Thank you for being friends
By Frank Phillips
When our oldest child was in elementary school, he came home pretty somber one afternoon.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
The teacher had surveyed the kids to find out what they thought they might like to do when they grew up.
About half the kids thought they would work in the coal mines “like their dads” and the other half thought they would go on welfare “like their dads.”
“I don’t want to work in the mines or go on welfare,” my son said.
We talked about the need for a good education and both he and his sister have made us proud.
I thought of that today while recuperating from a heart attack or what I call “imposed relaxation.”
It’s like Mark Twain wrote in “Huckleberry Finn”: When you can’t scratch your nose, that’s all you want to do.
Every year I look forward to a week of relaxation but now that relaxation has been imposed following my heart attack, I can’t wait to get back to work.
I actually look forward to hand washing the dishes each day just to feel that I am being productive.
My experience with a heart attack and the resulting two stents implanted to open my artery (what one friend told my wife was the “widow maker” -- a term she didn’t need to hear at the time) has been made much easier by our network of friends in this wonderful community.
The support we have received from all over west central Indiana has been terrific. Prayers, offers of help, etc. are much appreciated.
Jeanne Burris sat with Linda during my procedure. In fact, when the ambulance arrived at Union, the nurse said my family was already there. I knew it couldn’t be Linda. It was Jeanne.
Even our friend, Mayor Brian Wyndham, as busy as he is, called to offer help.
I asked the hospital chaplain to call our friend and pastor, Mark Thompson, to ask for prayers.
Mark called me at the hospital and offered to come over but no, I just wanted him to pray and we were on our way home that day.
The way to the hospital with the ambulance siren screaming was made easier because I had befriended employees of STAR Ambulance years ago when I worked for a newspaper in Crawfordsville. One of those guys was either driving or riding with me in the ambulance, (I’m not sure which) so I knew I was in good hands.
Bob Chrisman, one of my weight lifting buddies from the YMCA came over and mowed our lawn so Linda wouldn’t have to.
When Linda went to pick up a few groceries, several people stopped her to offer help. She was almost in tears when she got home.
So many people called and expressed concern on Facebook; it just humbled us and made us love our community even more.
Still, I was in denial for the first 12 hours after they told me at St Vincent Clay Hospital, “You are having a heart attack.”
“Unbelievable,” I kept repeating all the way to Union Hospital.
Even during the stent procedure, I felt more like I was in the dentist’s chair than undergoing anything serious.
I don’t think I realized I was having a serious heart procedure until my daughter was on the phone from Missouri crying, “I love you, dad.”
We tell each other we love one another all the time but it is never accompanied by tears.
Then discouragement and emotional turbulence set it.
Sunday morning, Father’s Day was not a happy time.
All I could think of was, “Now you’re going to be a cripple like your dad for the rest of your life.”
Dad died of cancer when he was about my age after years of blindness and sitting around the house in his pajamas all day.
But, my son and his family came to visit Sunday afternoon and soon we were laughing as I told him family stories he hadn’t heard. Even one about my dad -- his grandfather -- “killing” his hospital roommate.
Dad got up in the middle of the night and didn’t turn on his light because he didn’t want to wake up the guy in the next bed.
Dad accidentally tipped over the tray that was on wheels and when it crashed, it scared his roommate so much that he died a few days later -- of a heart attack. Life can be a vicious circle.
The ICU nurse evidently could see I had the blues because she asked if I wanted to sit up to eat lunch.
“Dad, it wasn’t a request,” my son said when I declined.
“That’s right,” the nurse said. “You’ll feel better.”
Well, by Monday morning I realized my life wasn’t over. Yes, I was going to have to take a ton of pills and make minor adjustments to my diet but that wasn’t a major issue.
Monday morning, Chris Pruett, our publisher, reassured me while listening to me blubber on the phone. He said that my health was more important than the paper and he was sure everything would be OK when I returned t work.
I love my job and I honestly love Brazil and Indiana.
Now, I’m getting restless and want to go back to my full normal routine which Dr. Yacoub said I can resume after two weeks. When you read this, I plan to be back at my desk, at the front window, on the second floor of what I have nicknamed “The Brazil Times Building.” I just can’t work out or do anything strenuous for another week.
Even Linda didn’t argue with me about going back to the weight room at the Y and I thought sure she would try to baby me.
So, how does this tie in with my son’s elementary school predicament?
I believe in welfare for those who need it.
In Bible days farmers were told to leave remnants of the harvest in the field to be picked up by poor people. That is how Ruth met Naomi as I recall.
But I am so thankful my work and the welcome we have received from our community has been such a blessing.
A post-it note on my work computer reminds me to do all the good I can to everyone I can.
That’s the only way to live!