Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Way Back When-sday: 1978


The night air was cold, humid. It was going to be perfect duck hunting weather. My dad, 40 at the time, my little brother, 9, and a black Labrador named Sugar were heading down the bayou in the bass boat at 8:30 pm on November the 10th, 1978 - heading for the hunting camp. My older brother and uncles were to meet them early the next morning. My dad had been complaining to my brother that evening about a headache. It must have been a bad one, because Daddy rarely complained of pain. Suddenly, in the middle of the bayou, Dad convulsed, vomited, collapsed. He said to David that he was having a stroke...Dave didn't know what that meant - but he knew it was bad. Dad stirred, tried to move, slumped his entire upper body over the side of the boat, headfirst into the water. Dave pulled him out. laid him back down in the boat...and waited.

From 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM they floated...surrounded by nutria rats and alligators. Dave called out for help (there were no cell phones). He cried out in the night to anyone who might hear. Only the lonely cry of geese overhead was heard in return. He tried to keep the swarms of mosquitoes off Daddy. He was glad to see Dad breathing, but he didn't know how long he would...

At 6:00 AM on Saturday morning, November 11th, the phone rings, waking me out of a deep sleep. It was the Fall of my senior year in High School. It's my uncle on the line, "your Dad's had an accident" he said. "He's been taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston - come as soon as you can". My Mom and I drove down there in tears, praying.

It was a massive cerebral hemorrhage - that's what the doctors told us. They told my Mom to gather the family - Daddy wasn't going to make it through the night...

Well, he did make it...one night, then a week, then a month, then a year...and he is still with us 30 years later this month... I can hardly believe it has been that long...

Daddy would never return to his job as a programmer at NASA. He had to learn everything over again - how to talk, walk, eat, read, everything... Here's his badge photo from the late 60s when he began his career at NASA - he was brilliant...

Yet, lurking in his brain was, we later found out, a birth defect - a tangled mass of veins that grew larger and larger. A time bomb they said. I love this photo of my Dad goofing off when he and Mom were dating. The image was a bit of foreshadowing it seems...

Months and months of experimental procedures ensued through the end of 1978 an on into 1979 - this was uncharted territory - no one survives this - how do we treat it? Traction, steel pellets inserted in the brain to shrink the mass, endless tests, some improvement...

Finally, 14 hours of brain surgery were required to remove the mass. The chief neurosurgeon was just 28 years old...but he too was brilliant. And God's hand was on him - no doubt. 2 weeks later, with his shaved head and big smile, my Dad attended my High School graduation ceremony. It was a miracle in every way...

Though never able to return to programming, Daddy eventually worked again. My Mom had gotten a job with some family friends who had begun a business creating Christian giftware and selling wholesale to Christian bookstores. Dad tagged along with her and took out the trash - cleaned up - anything to feel productive. He ended up as the production supervisor there for 5 years. By this time, my older brother, his new wife, and I all worked there as well. I was the product designer. I love this sweet, funny photo of Daddy and me in my office at Christian Enterprises during those years. He was snoozing, but even so, he was behind me...supporting me...praying for me...proud of me...

He always has been...he still is...

So, on this, the eve of Thanksgiving 2008, I want to say Thank You to my heavenly Father for giving me my earthly father - and for giving him back to all of us 30 years ago when we were sure he was gone. I don't know why he stayed with us and others with similar medical issues don't make it... I guess at 70, Daddy still has things yet to do...

In future posts, I will share photos of some of the awesome birdhouses and other woodworking projects my Dad makes now. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will be launching a website where he and my Mom can sell his creations. I'll definitely keep you posted...

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday. Give your loves ones and extra hug and tell them you love them - this life is so fragile... I know I have someone to give an extra big hug to - thank you Lord for my Daddy...


"Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me."
(Micah 7:7,8)


  1. What a miraculous blessing! You have so much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving Becky:>)

  2. Anonymous2:41 PM

    What an amazing story & what a blessing!

  3. Wonderful story! Hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!
    Many Blessings,

  4. Anonymous5:38 PM

    *So* glad you posted the whole story... I well remember back in Home Ec class in Nov '78 when we heard the news.

    Your Dad is such a blessing as well as an incredible testimony :)

    Love you and Happy Turkey Day~!

  5. Oh, Becky. What a beautiful and powerful story. Thank you for sharing. I teared up as I read it. Blessings on you and your family this Thanksgiving!

  6. A truly amazing story. What strength he and your entire family had/have! A blessed Thanksgiving to you all.

  7. Anonymous6:16 PM

    Oh, Becky, what an amazing story of courage and strength and the will to live. So many blessings and miracles!
    God bless your Dad and your family!
    I lost my Dad - Mom was 2 months pregnant with me when he died - and he's my hero anyway. I know how you must feel.

  8. This was really precious...especially since we lost our brother on Monday evening..his birthday as well...to brain cancer..he was 44...but God knows what HE is doing and I am resting in that, right now..
    God is always good.

  9. What a story, Becky. I can see God's hand on it for sure. What a blessing to still have your dad. I would love to know when their site is up.


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