Only recently had the nudging of my inner spirit rousted me to make time to get back to writing again. Writing the stories of events here, or realizations about the life I live here, has always been my outlet to peacefully let go of ponderings – maybe things I cannot explain, or perhaps something new I have discovered, and sometimes just happenings that surprised me or added to a pocketful of life’s learning. The writing pad of my life on this little piece of land has been something to look back and reflect on… of how my crazy path in life leveled out here and how nature became the greatest teacher for me. I finally found “good ground” to tread on.
Last year in October, Forrest and I had discussed that the year 2022 would mean me making more trips to Nebraska to help my siblings in the care of our mother. Mom had gotten to the point where she couldn’t keep up with her property and home, and her health had been suffering – so much to the point where we invited hospice in to help with her care. There had been numerous trips with her to the ER the last months, and finally mom had decided she was done with that. She wanted to leave this life on her own terms. My siblings all work outside of their homes, so I felt this was my opportunity to help where I could.
My first two weeks with Mom late in January were filled with constant care and some important conversation. At times, she was so miserable we prayed for her body to let go. And oddly, towards the end of the month, she seemed to improve greatly, and let me know she didn’t need me around anymore. So I left. And, unfortunately, on that trip back home I acquired the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Three days after arriving home, I became sick with Forrest having to care for me and, four days following that, we were caring for each other. It wasn’t the worst we had ever felt, and we both agreed a flu bug we had back in 2011 was a far worse experience. Fatigue was the worst symptom, and we could barely manage chores around here. For most of February into March, we did the best we could to keep up with work on this place, but we also had to let a lot go while we recouped.
In February, we placed mom in a nice assisted living home. While my sisters got mom settled there, I was making plans to head north to help out – mostly to stay at Mom’s house and start sorting through belongings and get the house ready to sell. This wasn’t the first time I had helped with such a project. I am great at organizing and literal cleaning. All of us kids went through items that I managed to sort through, and we were able to utilize many of her belongings. There were beautiful paintings that our great-grandmother had painted, old costume jewelry, vintage clothing, delicate linens with hand-made lace, stunning quilts that grandma designed and stitched, and fancy glass items collected by our grandparents and great-grandparents. It was fun for me. Everyone pitched in on days off, and we managed to sort through and divide what we wanted, donate a good bit, and also had a display of “free” items in the front yard. It was always a surprise to get up in the mornings to see what had disappeared in the night. And each morning I found myself enjoying making coffee in Mom’s Mr. Coffee machine, then stand outside in the cold where I had a cell signal, and watch the sun come up on the tiny Danish village while talking with one of my sisters or my brother. I enjoyed three weeks of helping out and being with my siblings.
The week I came home to Oklahoma in early April, I was a bit overwhelmed by all that presented itself to do. But that first week home, I wanted to enjoy Forrest, and Oscar and Lollipop, and the deer. Putting off work here one more week wasn’t going to hurt anything. Spring had unfolded while I was up north and I had missed the early blossoms on fruit trees and tree leaves were all bursting from buds. Wildlife was busy eating from the new shoots and nibbling greens sprouting from the ground. Forrest had already mowed some in my absence.
Easter Sunday I fixed a good breakfast, and we decided to head out to the west end of the property and trim ice damaged trees from two years prior. I started trimming with the chainsaw and Forrest went to fetch seat cushions from two tree stands that I often used for wildlife photography. Squirrels tended to chew up any fabric this time of the year for nesting material. So we remove the seats in early spring. I don’t know how long I had worked at trimming trees and throwing the branches over the drop-off into the river bottom, but it was then I spotted our Kawasaki Mule, and just beyond lay Forrest on the ground, motionless. From my guess, he had fallen about thirty feet down, and somehow the deer stand had fallen too.
I ran down to the bottom, quickly noting there was nothing I could do but call for help. Forrest was breathing – rather rasping deeply through his mouth, and his eyes were open and wild-looking. I dialed 911, and the city EMT’s arrived quickly at the entrance to our home from the street. I hauled them to the scene in the Mule since we were working in a remote area of the woods and there was no path for them to follow in an ambulance. The mediflight helicopter even had difficulty locating us, but they were timely and those fellas knew what they were doing landing in a small wheat field in the river bottom – quickly assessing Forrest’s condition and readying him for flight. I have no idea about the time it all took. After the helicopter took off and the EMT’s came back to put their equipment away, I gathered my own tools and picked up a few items at the scene of the fall and headed up to the house. Family drove me to Oklahoma City to OU Medical Center. On meeting with the trauma ER doctors I learned that despite 17 broken ribs, a broken clavical, fractured C-7 and numerous small fractures to the spine and face, along with two punctured lungs and a few small vascular brain bleeds that would heal on their own, no surgeries would be needed. Although a month later a dislocated bone in the wrist would be discovered which did need surgery.
For one week, Forrest was in Trauma ICU, then another week in the trauma wing of OU Medical Center. From there he spent three weeks in Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation. All but two days I either drove an hour from Anadarko, or stayed with friends in Norman (closer to the medical facilities) in order to be with Forrest each day. We brought him home on May 19th, and began home physical therapy with a talented therapist here in town. Our nephew’s wife is a retired LVN, and she has been helping with in-home therapy twice a day.
Forrest improves each day. My role as caretaker has been eye-opening and I find myself making many more decisions on my own that Forrest used to take care of. Our water well has begun to cave. I’m on a waiting list to have a new one drilled, but for now the well/pump guys have helped me find a temporary solution to all of the sand/dirt coming into the house water system. My brother-in-law and nephew moved my washing machine to the rock house so I get clean city water to launder clothes. Friends from Forrest’s workplace have come to do the monumental mowing on this place. Other friends have come by to offer to work, and if nothing else just to visit a bit. Most people are upbeat and encouraging. The kindness of people has been humbling. I’ve always been too proud to ask for help, yet I have had to accept it and even ask for help when I have gotten overwhelmed.
And, my realizations about many things I must change in the way we live, and understanding I need to let go of disappointment, has surprised me a bit. It’s been difficult, but I am letting go of so much work here. I find the hours I now spend creating healthy meals for us (helping Forrest put weight back on – he is down thirty-one pounds since the fall) and assisting him with needs throughout the day, are the best moments of my life. It’s been difficult and physically taxing work, but we see improvement and find thankfulness in every day. I’ve been able to look past family members and people in the community that chose to make this accident and recovery about them – their suffering and hardship or perhaps connection to the accident – and go off with all sorts of stories and drama. Forrest reminded me yesterday that those actions are similar to those of the “rocky soil and thorny areas” in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Luke 8:11). Funny, I used to be on rocky soil and I was the thorns of the parable – and I did not realize it. I was that person who wasn’t yet ready for the message. When sowing seed and “falling” on good ground, our words flourish and offer grace and healing.
Life has changed for us, and it is not a tragedy. It is an eye-opener. And we are rolling with the changes together and thankful for all of the good happening all around. Already, Mother Nature has surrounded us and included us in her God-given fold of healing and miracles… lots of birth and new life unfolding in our midst.
© 2022 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…