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I Believe God Put Us Together – 4

April 24, 2013

This is an excerpt from my second book, “Memory Harvest of a Sharecropper’s Son,” which is now available in Amazon Kindle format and in printed format. This story is more about my late wife.

In 1989 Billie had a major heart attack while we were on a trip, which I have chronicled in another story, God Is in Control. We nearly lost her twice that day. Four hours after they put her in the Cardiac Care Unit, she flat-lined while I was visiting with her. Bells began ringing and the nurses ran me out as they rolled the electric paddles into the room. I went to the waiting room with tears in my eyes. I thought I had just lost her. I was selfish and begged God to keep her alive.

Within minutes, a nurse came to the waiting room calling me by name. She told me that Billie was okay and they had not used the electric paddles. She had recovered on her own. I thanked God. I still thank Him daily for the time I had with her.

Many times after that incident, Billie talked about the attendants saying that she was dying. She could hear them, but could not say anything. She said that she was not scared. She was not worried about dying because she knew where she was going – to Heaven!

Following the heart attack, Billie’s doctor told us that with care and medication, we would have another five to ten years together. We had quite a bit longer, but still not long enough. I am still selfish.

Billie became an insulin-dependent diabetic during the year following her heart attack. Before long, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Part of her heart muscle was killed during the heart attack. Over the years, more of her heart muscle died until the last year of her life, she was down below 30-percent heart function. A pacemaker/defibrillator was installed when her heart function went below 35 percent.

In early 2000, we were at a relative’s 50th Anniversary and one of my sisters reminded her that our 50th would be coming up in five years. I overheard Billie tell my sister that we probably would not make our 50th because of her health. That year, I made a big deal of celebrating our 45th Anniversary. Five years later, we also celebrated our 50th Anniversary.

As her health continued to degenerate, I became her caregiver. Each year began requiring more care. Billie even said a few times during her last year that she never dreamed that I would care for her as I had. I always told her that I had taken a vow, ‘in sickness and in health,’ and I meant it. I tried to keep her going as long as I could. I wanted to keep her with me forever.

She finally became weak enough that her heart just quit, right in front of me. The last words from her mouth were, “I just felt an electric shock,” as her pacemaker/defibrillator tried to restart her heart. But, her heart was too weak and it did not restart. I still see that scene in my mind over and over.

She had changed my life completely, from someone with no thoughts of marriage or a family of my own when I was 21 years old to her husband for over 56 years, with a large family of four children, 13 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

As in all marriages, we had our good times and bad times, but we worked at it and stayed together. I loved her dearly and still do. I miss her so much. I told her I loved her many times a day. Once a man at work heard me say, “I love you” just before I hung up from talking to her on the phone. He asked how many times a day I said that and I replied, “Every time I talk to her.” He asked me why I said it so often. I told him that some day, one of us would be gone and I wanted her to know that one of the last things I had said to her was, “I love you.”

I have written many stories about our lives together, living in a three-room shack in the Bahama Islands, etc. We had a fantastic life together. I have many wonderful memories, some of which I have written about. There are more stories still to write. 

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