as the “adult” escorting the kid on the ride. They do that – pretty cool service for parents with young kids. Katey got her wish and rode a second time with Jen. Very special memory.

The next morning blew me away. At Westpoint’s worship gathering, the welcome and the hugs and the celebration was overwhelmingly beautiful. It was a much different feel than I think we all thought it would be earlier in the week when we made plans for me to fly back home for the weekend. Mom had awakened. 

You may or may not remember, but I played Mom a message before she awakened of that the kids had left on my voice mail. They were singing the song “My God Is So Big.” It definitely moved Mom. Even while still in the coma, we could tell by her expression that it caught her attention. 

Well, Ted and the band had worked it out with Jen and the kids for Caleb and Katey and Abby to come up and lead the congregation in singing the song. WOW! So touched my heart. Meant so, so, much. Thanks to those of you who thought of doing that. 

Our God is so BIG. And more than faithful. Thank you, Lord, that in Your grace and mercy and purposes you are healing Mom and Dad. We trust you – the God who gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!!!

for better or for worse. in sickness and in health.

49 years is a long time. No matter how you cut it, even when life can change so suddenly. 49 years of marriage today, and this situation epitomizes the two above phrases common to most marriage vows. Mom and Dad are living that out. 

I will admit to you, being honest – I am struggling today to be hopeful for Mom. I know I shouldn’t be. It’s just the heaviness of what I see in Dad’s eyes today and what I can’t see in Mom’s and what I can’t imagine he is thinking. 

I desperately hope she wakes up. Dad told me this morning he is trying to be hopeful, and that he is trusting and surrendering, no matter what.

When they married at 18, it certainly would be a stretch to say that Dad could have envisioned he would “celebrate” his 49th anniversary in a hospital bed with his wife in another bed, five floors down, and in a coma. I saw it in Dad’s eyes this morning, and when he shook his head and sighed (thinking I didn’t notice). 

Your prayers for him and Mom mean so much right now. He especially needs it today. 

This morning, Erik and I toured the hospital where Mom and Dad will likely be transferred first. It is here in New Orleans in uptown. Kindred Hospital is a national franchise and listed as Fortune 500’s #1 most admired private hospital (something like that), according to a banner in the cafeteria. 

Four out of five physicians recommend it (I have always wanted to say that about something :o). Seriously, every doctor and nurse where Mom and Dad are now listed it as the top hospital for Mom and Dad’s needs at the present time. We will see once Dad is ready for rehab, whether we stay here in New Orleans or transfer them both back to Orlando. Erik and I are not sure what to do there or what we will be able to do. Please pray for wisdom for us on that one. Pray for favor with all the insurance stuff, too.

Mom had surgery on her tongue around midday. It was unexpected for us, even though we knew it would need to be repaired at some point. Glad they went ahead. I’ll let you know tomorrow how that goes. Not sure yet. She had either bitten it in the accident, or it had been eroded by one of her tubes in her mouth in the ICU. Not sure which. They had to take some of it that was damaged beyond repair out and sew it back together. Sorry if that is too graphic for some. Just letting you know what’s going on.

Dad had a great morning of therapy. He has had guests all day and hopefully will take a nap here shortly. He needs that rest. It looks like he will be transfered to that other hospital for long-term care and pre-rehab stuff probably early next week. We hope to see Mom transferred soon there, too.

Erik flew out just a few minutes ago. He is heading home this afternoon. He will be back next Friday. I will fly home next week for a few days. I am pumped that he will get to see my awesome nephews and his sweet wife! I will miss him, though. We’ve been leaning on each other a lot. I am more than blessed with my brother. Not only has he always been one of my best friends, but he has lived out and taught me the ways of Jesus like no other. I love him so much. 

How awesome, though, has “the church” been in all of this. You all have loved us more than we could have ever imagined through this. I honestly can’t put into words how grateful we are. And I was blessed this morning again in several ways. With Erik leaving for the first time since the accident, Chris Mayberry (one of my closest friends) flew up from Orlando to be with me for two days. And, he brought several monetary gifts from some very generous and loving folks back home in Orlando as well as from Jackson, TN (they had mailed it to our home). He also brought underwear – pretty important. 

To my love, Jen – I was overwhelmed watching my Dad see Mom again for the first time since the accident. I pray we will see 49 years together, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, no matter what. And I hope the same for all of the rest of you who are married. Cherish today. Relish in the blossoming beauty of your marriage. Forgive now if you need to. Reconcile and live in the abundance of the relationship most like what God desires with us. And love, selflessly, no matter what.

FIND PREVIOUS AND FUTURE UPDATES ON MOM AND DAD AT THEIR caring bridge site. 

update on mom and dad, april 11th

Erik and I are in Pop’s room with him right now. He is eating strawberry jello and acting more and more like himself. We went to McAllister’s Deli and got him a yummy baked potato. He ate about a 1/3 of it. He was thankful for non-hospital food, which is funny cause he’s only been able to actually eat it for two days now. I imagine we’ll be grabbing take-out for a while to come.

Those of you who know Pop know that he is pretty picky about food and very selective of the great food he normally eats. How can he help it having been in New Orleans for so long. His favorite restaurant is here, and Erik and I intend to take him to Drago’s as soon as he is able to do something like that – probably will be a long time before he could get in and out of a car. 

Honestly, he is simply thankful to be alive and look in our eyes and see visitors and hear of the love from all of you. He is moved to tears when we tell him how many visits there are on this site. He wells up when we tell him of the comments that you all have left. Thank you so much.

Dad is doing pretty well today. He’s not a pain in the neck at all, but his neck has caused him some pain today. His arm, too. He’s been very himself, with occasional ins and outs from the pain meds. He has definitely not lost his sense of humor. He has definitely not lost his sense of listening to God, either. He told me a moment ago – “I just simply sense the Lord whispering, ‘Peace.’ And I trust Him.”

He said to Erik and me today, “It is really amazing what people have done to show us how much they love us.” And it has. Erik and I can’t thank you enough. 

He is moved every time he talks about or thinks about Mom. He desperately wants to see her. I look forward to that time with both anticipation and pain. I know he will struggle seeing her. I know also how deeply he loves her and how much it will mean to him.

Jen and I were beginning to talk the other day about how we will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Their 49th wedding anniversary is next Thursday. It would be awesome if they could at least see each other that day. Erik and Erin will be married 10 years the next day – April 17th. Then Mom’s sister and her husband have been married over 55 years I believe on the 18th. Not sure of the exact number. 

All this to say – pray for Dad to continue to get rest as he prepares for intensive rehab. Our friend, Don Richard, prayed today something very meaningful for Pop – “Lord, give Jimmy the grace to receive ministry.” Very important, because Dad is one of those sheep that Jesus describes in Matthew 25 who has not kept score of his good. He has simply given love as freely as it has been given to him without notice or reward. Erik and I have been blessed to witness it.

Mom is pretty much the same. Let’s continue to pray for her to “come alive again” tomorrow in some way. 

We love yall so much. Very sincerely – your outpouring of love on Mom and Dad and Erik and Erin and their kids and Jen and our kids and me has meant so very much.

We’ll update again tomorrow. Have a HAPPY EASTER!!!

an update on mom and dad april 10th

A local news station, WWL, and a very kind reporter who found out about Mom and Pop’s accident from a friend, covered Mom and Pop’s story today. It was a featured story – 2nd in the lineup at 9pm and 10pm. 

Thank you, Susan Edwards, for your compassionate heart and your sincere concern for our family. We appreciate the story highlighting the love of Mom and Dad shared all these years and the amazing outpouring of love toward them since the accident. 

Here’s the link:

http://www.wwltv.com/video/news-index.html?nvid=350935

Just wanted to share it with yall.

__________________________________

Here’s an update from today:

Today was a busy day with Pop and more of the same with Mom.

Early this morning, they transitioned Pop out of the ICU. They moved him to his own room. There they will continue to help his bones heal, manage his pain, and begin rehab. His rehab will consist for several weeks of simple things – moving his legs and arms in his bed, transfering him out of bed (by carrying him – he can’t put weight on his legs yet) to sit in a comfortablechair, and watching the news while displaying his stellar sense of humor to the nurses and visitors. 

Still no word on when they will repair his wrist. Erik and I saw his arm and legs without bandages and splints today, while they were changing his dressings. WOW. Lots of road rash. Lots of bruising. Pretty rough stuff. The doctor said it all seems to be healing well.

Pop complained of his head and neck more today. Not worried yet, but definitely gonna keep an eye on it. He does have the fracture in his neck they said would heal. He also had a minor head injury with some bleeding, which they said resolved. 

Mom is still in a deep coma. She continued to make baby steps common for head injury patients – like basic reflexes to discomfort. She cringes prettily heavily and moves around a bit when they are suctioning her and cleaning her teeth and mouth. The response subsides completely afterward. She is still not interacting with us in a noticable way. 

We were encouraged by the rehab doctor. He said their team would work hard to get Mom and Pop in the same rehab facility. We hope that will be the case. 

We continue to be so blessed by the prayers, the visitors, the food delivered to the hospital and to where we are staying, and more. Thank you all so very much – in New Orleans, in Booneville, in Orlando, and in so many other places. It is so clear that they have loved on so many folks. We are so thankful.

Jen walked through all the comments on the Caring Bridge site the other night and counted at least 30 states and 5 countries represented among the comments. SO AMAZING!!!

We love you all. Please keep praying for Mom and Pop. Please keep praying for for Mom to show some kind of interaction – any kind. Please pray for Pop to rest and heal and be patient in this very long recovery process. Please pray for Erin and Jen and the kids as they continue to hold down the fort at our respective homes. We have been video chatting with them some. We miss them. Thanks to all who have loved on them and played with them there. 

One of the ladies in the waiting room who is with a family we have connected with there keeps grabbing me by the shoulders, giving me a hug, and telling me this – “God can. God will. God must.”

We hope and believe He will. Thanks for your support in this difficult time. You all have blessed us richly.

april 8th update on mom and dad

Erik and I left the hospital this afternoon for a few minutes, just to get some fresh air and a cup of coffee, before we head back to be with Mom and Dad. Neat little coffee shop on the corner of Camp and Girod called PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans. The white mochas aren’t as good as yours Josh, but I dig the spot. In the heart of downtown NOLA. 

Anyway, you didn’t ask for local entertainment and eatery recommendations I know. So, we thought we would put a new post here to update you on Mom and Dad. With Erik here with me, I will be able to give you a better description of the medical side of what’s going on. Sorry if stuff is redundant. Days and news are starting to run together, and we’re a bit tired. Sorry if stuff is redundant. Days and news are starting to run together, and we’re a bit tired. 

It’s Wednesday afternoon I know now. It’s funny. I thought it was Thursday earlier today. I even texted one of the college students I teach on Thursday mornings to update them on mom and dad, and tell them I hope they enjoy class with the amazing substitute that’s coming. Thanks, Bill Faulkner. But it’s not Thursday. It’s Wednesday.

Dad came out of surgery around noon central time. He was quite groggy. Same kind of reaction as from the surgery Monday. Struggling to come out from under the meds and struggling with the pain. But his left arm is now on the way to recovery. They surgically repaired his humerus (the bone between the shoulder and the elbow). They also fixed his ulna (in his wrist). He will probably be transitioned out of ICU tomorrow, at least we think so, into a step-down room.

It was kind of funny and tough to take all at the same time. In a matter of 20 seconds, he looked me in the eyes and said, “You stole money from me…(a few second pause)…I love you so much.” We are praying he will get good rest today and tonight and be more like himself tomorrow.

Mom is about the same, as far as you would know if you visited her yesterday and then again today. Still in what the doctor called a “deep coma.” The doctor that talked with us this morning explained a little more about the next steps, assuming Mom continues to progress, even if it is really, really, really small baby steps (this is going to be a long road). He said she would need a tracheotomy (for breathing) and a peg tube (a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube) for feeding. They told us that the swelling was down some more, and that on the CT they could see the ventricles in the middle of her brain carry fluid to and fro – something they had not been able to see before because of the swelling. THAT’S GOOD NEWS, EVEN IF IT IS A VERY MINOR PROGRESSION. At least it’s some kind of progress. No word yet on when they think she could leave the ICU and transition to a long-term care facility. She is still not responsive. 

Erik and I sang some hymns over her together. Jen sent me a voice mail with the kids wishing her “get well’s” and asking her to come play. I played it for her twice today. One time this morning in the left ear, then one time this afternoon in the right ear. Just in case she can only hear in one of them.

People continue to pray and send cards and emails and texts and facebook messages and twitters and more. THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY MUCH. Erik and I can’t thank you enough.

We spent time once we got to the apartment last night reading through your amazing notes on the guestbook of this site. We were able to get through 8 pages before being too sleepy to read anymore. We plan on reading more tonight. WE ALSO PLAN ON READING THEM TO DAD ONCE HE IS SETTLED IN A ROOM. I have shared some with Mom, already, as I have been able to, just so she could be encouraged by your love.

With all the sincerity I can muster – your prayers mean so very much. We don’t take them lightly, and we don’t take them for granted.

Thanks to everyone from so many places. Keep praying, please.

OH, BY THE WAY – my dad taught for me on Sunday morning atWestpoint’s worship gathering (our local church there in Orlando) back on March 29th. I asked him to teach that day, because of the specific passage of Scripture we were on. We are walking through 1st John right now, and it was the chapter on how the Father lavishes His love on us and calls us His children. I wanted him to teach that passage, because he has been an amazing picture of the heavenly Father as both a father and grand-father. He did, and it was awesome!

So many of you who were there that Sunday morning have commented to me in some form of how much it meant to you. If you were there, could you please take a minute to go to click on the title of this post (“april 8thupdate on mom and dad”), then leave a comment below the posting – something about what His teaching that day meant to you? I will read it to him after he is more himself. That would mean so much. 

Thanks so much. Erik and I love you. Thanks for loving on Mom and Dad and Erin and Jen and the kids!!! It has been an amazing display of the love that Christ desires from His church.

jason and erik

my mom and dad

Wow – first I have to write to tell all of you that Erik and I and our wives and kids are so blessed and so overwhelmed by the love you all have poured out to us and our mom and dad since Saturday night. Too many to mention, so please let this suffice as at least a first of hopefully many thank you’s that will come. Secondly, we have been so touched by the number of people who have responded to this tragic situation with our parents and have been praying in their local communities for mom and dad and our family. We so appreciate it and love you all so much. 

This has been hard. Just being honest. I have even been thinking a lot in the last year about how Jen and I and Erik and Erin are entering a season of life where walking with our parents toward death is a reality. This situation has brought it into full attention. That is ok, because death is inevitable, at least from these mortal bodies. The sorrow that causes for all of humanity angers me, a bit like Jesus was angered by it in John 11, because the havoc wreaked from what happened in the Garden continues to wreak havoc in the lives of the people God loves so much all over the world. Oh for the day when restoration is ultimately completed. Nonetheless, this has been hard. 

It’s been hard simply processing that mom and dad were run over by an SUV. It kills me inside to think of the horror and hurt of that moment. The driver did stop. He is very disturbed. Please pray for him, too.

It’s been hard looking at a woman who was once a stunning beauty and who at 68 looked 45 now be reduced to a mostly shaved head and a large piece of her skull missing to relieve the pressure from the swelling of her brain. It’s been hard speaking to and singing to Mom and not hearing her beautiful voice or feeling her love pats that she became famous for among the people who know her well. It’s been hard watching dad hurt so much from multiple fractures and hurt when he breathes. It’s been hard. 

It’s been hard talking on the phone to Jen and the kids back in Orlando and Katey asking me to ask Ammaw if she can come over soon to watch Tom and Jerry. It’s been hard hearing Abby ask for her “Big Bird” (what she calls Pop right now – she loves to pretend) and for her Ammaw to come over to play. It’s been hard knowing that Caleb knows what’s going on, and Katey somewhat, and the thought of them not interacting with Mom the same way again. It’s been hard knowing all those boys of Erik’s who have been eagerly looking forward to Pop and Ammaw’s visit that would have happened next this Friday (April 10th) will be disappointed. 

It’s been hard thinking about the stuggle Dad will have to walk again. It’s been hard thinking about whether Mom will even wake up again. It’s been hard.

But it’s been good. 

It’s been good being with friends and family. It’s been good watching the church be the church in so many places – praying, responding, caring, believing. Being a community of people who deeply love each other the way we were intended to love each other.

It’s been good hearing the stories from people whom Mom and Dad have touched and loved and impacted. So many. I told Erik last night, “We swim in the large ocean of Mom and Dad’s faithfulness and love and credibility that has given refreshing water to so many.”

It’s been good knowing that, barring some complication with Dad, that he and I will enjoy a coffee and conversation together again at House Blend Cafe or the Starbuck’s at the Winter Garden Village. 

It’s been good, the support Erik and I both have gotten from those we work with, giving us the freedom to be with Mom and Dad, providing resources to help make it happen. 

It’s been good knowing that, because of that support, I will have so much intense time with my dad and mom helping them recover. 

Thank you for your cards and texts and voice mails and facebook messages and twitters and hugs and support. It’s been good. 

Please pray for Mom to respond in some fashion that demonstrates interaction and isn’t just potentially a motor-sensory reflex. The next two days are crucial. Wednesday night will have been 96 hours since the accident, and the neuro-surgeon said that will be a bit of a landmark time. 

Please pray for Dad to be able to be comforted in his pain. Pray for his surgery tomorrow to fix his left arm – broken in 3 places. He is left-handed, so it will be a long road on that one. Both legs had rods placed in from knee to ankle yesterday afternoon. He won’t be able to walk on it for a month, they said. He has to wear a neck collar for 5 to 6 weeks. They said the fracture in his neck should heal in that time. Several broken ribs punctured his lung, making it hard to breathe. Pray for that to heal well, too. And a long road of rehab. 

By the way – please pray for my friend, Kris DenBesten. His 9 year old daughter still is waiting for a heart transplant. He sent a text of prayer and support. That meant so much, consideringall he is walking through. 

Thanks again to all of you. We love you. I will try to update again soon.