In a year like no one living today has seen before, it may be counter intuitive to think there has been much to be thankful for; however, there always is, and our family has a couple of examples to share.
My wife’s sister Penny, her husband, their daughter and her husband together with their two children all live in a two-family home in Lake Charles, La., where the deadliest and most destructive hurricane ever to make landfall there came ashore on Aug. 27.
Left in its wake was unimaginable damage to the entire city that Mayor Nic Hunter summed up as, “A tragedy and catastrophe the likes of which we have not seen in a lifetime.”
Hurricane Laura brought 150 mph winds and a storm surge up to 15 feet, forcing more than half a million people to evacuate southwest Louisiana. The eye of the massive storm passed right over Lake Charles.
Among those fleeing the onslaught, that would result in 77 deaths and more than $14 billion in damage, were Penny and her husband and their two grandchildren. Their destination was our Arlington home.
That left behind their daughter, a pharmacist in a Lake Charles hospital and considered essential, and her husband, a petrochemical operative who would be needed in that vital industry.
You can imagine the anxiety as we watched television broadcasts all night from the safety of our den as the storm approached, knowing that they, together with their son-in-law’s elderly mother, were crouched in the safest area of their home literally hoping to survive.
Prayers were lifted and answered. That’s when the thanksgiving occurred during Hurricane Laura. As they were when Hurricane Delta came through on Oct. 9, when they all stayed sheltered in their home.
While homes in the family’s neighborhood were destroyed, theirs was spared with only minor damage. The family was unhurt and soon able to help those who were.
The second of the blessings for which we are thankful occurred in the life of my wife’s brother Jay and his family.
He had experienced some discomfort in his throat and wondered if a tonsil was the cause. A cancerous tumor was discovered on a tonsil that potentially involved other areas in the neck and throat.
After having the tonsil removed and the pathology confirming the diagnosis, he was referred to an oncologist who specialized in treating that type of cancer. The doctor was encouraging about the treatment plan he successfully used on patients, but it would require rigorous radiation and chemotherapy with significant side effects.
A special metal mesh mask would be made for his head and shoulder area that is literally bolted down on the treatment table so as to focus the nuclear beam directly on the cancerous mass.
Repeated weekly sessions of radiation spanned two months, with the chemo infusions adding to the regimen with its own set of side effects to try and manage – including concerns about lung and kidney functions impacted by the poison injected into his body.
During all of this, he lost his taste sensation, and his gag reflex became intense, which resulted in his becoming disinterested in eating anything, adding another dimension to his condition because it was vitally important for him not to lose weight during the treatment processes for three reasons: The mask would no longer hold him in place, he needed nutrition for the healing process and to rebuild his kidney function that had been damaged.
What he was going through was so complicated that doubts were raised that he could tolerate it all and the cancer would win the battle.
Soon, although he and his family didn’t think soon was coming around soon enough, thanksgiving occurred.
Surviving all of that produced the hoped-for healing. Following subsequent tests, scans, and lab analysis, his doctor delivered the cancer-free declaration.
Although he still awaits the return of “normal” – the most important diagnosis any of us can hear from any doctor – prayers again have been answered and gratefulness is experienced as this most uncommon year is drawing to a close.