The Day That Changed My Life Forever…
It was the last day of March, early morning and my telephone rang.
I picked up the receiver and said, ” Hello.”
It was my dad and he said, ” Hey, baby… Look I’m not feeling too well, and I’m running a little late, so please have Toddy ready to go out the door when I pull in the driveway.”
I said,” Daddy, I’m so sorry you aren’t feeling well. I hope you feel better… I love you!”
He said, ” I love you too and I will be there shortly.”
I could drive my son to school, but my dad liked taking him to spend some time in the morning with his grandson. This was a set pattern that my dad and son had five days a week, unless school was out.
My parents had been divorced for several years at this time. My daddy lived in Mooresville, NC and so did I. My mother lived in China Grove, North Carolina in an apartment on Main Street.
On this particular week, my mother had come to spend several days with me. My parents didn’t hate each other, but after the separation and divorce they didn’t socialize or talk to each other, save for the time I gave birth to my daughter. They showed respect for each other at the hospital as usual and everything went okay.
It was a Friday and I wanted to get all my housework done for the weekend. I was getting up trash and putting clothes in the washing machine. My mother was watching a soap opera, while my four and a half year old daughter Wendy was playing with her toys in the same room.
The phone rang and I answered it.
I said, ” Hello.”
It was my cousin Jane trying to tell me something, but she couldn’t get the words out.
My cousin’s wife took the phone and proceeded to tell me that my dad was dead on arrival at Lowrance Hospital around 1:30 pm. Also, that the doctor that attended him thought that he had suffered a massive heart attack.
My mother asked, ” What’s wrong? ”
I said, ” I was just told my daddy died and that he was dead on arrival at the hospital. I don’t believe it.”
I continued to do my chores and my mother recognized that I was in shock. I had just washed my waist length hair and planned to dry it naturally in the warm sun and get a start on a tan.
My mother called me to her.
She said, ” Look, you are in shock. Take this nerve pill and sit down. After the pill has had time to kick in, you are going to have to make some phone calls.”
My little girl, Wendy had wandered in to my master bathroom looking out the window at the trees. Later, I found out she was in there thinking she would never see her sweet paw paw again. He came and ate lunch with us five days a week, unless my mother was visiting. He always brought Wendy a surprise for lunch and called her his ” little monkey” and was so proud of her. He thought she was beautiful and he was proud she had his coloring, blond hair and blue eyes.
My daddy was my best friend. He called me every day and I saw him more than once a day. If he didn’t drop by in the evening, he would call and tell me he would see me the next day and always told me he loved me. My daddy was a giver to all of the ones he loved.
The pill kicked in, but in my mind I was still in denial as I made the phone calls I needed to make. I still couldn’t believe the words I was saying, it was all like a nightmare.
My daddy and my brother Don lived in my grandmother’s house, I hurriedly dialed the number to see about my brother. Don was only eighteen and a senior in high school and got out at noon everyday. Someone answered and told me that my brother was outside and that he had been told. They said he would be at my house shortly. My son was close to nine at the time and got off the bus at my grandmother’s house so that he could still attend South Elementary. Someone dropped him off at our house, but not before a mean spirited kid told him his paw paw was dead.
I had to call the work place of the one I was currently married to at the time and tell him of the news.
People started arriving at my house and bringing food in.
It was bedtime when the news hit me hard. There’s no medication that can fix loss and grief. I think I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life.
A conversation that I had had with my daddy after lunch one day came to mind.
Daddy had brought up the conversation about what I should do when something happened to him. I didn’t want to hear or have this conversation!
I said, ” If something ever happens to you, I can’t go to that funeral home. I won’t be able to bear it.”
My daddy said, ” You will have to because people will be coming to show their respect for me and for our family.”
I was in tears as we had this conversation, but didn’t dream my daddy would die anytime soon.
Right before that, Daddy had me to call his doctor’s office to see what the xrays revealed about his back. I also asked what his blood pressure was that day.The nurse said the xrays showed he had some deterioration of the spine due to age, nothing more. She stated his blood pressure was 140/90 that day. Those were good numbers for my dad that had been hospitalized due to very high hypertension.
The next evening, my daddy was at Cavin’s Funeral Home. I went early to spend time with him alone. I stood at the doorway of the room my daddy was in. Even with a sedative in my system, I felt like I would faint.
I walked up to his casket, my heart broken and hugged him and kissed his cheek. I told him how much I loved him and always would. I was wracked with emotion and tears. That night, I just couldn’t see how I could ever get through the loss of my daddy. I was not a saved Christian at this time, so I couldn’t grasp ever being able to see my daddy in heaven again
Many people came that evening to show their respect because daddy was loved and respected by many.
My daddy was handsome, I’m not just saying that because he was my daddy. In his youth, he looked like a star professional football player. He was a big guy, tall and solid. In his older years, he looked sophisticated, like a doctor or lawyer. He was always neat and if he wasn’t lounging at home, he had on a suit. At the least, he wore a dress shirt, pants and tie. He dressed to the nines and loved driving a Cadillac.
The next day, on a Sunday, our daddy’s funeral was held at the Mooresville Church of God where he was a member and where he took us on Sunday’s to worship with him.
My sister Patty, my brother Don and I grieved for our daddy. Patty had her family, I had my family, but it was my brother Don my heart went out to the most. He was only eighteen, not old enough to have a wife and children yet to be with him in his grief. And he had had our daddy the shortest time. Sorrow for my brother engulfed me, knowing he would be graduating high school in June without our dad there. This would have been one of our dad’s proudest moments.
My son Todd was sitting with his uncle Don and they held on to each other, soaked in tears.
The preacher knew my daddy well and tried to comfort us with his words. I felt in an unreachable zone, unsaved and not thinking of the afterlife, I have to admit. I did receive salvation. but it was many years down the road.
Why do the songs and the music at funerals make our sorrow even more intense?
There were several songs sung, but only three that I remember. ” I Will Meet You in the Morning” and ” I’ll Fly Away” were picked because these were traditional in my daddy’s family.
The song that brought on the most tears was.no surprise. ” I’m Going to Have a Little Talk With Jesus” hit us the hardest because Daddy sang it to us all the time…
It was a short drive from the church to Willow Valley Cemetery where our dad would be laid to rest. Daddy was in the US Army and got a twenty one gun salute. The American flag was neatly folded and given to my bother Don.
It was overwhelming as we said our last good bye to the best Dad in the world. I couldn’t see through the flood of tears and was led to the hearse with someone on either side of me, leading me by the arm.
After we arrived home, we saw people had dropped off more food. Family and friends filled my house on Logan street. Mother was still staying with me to be there for my brother and I.
As soon as my daddy died, I became sick. Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, depression and overwhelming anxiety attacks. I tried to pass it off as normal, due to loss of a loved one. It got so bad, I had to go my family physician. He tried different medications and after months, admitted I needed to see a surgeon.
Ten months later in January, I had surgery for a fistula. I had chosen Dr. Richard Martin at Rowan Memorial Hospital to do the surgery.
I was looking forward to going home soon. I had showered, washed my hair, did full makeup and chose a pretty coral gown and matching robe to wear. I was standing at the mirror with my hair flipped upside down when I heard Dr. Martin walk in.
Dr. Martin said, ” I’d like to talk to you a minute.”
I asked, ” Is everything all right? ”
He replied, ” Your biopsy report from the fistula I removed came back. You have Crohn’s disease. I will try to explain to you about what Crohn’s is. It was named after the doctor that discovered it, a German doctor of radiology named John Crohn. It is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect your colon, intestine, your complete digestive tract. Sometimes you have to have many surgeries and you may need counseling. Right now, I’d like to start you on Prednisone and Sulfasalazine tablets.”
I sat there in shock. I had never heard of Crohn’s disease! I just wanted it fixed…
I went home the next day and took my secret with me. I don’t know why I wanted to keep it a secret that I had Crohn’s disease, other than the fact we all want to be normal. It was very worrisome to me, but I didn’t tell my mother or my best friend Debra for three months.
After three months, I confessed to my mother and Debra that I had came home with a diagnosis of all the unpleasant symptoms that I had since my daddy died. Later on, I tried explaining it to my young children in a less serious manner.
After a myriad of doctors and hospitals, I came to meet my hero gastroenterologist, Dr. Frank Pancotto in the ER on a Saturday afternoon. It was called Cabarrus Hospital at that time, now it’s called CMC North East Medical Center.
I arrived at the ER in Concord, NC by ambulance, very sick with Crohn’s disease and totally paralyzed by a drug that I was given at Baptist Hospital in mega doses. At the time, I had no idea why I was paralyzed.
Dr. Pancotto explained he was sure the paralysis was from the drug I was given in mega doses at Baptist Hospital causing the paralysis. Also, I needed surgery to fix the damage the Crohn’s had done. I asked if the paralysis would go away? Dr. Pancotto said he hoped the paralysis would go away in time, but offered no promises it would.
Dr. Pancotto was the first gastroenterologist I met that could help me. Without a doubt, I know God was involved in leading me to Dr. Pancotto. One of many gifts the Lord would bestow to me in my life.
After the surgery, I went home to my mother’s one story home so she could help take care of me and my kids. A nurse came five days a week to help with my daily hygiene care and to try to teach me to walk again.
My mother and I would stay up late at night talking while she worked with me to help me build the motor skills in my hands that I had lost total use of. I give total credit to my mother for taking care of me and for getting my motor skills in my hands back. I couldn’t even spray on my own perfume or do my make-up or hair.
This all started in July and by November, praise God I could walk, slowly, but I could walk! I was determined to shed the earth shoes for stiletto’s. My make-up and hair skills got better, too.
In the spring of the next year, I started going to a women’s gym to get my strength back and I was doing great.
By June, I was having some pain and before it could cause serious damage, I had to have surgery. I had an awesome surgeon, Dr. John Crook.
Seven months later, I had a hernia and also needed a revision of the colon. I had some surgeries after that, but hadn’t had the severity of pain until seven years later. I got in a similar situation about ten months later, but it wasn’t as bad and medication corrected it.
Grieving for a loved one never goes away. The more we love them, the stronger the grief. Time does help soften the grief, still it never goes away totally. I was young at the time and didn’t have a clue the toll grief can do to you mentally and physically. I clearly see now that going through all of this, I needed salvation and counseling.
I’ve had some surgeries and different medications since the beginning of my journey with grief, loss and Crohn’s disease.
I finally married my soul mate, Chuck that loved me and accepted me, even though I have flares at times. He takes extra good care of me and spoils me everyday. I have a beautiful family and grandchildren that I adore!
My husband Chuck and I were invited by my best friend to a little country church, where our hearts were changed and where we received salvation in 2008.
God has never forsaken me and never will. The Lord is still on the throne, still in control and still the King of Kings,
Without God, I would’ve never made it, not without all of His healings, blessings and miracles!
To God be all the Glory and Praise forever and ever…