Just across the RV resort street from where our motor home is currently parked is a large grassy area. It is located next to the pool, the shuffleboard courts and a large patio where outdoor cookouts and concerts take place. Just a few feet from the patio, in the middle of the grass is a patch of pretty, white crocuses. They get stepped on, urinated on, by the dogs in the park, including ours, and mowed down by the landscapers.
They keep coming back. Just a few days after these resilient flowers are done in by whatever means, they reappear. First you see a bit of green coming up from the earth, then a bud forms and then low and behold a beautiful star shaped flower opens wide.
I find myself admiring the stubbornness of that small patch of flowers to constantly comeback and make itself seen.
Comebacks are not easy, quite the opposite, and for that reason they are sometimes celebrated.
Who doesn’t love a good sports comeback story? Tom Brady and the Patriots overcame a 25 point deficit to win the 2017 Super Bowl. Nick Faldo wins the 1996 Masters Golf Tournament when entering the final round six strokes behind Greg Norman. August 5, 2001 the Cleveland Indians, 12 runs behind, still managed to defeat the Seattle Mariners and the game is still considered one of baseball’s greatest moments. We baseball fans cannot ever forget how the Boston Red Sox, down three games to none, came roaring back to win four games in a row to defeat the Yankees in the AL championship series.
There are many more stories like this, all inspiring.
There are also stories of personal comebacks. They don’t get the same amount of attention and are rarely celebrated, but they happen just the same. Diane and I and our family members have had to make a few comebacks ourselves.
Diane and I have had to recover, make a comeback from financial setbacks. We lost half our retirement savings when a crooked bank president took down his bank by committing a huge real-estate and trust fund made-off type fraud. The bank folded, and a good portion of our retirement went with it. The president is now serving a thirty year prison term, our money is gone but not forgotten.
I wish I could forget.
Our faith was tested again when we put our house up for sale and the people we thought had the desire and the money to buy it tried to extort thousands from us after we moved out and they refused to close the deal. We paid to free ourselves from them but thanks to a very good real estate agent, and a lawyer, the situation was turned around and we came out better in the end. It was a very hurtful time until the end, it strained our marriage and our faith in God, not to mention what it did to our faith in people.
I had to make a comeback from the death of two friends, both business partners at the time of their deaths. My first friend, Wayne, was murdered. Mike, my second friend died suddenly from cancer. Mikey lived three months after he was diagnosed. I had known him for almost thirty years. I was devastated both times.
Diane had two tough pregnancies. The last one almost killed her and our newborn son. She had a severe case of toxemia which led to pre-eclampsia. She spent four weeks in the hospital. Our infant son spent one week in the neo-natal unit down the hall from her room suffering from Hyaline Membrane Disease also known as Infant respiratory distress syndrome. I spent a very long time praying the night Joel came into this world. He came back from his illness and made a complete recovery, some say it was a miraculous recovery. He became a track star both in high school and college where he set a lot of records.
I think that trials and tribulations have strengthened our faith DNA and some of that DNA has been passed down to our kids. All of them have comeback stories, recovery from tough marriages and divorces, illnesses and loss.
Our oldest daughter Christine has comeback from a rough first marriage and is now married again to Robert, a good man and husband, raising four kids, Austen, in college, Carson, Brookie and Evan. Christine is a very hard worker, getting a college degree in and working as a professional photographer.
Joel had to recover from the temporary but terrible loss of his and his fiance Ashley’s home when hurricane Matthew flooded it and his new car.
The weekend of the flood, they were on their way out of town, traveling late on a Friday afternoon to the Shenandoah mountains from Virginia Beach. That evening they were in the back sea of a car that was following another car of folks who worked with Ashley, up a winding dark mountain two lane road. Suddenly the car in front swerved into the left lane, it was hit by an oncoming car which spun it around, and it started to cross back into the right lane when it hit the car Joel and Ashley were passengers in so hard it tore off the driver’s side front tire and then both cars spun off the road into the woods. While they were sitting there trying to figure out what just happened, a young man came running up to the car yelling he was so sorry, so sorry, he didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It turned out that this young man had just lost his job, broke up with his girl friend and was so despondent that he was walking down the middle of the road thinking he had no good reason to live and death by car was the way to end his life.
This young man did not know how or did not desire to come back from his loss and he almost took some lives down the same dark road he was walking on. I believe God intervened to keep that from happening. Hours later, the police arrested the young man and Joel, Ashley and party were able to finish their journey. The story doesn’t end there however. The next day Ashley and Joel got the word that their house had three feet of water in it. There was nothing they could do, there was no point in heading back to their home, they would not be allowed to enter the flooded neighborhood. It was decided that everyone needed to get out and have a bit of fun so they went to a festival in the neighboring town.
While at the Festy as it was called, Joel and Ashley were in line at a food truck when another truck close by suddenly exploded, sending fire and dark smoke to the heavens. The explosion was the result of a propane tank malfunction and that tank explosion spread to other trucks as well. Joel and Ashley hit the ground and were not injured.
The next day they went home to examine their flooded house.
How do you recover from a weekend like that? How do you come back to life?
It has taken many months but Joel and Ashley are back in their refurnished and refurbished home and planning their wedding.
Our daughter Jeri, a trained neuro nurse, also recovered from a failed first marriage. She has been married to Tom for over ten years, has two good boys named Dylan and Gavin. She has two boys but has given birth to three. The third is named Daniel. Daniel would be the middle child, if he had lived.
Daniel was born with an extremely rare brain malformation. He was born very prematurely. Because of this defect he was not expected to survive an induced delivery but he did, for one half day. One half day. Diane had gotten the bad news earlier and had flown down to Florida to be with Jeri and Tom. The three of them held Daniel, prayed for him, loved him and said good bye as he took his final quiet little breath.
Diane said it was the saddest day of their lives, and she was including herself.
I was not there I was home with Teddy Bear but my prayers and tears were with them.
How do you come back from something like the loss of a child?
Tom and Jeri have. They did not lose their faith in God, just the opposite. I consider their response to this tragedy to be heroic. Almost a year later Gavin was born, their little red headed big smiling genius (that is my description of him anyway). They have dedicated their lives to looking after their boys and living with joy along side the loss of Daniel and Bryan, Tom’s dad. Bryan died from brain cancer. Yes, they have had a couple of really bad times, but I promise you, you don’t see any strong residual effect when you visit their home. I am so proud of both of them. Theirs is a big comeback story.
You might be asking yourself why I chose to write this, I am asking myself that same question. I guess it is because Diane and I almost lost our Teddy Bear, our dog, our best friend, earlier this month. He went into cardiac failure very suddenly one night. He was coughing really badly during his last walk and then just a few hours later he was gasping for breath. I made a call to a vet emergency number and after describing his condition was told to get him to the all night vet hospital right away. We did, and if we had not taken him, in all probability he would not have survived the night. His heart was enlarged and his lungs were filling with fluid. Our dog was drowning.
The doctor at the hospital treated him and saved his life. Since that night we have dosed him with meds and lots of prayer and according to the vet he has made a great come back!
Death, financial setback, sickness, loneliness, abuse from others, all are something you have to recover from, comeback from, you have to try anyway, but how. With me it is prayer, clinging to God and his promise to take care of our cares if we give those cares to Him.
The Apostle Paul said he ran and finished his great race. When you find yourself in the back of the pack in this race called life, just point yourself at the finish line and with God's help you will get there, you will come back!
PS: Sometimes its the small things that get to us. Spaghetti sauce on our favorite shirt. Our new car gets scratched, you loose your favorite kite in a tree. All these things can be repaired or replaced. I think God cares about everything in our lives but somethings He expects us to come back mostly on our own. Don’t you agree?