Unexpected Therapy and Unforgettable Memories

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Sitting by the bedside of the one you love is perhaps the hardest thing you’ll ever do. You’re worried — they’re worried. There’s so much stress from not knowing what will happen. It’s hard to keep your own spirits up and even harder to know what to say to keep your mom or dad from worrying even more. Remarkable moments can come from these terrible times. I’ve been there.

Both my parents had life threatening illnesses. My dad lost his bladder to cancer; my mom was paralyzed from the neck down. Believe it or not, some of my most cherished memories were made during these times.

Mama’s Story

My mother walked into the hospital and spent the night in a regular room. The next evening when I went to see her after work, she was in ICU. I walked to her room but I couldn’t see her. My daddy was standing in front of the bed. As I got closer, he stopped me and said, “Angel, prepare yourself. She’s much worse.”

He stepped away from the bed and I looked down to see my mother on a respirator and all kinds of tubes coming out of her. She opened her eyes and I can only guess what she was feeling — probably fear mixed with disbelief. She couldn’t talk with the tube down her throat but when she saw me she mouthed, “It’s not so bad.”

I broke down in tears, but fought them back. How could she say that? How bad could it get? In the grip of Guillain-Barre, my mother kept her positive spirit. It is perhaps the bravest thing I’ve ever witnessed. How could I have come from this pillar of strength?

The days and weeks that followed were difficult, but two weeks in, my mother began to improve. The doctors were amazed as well as all the family. The hospital staff and doctors tried to get her to take a wheelchair when she was discharged — she refused.

Her Therapy

Back home my mother was still so very weak. She could only sit in a chair or walk with some help. The therapy she received came from my four month old grandson, Michael. He and his parents were living in the apartment above my mother’s place and every day my daughter-in-law would bring him down for a visit. That baby was perhaps the best therapy my mother could have gotten.

At first she needed help holding him, but soon she could do it by herself. It built up the strength in her arms and back. After a month of just laying in a bed, she needed that. Soon she was walking by herself and she began to get back her old strength. What joy it gave me when she could hold Michael and even swing him around and dance to Marty Robbin’s cowboy songs.


I am so thankful that my mother recovered from that ordeal. The doctors were wonderful and of course I know that it was God that pulled her through. I also know that he used a little baby to get my mama back on her feet. I was a witness to the strength of faith she kept through it all and the joy she found in just holding a sweet little child.

No Way to Prepare

There is not a single way any of us can prepare for a medical emergency. What we can do is stay as positive as possible and lean on our loved ones throughout the ordeal. Reaching out to those who care can strengthen us and help us through all of life’s trials. We also can never forget to include the children. There’s just something in their innocence that heals the body and the soul.

The Second Best Thing

Not all of us have young people in our lives, or children who live close enough to be helpful in troubled times, but all of us can have pets. I’ve seen the healing that comes when older people have a pet to take care of. They may not have the will to help themselves, but they’ll do it for a sweet little dog or cat. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are now allowing pets in their facilities. It’s because everyone does better when they’re around.

(This article was reviewed April, 2024 since it originally published October, 2016.)

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