Last week, and the week before, I told you of a short period of just over six months during which Lolly and I genuinely learned to take the good with the bad, something which has helped us to smooth out the rough spots we all face during our lives.
There was another lesson we learned during those six months, something I think you should know about because it meant a lot to us, and so may have some special meaning to you too.
While we were nearing the end of an otherwise very happy two-and-half years we spent in Utah, Lolly gave birth to Francis, our second child. Francis was born somewhat early, and so we had to leave our tiny little baby in the care of the base hospital and come in three times a day for feedings.
That was, of course, a bit inconvenient; but as I am sure most people would, we took it in our stride, happy that the hospital was taking special care of our newborn. It was, however, an entirely different matter when we came in on the fifth evening and discovered that our tiny little baby, diagnosed with often-deadly spinal meningitis, had been evacuated to Salt Lake General Hospital, 35 miles away. It took some doing for us to keep our spirits up as we drove to the hospital each day to view our poor little child, lying silently in a small bed with injection devices in his tiny heels, one for intravenous feeding and one for antibiotics.
Nor did it help much when we found out that the base hospital people considered Francis’ E-coli bacterial infection such a serious matter that they evacuated the hospital and fogged it down with some kind of anti-bacterial spray before they resumed seeing patients. However, as bad as things seemed, we kept telling ourselves the same thing day after day, as we made the trek back and forth from Salt Lake City:
Where there’s life, there’s hope!
I should add, that the doctor in the Salt Lake hospital was one of the finest human beings I have ever met. He didn’t say much, but whenever he spoke it was always something supportive.
I am happy to be able to tell you that one day after three long weeks he looked at us, smiled understandingly, and quietly told us, “Your child will survive.”
On the drive home that day Lolly and I were two of the most thankful human beings on the planet; and a month later, as we drove home with Francis, each of us had tears of joy in our eyes.
A few days later I happened to be talking to my boss at Hill AFB, an experienced master sergeant who always struck me as a pillar of wisdom. I was telling him how grateful and happy we both were, when he mentioned something to me that I didn’t know, something that genuinely caused me to think.
“You know, Tom,” he said, “there’s one reason I have enjoyed my 30 years in uniform. There are always going to be rough spots in military life, but there’s one thing you can always be sure of: We take care of each other. Did you know that the base spent over $25,000 on that baby of yours by contracting his care with the Salt Lake hospital?”
No, I didn’t know that; and little did he know what an effect those words would have on me.
More next week.