Seven years ago, I was still lapsing in and out of consciousness in the trauma unit of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital when several friends, acquaintances and some people Amy had never met dropped in to visit us on Thanksgiving, 2012.
That outpouring of support is one of the reasons I give thanks on this holiday and on the 364 other days of each year.
I finally regained full consciousness on Dec. 5, 26 days after the Nov. 9 accident that tore the right side of my face to shreds, broke most of my facial bones, dislodged by right eye, broke and pulverized several bones in my right leg and suffered MBT (Massive Brain Trauma).
Doctors told Amy I probably wouldn’t live through the first night. When I did live, they predicted I would wake up no knowing her with the mental capacity of a two-year old and had little chance of walking again if I did survive the other injuries.
Cards and get-well messages arrived by mail, phone, email and social media. A former classmate left money every time he visited and refused Amy’s effort to return such gifts. Churches added me to their prayer lists. Groups playing at the Friday Night Jamboree opened their sets with prayers for recovery.
Singer Kari Kovick dedicated the song “You’re a lucky one” to my recovery when she sang it at various venues. Bernie Coveney, Andrea Marshall and Michael Kovick came to the hospital to play music in my room and their performances brought a crowd of nurses, doctors and patients to listen. Mac & Jenny Traynham welcomed me when I resumed shooting photos and videos of area music and dedicated a set to my recovery.
I doubt I have ever adequately thanked those whose support helped me through the period that followed a motorcycle crash on Nov. 9 of that year. Surviving that crash beat the odds on that night and every day that I am walking and functioning is a day I should kneel and thank each one of you who made it possible.
I’m not a good man. I’ve cheated death many times in my 71 years on this earth. I have let too many people down and I have hurt so many others. Amy and I hope to celebrate 40 years together as man and wife in two weeks and more than a few out there say she deserves sainthood for remaining with me after all my misdeeds.
I carry a 25-year-chip from Alcoholics Anonymous as a daily reminder that I have been sober, as of this Thanksgiving Day, for 25 years, five months and 22 days. The love of my partner and wife and the support of those who arranged an “intervention” that made me face painful realities brought that first step back in 1994.
Amy faces painful realities this year because of complications from back surgery that caused more problems than it corrected. I hope and pray that I’m strong enough to help her get through this challenge.
Life throws many challenges at us over the years: Some self-inflicted, so as a matter of course and a growing number — at our age — are a consequence of age.
“Whoever called this the ‘golden years’ had a sick sense of humor,’ I often joke but I’m not always laughing when I think that way.
But many of us have so much to be thankful for. Amy and I have enjoyed an interesting and exciting life on this third rock from the Sun. We’ve witnessed history, lived through exciting and sometimes dangerous times. We’ve traveled the world and had to hike alone out of a mountainous area on a Pacific island after our four-wheel drive transportation broke down.
On this Thanksgiving, we remember another one in 1999, when we took Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train from Washington, DC, to Manhattan as guests to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from a studio on Fifth Avenue.
Great times, great memories and great reasons to give thanks for so much so many in a great life.