Tuesday, November 10, 2009

December 23, 1996

With the holidays approaching my heart is drawn to this day in particular. This is a journal related memory. DISCLAIMER: It was a really long day...

I opened my eyes and looked out the window. The earth was blanketed in white from the freshly fallen snow. I was instantly excited. School was out and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Christmas vacation than sledding. I was lucky to live on Frost Lane. One of the best sledding hills in town. There was just enough slope at the top that with the right push off a person could coast all the way to the bottom of the road. (which was really long).

I jumped out of bed and without bothering with breakfast or brushing my teeth I bundled up and headed out the door. Much to my delight my dad had thought ahead. He knew me so well. He had gotten the sled down from the rafters in the garage before leaving for work. My sisters and friends gathered at the top of Frost Lane. We spent the entire day sledding. We built ramps, and jumps, and all manner of entertaining and dangerous things like that. When we were waiting our turn we would make snow angels and have snowball fights. It was so fun.

The sun was setting and we knew our moms would be calling us for dinner. We decided to call it a day. The road was a sheet of ice. It was so slippery I remember sliding to my house in my snow boots. We got home and ate dinner. I was SUPER excited because we were going to deliver some Christmas gifts to our neighbors as soon as Dad got home from work. We had worked so hard on the gifts. We made blankets for every member of their family. I couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces. Dad got home and said he wasn't feeling so well. He decided that he would come with us to deliver the blankets. The neighbors LOVED their gifts. We went home with happy hearts.

As soon as we got back home my dad collapsed onto the couch. He was gasping for breath and clutching his chest. It took only one moment for me to understand that something was very wrong. I remember my mom calling 911. "911, do you have an emergency?" ~ "Yes this is Doodie Johnson. My husband is having a heart attack. We need an ambulance. Please hurry." At the words "HEART ATTACH" my own heart skipped a beat. Dad had a heart attack a few years back. They did some artery excavation and told him he needed to watch his diet. I specifically remember the doctor saying, "You need to be very careful Verl, your heart won't survive another one like that." My 12 year heart sank. I looked into my daddy's colorless face and the gravity of the situation sank in.

My uncles gave my dad a blessing and I remember them saying "Thy will be done." I had never heard that in a blessing before. It was always things like, "We bless you with strength, or we bless that you will be made whole." After the blessing it was time to go to the hospital.

The ambulance was there in minutes. The house was buzzing with activity. There were so many people. My aunt Lolly stayed with us while my mom rode in the ambulance. I remember kissing his forehead and saying, "Bye daddy, I love you." He was in too much pain to respond, but I looked into his eyes and I saw that he loved me too.

The ambulance didn't fare so well on the trip back up Frost Lane. That little bit of a hill that was slick as an ice skating rink and perfect for sledding, was not so perfect for driving. I watched the flashing lights out my kitchen window for over an hour. The stress finally got to be too much for me. I felt so guilty. It was my fault that the road was slick. Finally the Ambulance got onto the main road. The nearest hospital was over an hour away.

We were sitting at home waiting for news. Aunt Lolly did a great job of distracting us. We played games, watched movies, and were having a great time really. About midnight the phone rang. Aunt Lolly answered it and talked for just a moment. She wouldn't tell us anything except that my mom was on her way home and she would update us when she got there.

Mom arrived home with wet, red puffy eyes. It only took one glance and we were all up to date. Daddy was gone. We hugged and cried and not much was said. My mom was exhausted and we were sent off to bed. We were all just lying there sobbing. My uncle Shane came over and got us out of bed. He gave everyone a blessing. We were able to get some sleep. When I awoke on Christmas eve the feeling was surreal. I wanted it all to be a bad dream, but I knew that it was all too real.

My Daddy was gone. I didn't quite know how to go on. Life around me seemed to move in slow motion. Every interaction was forced and unnatural. Slowly the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months, and of course melted into years. Nothing really HEALS, time dulls the ache, but with every passing year I can't help but wish that I had my daddy here to see me get married. To hold my babies, and rub his whiskers on their toes. I have felt his presence, and I know he watches over me.

With Christmas waiting just around the bend I cannot help but have feelings of my dad. I miss him alot. I know with all my heart that I will see him again. And I know that everything happens for a reason. We must take the tests and trials of life and use them to make ourselves more Christ like. I feel like I grew up alot that Christmas. I learned which things in life really matter. I learned that I am so grateful for Jesus Christ.

13 comments:

Brian and Hillary said...

That was so touching. It brought tears to my eyes. I almost lost my dad a couple of years ago around Mother's Day. I love reading things you write there is just something about the way you put it all together. That was great. Sorry that I never got to meet him. He sounds like a wonderful man.

Hillary

Woodstock Family said...

What a touching story! Thank you for sharing with all of us.......what an inspiring way to start the day and put life in perspective.

Hopie said...

Uhggggg.....

Lorene Briscoe said...

You little turd make me cry--I miss him a lot and every Christmas I get sad because he is gone. Then he comes to me in a dream and tells me he loves me and then I can move on. I was mad at him for dying, because it was my senior year that he passed away and he always told me get honors and I will go to the dinner with you. He didn't quite make it and I did it all for him. Not for me. I think he might have been there. He was at my wedding though. I know this for sure. He also lives on in each of our hearts.

Melissa said...

That was so touching, I had tears. I remember coming to your house soon after this, but I don't remember little ole you. I too am sorry that I didn't get to know him. You are so strong, I LOVE reading your blog!

Doty Family said...

Oh my goodness! Tears are pooring down my face. What a touching story to share. My dad died when I was 9 from a heart attack. I didn't even know Lynette! Thank heavens we know that families can be eternal.

Doty Family said...

Oh my goodness! Tears are pooring down my face. What a touching story to share. My dad died when I was 9 from a heart attack. I didn't even know Lynette! Thank heavens we know that families can be eternal.

Ashley said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It is an amazing blessing that our families are eternal families. I'm sure this time of year can be difficult for you. You are an amazing person and I love you!

Cindy L. said...

Lynette, I'm sobbing. I did not know you lost your Dad...especially so young, and at Christmas. What a well written memory. You are a fantastic writer. I too am thankful for Jesus Christ, and to know that we can be with our loved ones again. I loved this post. Thanks for sharing yourself and your story. I really just love you.

bodoba said...

What a hard thing to have to deal with at such a young age. Our lives are full of hardships but losing a parent is one of the worst. You know he loves you and he knew you love him. Coming from one whose father doesn't love her, this is something you should cherish as I'm sure you do. {HUGS}

Brittney said...

awww so sad. You are an awesome person. Thanks for the reminder to cherish those we love.

Melissa said...

I cried reading that. I didn't know that about you or your past. It was very well written and touching. What a hard reality! Thanks for sharing that and your testimony. Wow.

Brian and Hillary said...

It wasn't Shane that gave the blessings it was me (Brian) and Connies ex husband Mike Maloney. I brought mom home from the hospital as I was on my way back from Salina with J.H. Then mom stayed up all night calling everybody she knew to tell them. I left on my mission a month later. Its been 16 years today. It was the same day I got into a head on collision with J.H. in the logging trucks. My last day logging.