|By Gaylen Duskey|
I have spent a little time doing what many people do this time of year -
checking out the Christmas decorations of others.
And I have seen some beautiful ones such as a couple of great displays on
U.S. 33 between Millstone and Spencer; one very nice one in a bottom on
W.Va. 16 south of Arnoldsburg; some here in Grantsville and of course Jim
Bell's extravaganza near the Grantsville city limits where you start up
Of course there are other very nice displays, but the one that to me shines
the brightest in just across Elizabeth Street in our neighbor's (Henry and
Phyllis Richards) front yard. It is one of those circular trees that I'm
sure you have seen thousands of times with multicolored lights running from
the top down to the ground.
Under normal circumstance I would consider the tree pretty but not overly
But I know the rest of the story. And the rest of the story is what makes
this tree so beautiful.
About a year ago - Jan. 1, 2003 - Henry and Phyllis came over to visit us.
We talked about mundane things like the weather, family, etc., etc., and at
about 9:30 in the evening they went home.
At about 3:30 a.m. a drama started unfolding next door. I may have even been
up fiddling around on the computer when this life-and-death struggle began,
but if I were I knew nothing about it.
Not until the next morning when Henry got hold of us did we learn any of
what was going on.
Phyllis, he said, had suffered a heart attack and had been transported to
CAMC in Charleston. But that is such a bare bones analysis of things . The
story itself is much more than that. It is the story of a miracle.
Yes, Phyllis had had a heart attack. It was a massive heart attack.
Phyllis woke up unable to breath. She told Henry it felt like there was a
weight on her chest. Henry called another neighbor Sonja Cain, a nurse at
Minnie Hamilton. Sonja immediately called for an EMS squad.
When it arrived it had to shock her. They were going to fly her from Minnie
Hamilton to Charleston but a heavy fog socked in Grantsville and the
helicopter could not make it. They decided instead to take her in an
I have heard 13 times and I have heard 17 times. But en route they had to
repeatedly shock her to get her heart started again and it makes little
difference the exact number of times other than to show just how near death
At the hospital they did what they could do and waited.
And a lot of us prayed.
She lay in the hospital for a few days before regaining consciousness. It
would still be touch-and-go for many days before she got out of the
hospital. It would be touch-and-go many months before she started feeling
like recovery was a probability, not a possibility.
Today it is still touch
and go because she tires easy and doesn't have a lot of energy from time to
But there is enough energy to be a neighbor and friend to Linda, Elizabeth
and me. There is enough energy to be a mother to Kelly and Becky and a wife
Last year Christmas at the Richards' household was bright, but nothing
special beyond the normal holiday season.
This year Christmas is very special.
That's why the little Christmas tree in the lot at the corner of Elizabeth
and Main in Grantsville shines the brightest of all to me, because I know
the rest of the story.
You may contact Gaylen Duskey at firstname.lastname@example.org