A Promise Kept (True Story)
by Kathleen Shelton
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A Promise Kept
When I heard the shrill ring of the phone, a foreboding dreadful chill swept through every fiber and nerve of my being. Intuitively, I knew that this call would somehow permanently change and alter the course of my comfortable life. Hesitantly, I picked up the receiver only to hear Sherry, my daughter fearfully cry “Mom, Grandma just called and said that she can’t wake Dad up, that he is not breathing right and isn’t responding to anything”. “I’m on my way there now”, I replied with an ironical calmness that belied the emotions and thoughts that swirled in union through me. As I drove to James’ mothers’ house, my mind took me back to a sunny day at a park two years ago while at a grandsons birthday party. James (my ex-husband) and I were talking when he blurted out from no where “Kat, if anything should happen, would you take care of me?” Carelessly and casually, I replied “sure James”. “No, Kathleen”, he seriously injected, “Promise me that if anything should happen and I can’t take care of myself, that you will not let me be placed in a nursing home, that you will take care of me.” Without thinking or even believing that I would be called upon to fulfill my words, I simply looked at James and said, “I promise”. Every instinct within me now wailed that it was now time for me to live up to my laid-back and thoughtless promise.
When I reached James’ mothers’ house, I rushed into his bedroom, only to find him curled tightly in a fetal position, sheathed with the stench of his own urine, pallid, lips blue, his breathing so shallow, it was barely detectable. Even though I knew that he could not respond, I still spoke to him. “James, if you can, answer me, shows me something”. Hi eyelids barely fluttered. “Is he dead?” his mother called from the other room. “No, he’s in a coma, call 911” I answered. However, it was Sherry who called. Somewhere, strength and lightening speed took over, and somehow, before the ambulance arrived, I had James cleaned up, clean under shorts on him and clean bedding under him. I was determined that he would go to the hospital with his dignity intact. (Later he would surprise me by informing me that he knew I had done this and thanked me for doing so.)
James was admitted in critical condition and put on life support. At the hospital a family meeting was taking place, and I was so angry and upset, I was gritting my teeth. I found that I would have to do this quite often. Since James and I had been divorced for 19 years, I was not a part of the family, had no say and felt as if my hands were tied. Everyone knew of James’ wishes and yet it appeared as if they were being ignored. Funeral arrangements were also being discussed along with a nursing home if he should survive. Suddenly Yahwehs’ Holy Spirit sprung forth and I heard my voice say, “He will not die, he will heal, only better than what he has been in the last years and this is a blessing in disguise.” Everyone looked at me as if I was the one that had lost my mind. Still the talk went back to if he survived, what would happen to him and his care. I reminded the family of my promise, but, only one stood by my side, and that was Sherry. Everyone else believed that he should be placed in a nursing home, some because they did not believe that I was capable of taking care of him and others because they thought they knew better than I did what was good for my well-being. All I could do was silently pray to Yah that whatever it may be, His Will be done. Later Patti (my other daughter) and I talked, and I told her, that if the doctor should state that James could not come home to me and had to be released to a nursing home, then I would be comfortable with that decision, otherwise, I felt bound by my promise.
I spent most of my time while not at work at the hospital with James. I would speak to him of Yahweh and the greatness of his mercy and of Christ. I bought an angel wind chime and hung in his room, telling him that Gods angels were watching over him and that every time he heard that chime, it meant that the angels were there. Somehow, many times, the chime chimed without anyone touching it or it being moved.
I received a call at work one day, the doctor wanted to remove the life support, and mydaughters had contacted my son (James-who is in prison) who stated that if he was there, he would pull the plugs himself. “Don’t do it”’ I gasped, “Your dad will wake up today”. Two hours later, I received the call that James indeed had awaken. Two days later, he was breathing on his own and taken completely off all machines.
The doctor did indeed inform the family that James would only deteriorate and die, that he needed the care that only a nursing home could provide, and she would only release him to a nursing home. Have you ever noticed thought that if Yahweh has a plan, that no one or nothing can thwart His plan? As luck would have it, not a single nursing home in Oklahoma City had an opening and even though they waited, still no opening came. Then, I received a phone call, “Mom, they are releasing dad today, can you go get him?” So after work that day, I went and got James. Sam, my son-in-law (who seems to think-or at least it appears to me that he does-that I am ignorant and for a lack of a better word-stupid and inept) remarked to me that I had two months, and then if there was no improvement, James would go to a nursing home. (Sam and Patti have power of attorney over James-I felt then that he was shoving this fact down my throat, that I had no say in the matter and would have to abide by his rules). Calmly, I remarked that I had that time to prove everyone wrong.
Getting him home was a comedy in itself for one that has a warped sense of humor. First of all, we had to figure out how to dress him. Then get him into the wheelchair. James at this time was unable to even sit up by him. We tied him into the chair. I have a small car-a very small car. It is a 1992 Pontiac Sunbird. Get the picture? So it took two nurses and me an hour just to get him transferred to my car. Great, he’s in –now how do I get him out? I ended up getting one of my brothers and another guy to help unload James and get him into my apartment. Finally in there, the tension broke with laughter. My brother in an attempt to get James into the bed fell backwards and James landed on top of him. My brother looked up with a devilish grin and said “James, I don’t think we are supposed to be like this.”
After James was placed in bed, the absolute enormity of what I was facing rampaged through my mind. I cried. I cried for James, I cried for me. At that point, selfishly, it was more for myself than what it was for him. He was a total paraplegic, unable drink alone, let alone, feed himself, often choking on the food or liquids. He was unable to control his bladder or bowels, so was in diapers and on top of that, his mind had gone, and even though he was not in dts, his mind acted as if it was, and he screamed 24 hours a day, constantly, existing in a living nightmare. He never slept. His brain no longer registered hunger, thirst or sleep. I did the only thing I knew to do, I prayed. I prayed over him, for him, and for me. I prayed for strength, patience and knowledge. And Yahweh answered. He gave me the instinctive ability to do what needed to be done when ever an occasion arose. He gave me strength when I was weakened and frayed. And H e gave me patience and peace, the ability to remain calm regardless of what was transpiring. My days started with me force feeding James, sometimes taking up to an hour to get food down him, giving him a bed bath, changing his diapers, clothes and the bedding, then, I had to get ready for work. Home care had to be brought in so that I could continue to work. When I came home from work, it was the same over again. However, I was determined he would not lie in bed and die. Yah enabled all 110 pounds of me with muscle to be able to lift James from the bed and carry him to the recliner. So when I was home, I would dress him in boxers over his diaper and a t-shirt and tie him in the recliner.
Things progressively worsened. My days and nights blurred together and in a sense, I even lost total contact with reality. I just moved, acted and reacted. I cried and I prayed. Finally, one night, in exasperation and tiredness, my anger welled up and I yelled at Yahweh. “If You want me to do this, then help me! If You are going to heal him, do so.” (I am not one that silently stews and docilely say “your will be done”. I know that Yahweh knows what is in my heart and to do so, in my opinion, would only be lying to Him. So I talk to Him as I would a person I can physically see and even confront Him with my feelings.) The next day, James was worse. Now he was running a fever, congested and coughing up large amounts of phlegm. Pneumonia had set in. My ex-sister in law is a RN, so I called her to come over and check on James. Soon, my two daughters and James’ brother, Richard and sister in law Gayle were there. Sure enough, Gayle thought the same and so they decided to take James back to the hospital. Sad as it may sound, I didn’t go. I was so tired, physically, mentally and emotionally, that I decided to stay home and get sleep. I really thought that the hospital would give him a prescription and just send him home. Wrong. Again, Yahweh stepped in and intervened. Once they arrived at the hospital, James fever and all his symptoms disappeared. However, there was a doctor who was working the emergency room that afternoon who turned out to be Yahs’ tool for James on his road to recovery. This doctor was not even supposed to be working that day, and had only shortly been called in. He took one look at James and was able to give a diagnosis of what was wrong. Even though, he had never seen a case of this before, he had studied on it: wernickes korsakoff. It was brought on because of James’ alcoholism and the years he had drank. It is rare because usually the alcohol will destroy the liver first and the person dies from psoriases. Now, there was a name attached to his illness, and treatment available. James case appeared to be acute, with his chances of recovery being slim, but, as I just stated, it appeared. Again, the doctors recommended long care treatment in a nursing home, yet, again, James ended up coming home with me. I was at work when James was released, so Gayle picked him up for me. Before she arrived at my house, I was home, and Richard was there to meet her when she got there. We talked, and I again stated that this was a blessing in disguise, a new chance for James to now experience the life that had been robbed from him by the alcohol. Richards’ response chilled and stunned me. “Maybe it is a ploy from Satan to cause discord in the family.” Silently, I rebuked his words.
Today, I watched James as he played with three of our grandchildren. I watched as he laughed at and with them. I saw him actually enjoy himself with them. And them with him. No fear of their grandfather suddenly becoming angry or violent, just enjoyment. And I smiled.
James is now able to do everything now except for walking and I praise Yahweh every day for the rapid and startling improvement in him. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that James will one day recognize where his healing came from and come to know and accept Yahshua as his Savior. I also know that he will use this miracle to glorify Yahweh and be an instrument in helping other alcoholics and even deter others from drinking. His mind is even better than what it was two or three years ago, he is alert and aware of what is happening and has happened. He feeds himself, drinks unaided from a cup or glass, dresses himself, and even gets back and forth from the restroom by himself. Even though not walking yet, he is crawling on his hands and knees, getting himself in and out of the bed, chair, couch or wherever. Whenever we go anywhere, he transfers himself to and from his wheelchair from the car. The only lifting I now have to do is to put him on the shower chair. A few days ago, he pulled himself up on his knees, grasped my neck and pulled himself to an upright standing position. I still have a caretaker for him, but am able to leave him for short periods of time alone. On his last doctor appointment, the doctor and nurses did not recognize him, he has changed so much. Dr. Browns’ comment to me was simple and to the point. “At first, I thought you were crazy for taking him home, but not now.” My response? Laughter. “Don’t worry, so did everyone else, including myself, but I had a promise to keep.”
Many people attempt to glorify me for what has happened, but, I know the glory and credit goes to Yahweh Himself, and to Yahshua, Christ who bore our sins on the tree. Through His stripes we were healed. This includes my healing as well. When my son was six years old, James kidnapped him while I was out Christmas shopping and it was seven years before I saw my son again. I carried so much anger and bitterness over this and would tell everyone that I could forgive James for everything except taking my son. But do you know what happens when you spend day after day taking care of someone, praying for that person and over that person? Anger and bitterness cannot remain. In the end, it was I who received the healing I needed. All because of a promise kept.
Kathleen Ann Shelton
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Finally! I've met someone who can testify to the healing our Lord can grant to the deepest recesses of your heart! When my son moved in with my ex-husband, it was though someone had ripped my heart from my chest and left the wound raw and exposed. Hallelujah... He can heal what man cannot! And you've testified to that. Thank you so much for sharing!
Isn't God amazing. There are times when I think that I would never be as willing as you, but when I talk to Jesus, the Spirit of Christ comes and it is not me but Him that does miraculous things, I just provide a willing body and mind. God must be well pleased with you and I pray that things go continue in the path of healing for James and you. I know that when God uses me, it is usually me that gets the most healing.