This is part 3 of a six part series on one family’s conversion to the Orthodoxy Faith.
Vera decided to stay home. We have three cats and two dogs. Someone had to see to their needs. Vera told me later that she kept praying this part of The Trisagion Prayers: O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who are in all places and fill all things, the treasury of good things and the giver of life: Come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One.” ( These prayers are part of a group of prayers that Orthodox Christians pray each morning and evening.) I had driven to the emergency room by myself. It was hard to see Jim shout out strange and confusing things. He would ask the same question over and over.
My oldest daughter, Sandy, came as soon as she could to be with me. Later, my son Ben arrived. Maria, my other daughter lives about 18 miles out of town. She took it upon herself to inform friends and relatives around the country.
Vera took on the job of posting friends through email all night long about Jim’s condition. I had fallen out of Sandy’s SUV and rolled hard on to her carport. The pain in one of my hips was awful but I knew I had to make it to Vanderbilt. So off we went as fast as we could. I was full of adrenalin not fear. I couldn’t give into fear. I knew I had to be strong for my family. When we got to the trauma floor, my brother Brad and his wife Susan were waiting for us. The doctor called us back. He gave me a blow by blow account of what had happened to Jim. Jim’s aorta had split right up near his jugular vein.
He told me Jim had a 40% chance of dying.
We were allowed to visit Jim for a few minutes. However, he was talking out of his head. Sandy and Ben were crying. I made the sign of the cross over Jim and we all left. Thus, we started the long all night vigil of waiting to hear how Jim was doing. My hip hurt terribly. My sister -in-law came me some medicine. It didn’t even touch the pain. Everyone else walked all around but I couldn’t move. Off and on during the night, a nurse would call to tell me Jim was still alive. In my heart, I knew he would live.
Finally, around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, they called to tell us that Jim had survived and would be in intensive care for many days.
We went in to see him. It was a pitiful sight. He was hooked up to so many machines. Our children just cried. I just prayed over him. We decided that there was nothing we could do for Jim that day so we came back home. I needed the sleep to get ready to take care of business matters for Jim.
Thank goodness he had almost three weeks of vacation that he had never used. I had to go by his work and get the papers started for his disability pay and then take them to our family doctor to fill out. We made a quick stop in the country to see Maria and headed back to Vanderbilt. Brad and Sandy offered to let me stay in their beautiful home on the outskirts of Nashville. That began about ten more days at Vanderbilt.
Brad and Sandy have a home with about 5 acres of woods surrounding them. When I looked out my bedroom windows, I could see nothing but the beautiful woods. Each morning Brad would have coffee made and an assortment of cereals to choose from. Brad would take me on the back roads to and from Vanderbilt each day. We had a chance to catch up on our news with each other. Each evening Brad and Susan cooked me a lovely meal. I would usually go straight to bed. I read my Bible and had my prayers and fell right to sleep. I felt so incredibly comforted with the peace of God.
From 7:00 a.m. to about 5:0o p.m. , I stayed with Jim. He really didn’t wake up until Tuesday. The children took turns visiting with them. Jim made no sense in anything he said. It took another 24 hours before he seemed to understand what had happened to him. Moreover, that was the day that Fr Gordon Walker came to visit with him. By Thursday, Jim was able to be moved to the regular cardiac floor. His body was so swollen, especially his hands. He started physical therapy which went extremely slow. Again, on Friday Fr. Gordon came back to see us. This time , he annointed Jim with oil.
I occupied myself with prayers, Bible reading and finishing a series of books I had started back in September. My hip still hurt me terribly. When Sandy and her girlfriend came back to visit us, it was really hard just walking around Vanderbilt with them. Vera finally got a chance to visit her daddy. She had worked so hard maintaining our household. I was so thankful that she was still living at home. Marie and Ben got a chance to come visit also.
Jim was able to pray and read the Bible with me the last few days we were at Vanderbilt. We had our prayer times after he ate his breakfast and before I left in the evening. He was fully alert and told everyone that he now had some time to study Orthodoxy. Everything about his mind was clear and sharp. The doctor later told me that he thought if Jim lived he would have the mental capacity of a child. What a miracle! Oh, I forgot to tell you that Jim had 14 units of blood during his surgery.
It was a beautiful fall morning when Brad came to drive us home. We had learned a great deal about nutrition at Vanderbilt so when we stopped at McDonalds , we all ordered grilled chicken. We ate our lunch on our front porch, rejoicing at all the miracles that God had done for our family. We had a long road ahead of us but we were excited that we could continue our journey toward becoming catechumens.
Vera was packed and ready to move to Murfreesboro the very Saturday after we got home. She could hardly wait to visit St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church. We knew we would be home bound for awhile.
Tomorrow I will tell you about Vera’s experiences at St Elizabeth and how we eventually found our way there, also.
Part Four will be published tomorrow