I have four brothers and one sister. I am referring to my brothers by their birth order.
This morning at 3:40 am, my #2 brother called.
"I have bad news."
"Dad is alive. But he's been taken to the hospital with chest pains and arm pain."
My head swam. No. Not my dad. He runs 2 miles every morning! He's too young! No!
We prayed together, and just as we finished, my #4 brother called to see if I'd heard the news. I had. We prayed together, and as I spoke with him, I slapped Jeff repeatedly on the knee until I was sure he was awake.
After my #4 brother hung up, I crawled into Jeff's arms and sobbed my little heart out. I said, "Isn't running every day supposed to prevent things like this?" Of course, there's no answer to that question.
I told my #4 brother that I would call all of my dad's brothers (there are four of them too).
But first I called my mom to see if there was an update. I got my #1 brother. He was at the hospital with my parents. He said Daddy was in a lot of pain, but stable.
While I was talking to him, my #3 brother called. We divvied up the calling of the uncles.
While speaking with my #4 uncle, I can't even remember which relative called to say they were air-lifting my dad via helicopter to the nearest big city to see a heart specialist. (My parents live way up in the mountains.)
This update began a second round of calls. My sister sent out email updates.
I was on the phone from 3:40 am until 6:15 am.
By that time, a very generous soul had booked me a flight to the big city. Jeff was my calm, my rock, my presence of mind. He packed me, and he thought of everything. Grandma came to watch the boys, and Jeff drove me to the airport.
I have friends, one of them a teacher, in the big city, but they both work, so I didn't think they'd be able to pick me up at the airport in the middle of the morning. But in perfect symmetry with God's awesome master plan, my teacher friend just happened to be observing another teacher today, so she'd gotten a sub for her regular classes. Then, when she showed up to observe, the other teacher said he'd had a bunch of stuff come up and only had time for her to observe first period. It was the period she wanted to observe anyway. She got all the information she needed in the first half hour, and then she had the rest of the day off. She NEVER has the day off. She's a teacher!
I made my flight with seconds to spare, touched down at my destination an hour later, and my teacher friend came with open arms to pick me up, offering rides, housing, errands, love, support, cheer and calm demeanor, all of which were sorely needed.
In the hospital parking lot, I called Jeff to tell him I'd landed. He had talked to my mom, who'd given him Dad's room number and direct phone line. My friend and I were able to walk right to Dad's room without any excess wandering abound the large hospital facility.
Dad was cracking jokes with the nurse when I walked in. His color was good. While I was flying to him, he had an angioplasty. They found the blockage in his artery right away and put a stent in. He's going to be fine.
I left my #2 uncle a message, and he was able to call and talk to my dad.
And Dad was required to lie still without lifting his head off the pillow for several hours, but he was starving, so I got to feed him lunch. I'm used to feeding small children, so I kept giving him tiny bites. And my hand was all trembly, so I kept accidentally hitting his beard instead of his mouth. So funny. He was like, "Uh...maybe I'll just hold onto a napkin..." and then he kept wiping his face with it when I missed. :)
The hospital staff said that while running every day didn't prevent a heart attack, it most certainly prevented the heart attack from sending Dad to the morgue. He wouldn't have made it if he weren't the athlete he is.
Dad was actually out on his run when the attack hit. Several blocks from home, he had to walk a hundred feet or so, then get down on his knees to rest, then walk some more, then rest. He said he simply begged God to get him home in time. And God did.
When he got home, he woke my mom, and she called 911. Four EMTs came with the ambulance, and after doing some basic checks at the house, hauled him off to their local hospital. He was only there for an hour or two before the helicopter came and got him.
Mom got to ride in the front seat of the helicopter, next to the pilot. Five-point-harness, headset, the works. Spectacular mountain tops my dad, a mountain climber, has longed for Mom to see kept her looking all around her in awe as she and Dad were flown the 45 minutes to the hospital. She finally got to see his mountains.
My #2 brother and my #4 brother and his cute wifey flew in this evening.
Then, my #1 uncle called to say he'd previously scheduled an early morning flight out of the same big city (he lives several hours away but this big city has the closest airport) the very next morning, to visit his daughter. So he just came a few hours early, and was able to spend the evening with us.
Mom is sleeping at the hospital tonight, and my three siblings and I are snuggled in at my friends' house.
Hundreds of people prayed for my dad today. And God answered. He is good. And His plan is good. (And we all ordered really healthy food for dinner and vowed to get more exercise.)