Sunday, June 26, 2011


(I started this post 2 weeks ago, then said thunderstorm took out the computer.)

It's a little after 3pm on Sunday. There's a load of clothes in the washer, one in the dryer, and about 3 in the baskets, waiting to be folded.  Tandi, worn out by 5 days at the boarder's, is sprawled on the sofa, one eyeball occasionally following me about the room, but primarily snoring away.  J-Man is sleeping in the recliner, his head propped on his right fist.  I'll bet he'll be awakened by the pins-and-needles sensation soon. All the plants are finally watered, and of course, the summer afternoon rainshower has started, thunder rumbling and echoing around the mountains. It seems like a normal day, but it's surreal following an extraordinary week.

One week ago today, my nephew Garrett succumbed to complications from the injuries acquired in the April 27 tornados in Alabama. One week ago today, he left this earth to be with his wife Jennifer, and his brother Brandon, who also died 10 years ago this week. One week ago today, my other nephew became an only child, and his children became the only grandchildren my brother and sister-in-love will ever have. Odd to think of death in these terms.

Tues. Jack and I left for Birmingham, to stay with Frank and Janell for a few days.  DD was already there, staying with the other nephew and his family. I was prepared to stay at a motel, giving my brother and his wife space to grieve, but they would have none of it. My sister-in-love should have been born under the sign of Cancer, not Leo, because she loves cooking for and tending to a house full of people. Hers is a back-door house, where only deliverymen ring the front doorbell.  Everyone else enters through the kitchen, and close friends as well as family know where the spare key is kept. 

The viewing was at the funeral home Wed. night, scheduled from 5-8 pm, with family coming a half hour early. When they opened the doors, the line was already down the hall, through the foyer, and out to the parking lot, and it was 9pm before everyone had come through and the doors were closed.  Co-workers of Garrett and Jennifer came, as did co-workers of Frank and Janell, old friends, in-laws of family members; nurses who'd cared for Garrett came, and even the wife of the primary ICU physician left her 3-week-old infant to come and convey to my brother and his wife just how much Garrett and his family had meant to her husband. I got to meet Jennifer's parents for the first time, hugged family members I haven't seen in over 40 years, and saw friends from elementary school. It's different when you continue to live in the town where you grew up.

My brother, who has a wonderful voice, sang at yet another son's funeral.   He sang the same song he did at Jennifer's funeral.  I don't know how he did it. The chapel was standing room only. There was a brief graveside ceremony, with both Jennifer's parents and Garrett's parents releasing doves who joined a flock of others and flew home.  Garrett was buried next to where Jenn had been buried 3 1/2 weeks before.

When we got back to the house, friends had already brought chicken, mac and cheese, slaw, baked beans, rolls--Southern food for sure. More friends came bringing more food, pizza, desserts, drinks. At one point, there were 6 little ones, ranging from 14 months to 6 years, a couple of teens, and 28 adults in the house. Guys clustered in front of the big screen TV and some sports event, women swapped birth stories and family gossip, babies were passed from one's hip to another's, barefooted kids ran the circle of rooms, and the kitchen table demographics shifted constantly. My sister's oldest girl had brought several family photo albums she found at her mom's, which prompted my sister-in-love to pull hers out.  We laughed over big hair, sideburns, plaid tennis shoes ("Mom, why'd you let me wear those???), little girls in Easter dresses and little boys in short pants, Christmases past. 

At one point, looking around at it all, my daughter dissolved in tears. "They  should be here."  She was right. It could have been any family gathering--Independence day, a birthday, Thanksgiving. It was a renewing of friendships, relationships, family ties.

In the midst of death, it was a celebration of Life.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Together Again

Jennifer Jones   June 7, 1985 - April 27, 2011
Garrett Jones   March 7, 1986 - June 5, 2011

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Still Here

Well, it's been 3 1/2 days since we were told Garrett had only hours, at best 2 days, to live--and they underestimated. They underestimated  the strength of Garrett's will and the Power of Prayer. On the facebook page "Prayers for Garrett Jones", there are over 5000 people signed up to pray at a specific time every night, and those are only the folks on FB.  We have heard of prayer chains and church groups, and people who are not on the computer at all, but have heard of Garrett's plight and pray for him, his family, and the staff caring for him. It's miraculous in itself, and it's very humbling.

We aren't delusional; we know his condition is still critical, and his oxygen levels still dangerously low. Besides praying for him to survive, I also ask God that he not have brain damage, because to come through all this and then to spend the rest of his days in an adult diaper, being fed, would be too awful for words. So I pray for all that I want, because God knows what's in my heart, anyway. 

Those who post on Facebook tell of their experiences of healing; how a 4-yr-old son survived the pediatric version of ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome); how an 80-year-old parent survived it; how a young woman survived it and wrote to tell us.  We've heard from a soldier in Kuwait and one in Afghanistan, and we pray for them in return. Survivors of the Joplin tornado  have sent their prayers. It's an amazing experience. I invite you to go and check it out, and if you feel so led, "like" the page and add your prayers to ours. Because of the sheer volume of responses and comments, I am still posting the updates on the blog for Garrett, to make it easier to sort through.  We've been told of Caring Bridge, but I can't see how that is any more informative or convenient than what we already have.

Neither Frank nor Janell have been back to work yet. So far, their jobs are still available for them, and I pray that continues.  We have set up an account for Garrett's use, for medical costs, and for supplies he will need when he comes home, and checks have been sent for Frank and Janell's use, as they pay at least $6.00/day in parking, and usually eat at the cafeteria or various fast food places around. Frank said he really misses home-cooked meals right now, and that his buns are being permanently re-shaped by the waiting room chairs. Day after day, they go up there and sit for hours, and sometimes they don't go home at night. Their faith is tested; my brother was in tears when he called me at 4:30 the other morning, but he ends almost every post with "Expecting a Miracle". 

My co-workers have been so understanding. Several have offered to work for me if I have to miss a shift, or if I feel like I need to leave. So far I've not had to take them up on it; I have my meltdowns at home. They've taken up money to send my brother, and some others, who signed their card only "from some folks who care", have also sent an envelope of cash for my family. The chaplains sent Garrett $50.00. I can't tell them all "thank you" enough, and it seems so inadequate.

I hope and pray that none of them, nor the 5000+ ever find themselves in a similar situation, but if they should, I hope they call on me for prayers and help. I have a huge debt to repay.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We Need That Miracle Now

Sorry, but just had to post this for those of you not on FB or not readers of the blog for Garrett.

Garrett has taken a serious turn for the worse, and, barring a miracle, it's only a matter of hours to a couple of days before all his organs fail.  If his oxygen levels continue to remain this low much longer, he most assuredly would have brain damage. My brother and his wife have changed him to a Do Not Resuscitate status.

 It's been 5 weeks today since The Tornado, since Jennifer was taken from us.

We're still praying for a miracle.