Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Did He Say?

 [This is a rough draft. The Muse bit hard tonight and I had to put this to pixels]

June 18, exactly two months after his accident, started out looking like a normal day in skilled nursing for Arif.
In the middle of the night, vital statistics gathered, two attendants turned him over in his bed. This scenario repeated every few hours, of course. Several times during the day, the respiratory therapist came to service his trache. A physical therapist and an occupational therapist executed their routines. The speech therapist came to give him a swallow test. She declared that he was not yet ready for food by mouth. So the nurse came to pour his meals into the G tube. She liked to speculate about what he might like to eat. Mom applied oils and liquid nutrients to his arms and legs, and sneaked a few drops of the nutrients into his mouth. It seemed to cause no ill effect.
Yet, a certain air of excitement hovered.
Today, Arif’s brother, Steve, celebrated his fourteenth birthday. Steve was about to take on responsibilities akin to those of young men in pioneer days. Life promised nothing but change, with no assurance of what shape those changes might take. His fourteenth year held much that required of Steve: courage, fortitude, and self reliance. Certainly, the whole family faced these same challenges, but today, we focused on Steve.
Arif and I prayed for Steve in a special way on that day. I spoke to him about how special the birthday celebration needed to be. Yet, I knew that limits must prevail. The situation required the celebration to be toned down from what we desired. A family dinner out, and a trip to the store to get a few presents appeared as the only possibilities.
After Joe finished his work day, he stopped at home to pick up the rest of the family on his way to Joplin. Honnah left work early to join in the celebration.
Steve chose a Chinese buffet for the festivities.
Dinner conversation, of course, began with the latest updates on Arif. Soon, we heard from other quarters. Honnah spoke about work and her band. Steve regaled us with tales of the animals at home. Joe talked about the people at work and their interactions. We also reminisced about Steve’s incomparable birth.

After Joe’s father received a cancer diagnosis, we moved to Mobile, Alabama – a two hour drive from where Dad lived.
We arrived the beginning of March, 1988, three months before Steve’s birth. The company put us up in an apartment, while we looked for a house.
Soon after we arrived in Mobile, it snowed for the first time in decades.
Our apartment overlooked the playground. When Joe arrived home from work each day, the two kids petitioned for some time to use it.
Once on the playground, Joe found himself surrounded by the other kids playing there. He pushed swings, sang songs, and told stories to entertain the crowd. Meanwhile, I fixed dinner uninterrupted.
During the next month, we settled on a house to purchase, after looking at many. The kids fell in love with one house because the yard was covered with early spring foliage, especially featuring dewberries.
“Let’s get the Dewberry house!” we heard for days. Indeed, it became everyone’s first choice, for a variety of reasons.
At the same time, we hunted down the resources we needed to support our lifestyle. Since we chose to birth our babies at home on our waterbed, we needed a midwife. Because of the shortness of time until the anticipated birth, we settled on the first one we found: Renata.
We met with Renata every three weeks for a couple of months.
Just three weeks before the due date, Renata excitedly announced that she signed up for midwife training in Texas. She planned to be gone for two months for this training. We prepared ourselves for the possibility that she might not be available when the time came. It turned out, she returned to Mobile just two weeks later.
We met with her again when she returned and discussed plans for the upcoming Day. Honnah was born in two and a half hours, so we suspected that time would be short. Renata changed her phone number upon her return, so we made sure to make note of it.
Through the following week, contractions came and went.
Saturday morning, the day before Father’s Day, arrived. My day started with a beautiful dream:
As I lay in my bed, I sensed a warm, calm presence. I opened my dream-eyes to see a beautiful young woman, surrounded by light. She wore a pale blue tunic with a rose colored belt, above her obviously pregnant belly. She said nothing, but smiled at me and nodded. I felt we received a visit from the Blessed Virgin Mary, leaving me with a sense of peace. This apparently was a very special child, with divine patronage.
After arising and fixing breakfast for the littles, I called Renata:
“I have a feeling something may happen today.” I told her. “Not right away, but soon. We planned to run errands. I will call you when we get home to give an update.”
“Make sure that you take it easy and sit down whenever you feel like it. Don’t push yourself.” Renata replied. “Call me as soon as something happens.”
Off we went to get groceries. We stopped for lunch at our favorite buffet.
Arriving home in the late afternoon, I lay down for a nap while the rest sat down to watch Star Trek.
When I took a bathroom break, I realized that the amniotic sac hung quite low. So I called to Joe to get Renata on the phone. He also called a friend we met recently so she could come and help with the youngsters.
Lo, and behold, Renata’s youngsters told us she went out house hunting. They did not know where she might be or how to get in touch with her.
It looked like we were indeed on our own.
As I labored on the bed, the two other children snuggled up. Arif stroked my hair, while Honnah held my hand and lay her head on my shoulder. Joe set up to take pictures.
After a bit, our friend came by. She took the kiddos into the living room to read some stories and play games.
At that point, Renata finally arrived. Joe handed her the camera and came to my side for support. Before long, we welcomed our new baby *boy*.
What a surprise! For some reason, we picked the name Michaela for the new family member without considering a boy’s name. Now, it was time to regroup and pick an appropriate name.
It was not hard. We both admired our youngest brothers, so the boy took their names: Steven for my brother and Scot (with one ‘t’) for Joe’s.
Once everything was cleaned up, we sent for the older siblings. They scrambled up on the bed, expressing their delight. Each took a turn holding their new brother and kissing him over and over.
Soon, they tucked him in next to Papa as he read bedtime stories. As the years went by, each child wanted his or her own story. We teased Joe about how tall he got - he was a three story Papa.
The boy found himself cherished by all. He had charisma, even from his earliest years. Strangers stopped us wherever we went, declaring what a darling child they saw.


After dinner, we proceeded to Wal*Mart and the health food store. Steve’s presents were practical ones, and a few healthy treats to take home.
While at the health food store, I insisted that we acquire some tofu. Now that Arif’s monitors were out and the wounds resulting from them had healed enough, It was time to treat him to a tofu plaster. I often joked that I was going to make a plaster big enough to cover his whole head.
We settled on a pound of tofu and a small bag of flour.
Once the family left, I mixed the tofu and flour in a cup and stuffed it into a sock. During the preparations, I chattered to Arif about the dinner.
I secured the tofu plaster with a hat. It remained in place for half an hour. Then, I asked Arif:
“Do you want me to take this off, now?”
“No!” came the response clearly, even through the trache.
Startled, I then asked a couple more questions, getting a garbled response.
Arif started to talk this day!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reports on Near Death Experiences

The next section of Arif's book that I plan to work is about his near death experiences. So I found these videos:

Then there are these:

Near death experiences were even known in the ancient world. Plato tells of one who tells of his experiences in the Legend of Er.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Snowball Surprise

Arif always loved amimals - and many animals that he met loved him in return. We had bird feeders in the back yard, and he made sure they were well stocked. Spiders were escorted outside rather than squished. We even bought a pair of geckos to keep the insect population under control without people harming the six and eight legged critters.
Like most families in a city, if not somewhat suburban, setting, we had a dog, named Raffi, and a black cat, named Shadow. Raffi belonged to Steve, a younger brother, and Shadow was under the care of his sister, Honnah. They both were gentle and patient creatures, as was necessary in a family with several small children.
We contracted for a subscription to a series of cards describing all sorts of animals. Arif watched the mailbox each month for years anticipating their arrival. We still have those cards tucked away in a closet.
When out shopping, it was not unusual to visit a pet store (or two) and ask numerous questions about the care of animals we viewed. The store attendants seemed to love answering his questions, only to be disappointed that we did not purchase anything.
One day - Arif was eight - when visiting a pet store, the hamsters caught Arif’s eye. One particular white Siberian Dwarf hamster, in particular, captured his heart. We heard his pleas for days afterward. Finally, Pop gave in and they returned to the store to acquire said hamster, and the necessary equipment and the healthiest food for the animal’s care.
Arif named the little fellow Snowball.

Upon arrival at home, Arif busied himself, hoping his newfound furry friend would be comfortable in Arif’s room. He set up a cage with water, plenty of cedar chips, and lots of tunnels for Snowball to run through. Each week, as he cleaned the cage, Arif re-arranged the tunnels so Snowball would not get bored. Snowball got treats like fresh greens and sunflower seeds from time to time. Arif was fascinated by the way Snowball stuffed his cheeks with the food before he ate it.
Not long after Snowball moved into Arif’s room, some special friends came to visit. The eldest daughter was Arif’s best friend, in the innocense of eight year olds. However, Arif was not yet dressed when the family arrived, but was so excited that he forgot that detail and ran out to greet his friend all excited to show her his new pet. Unfortunately, his intentions were misunderstood and their friendship was never quite the same after that.
Time passed as Arif and Snowball settled into a routine. Raffi, however, also found a fascination with the tennis ball that moved on its own. Raffi received numerous scoldings for paying a little too much attention to Snowball.
One day, as we returned from an evening church service, Arif found Snowball’s cage on the floor, and no sign of the hamster. We feared the worst. Raffi was found with his nose under the sofa in the front room. Steven was instructed to put Raffi out back. Pop picked up the sofa and Arif retrieved the ball of fur which was huddled underneath.
It was obvious that Raffi had quite a time with his self-propelled tennis ball. Snowball’s fur looked like he had joined a Metal band - matted in some places, spiked in others, and covered with dog slobber, but there was no sign of bleeding - at least on the outside. He was swollen to half again his size, so we realized he must have had many internal injuries. It seemed to us that Raffi had no intent to actually harm his furry playmate, but must have tossed him around a good bit.

Arif was devastated. He burst into tears and begged me to do something to save Snowball. I replied that I did not have what it took to save his buddy, but that we could pray to St. Francis for guidance, if not for a miracle. St. Francis was one of Arif’s heroes and was noted for his care for and rapport with animals.
We both said a quick prayer to ask for St. Francis’ intercession. Arif retired to his room to continue to pray, while I took Snowball into the bathroom to at least get him cleaned up.
As I started running the water and waited for it to warm up, I was struck with an inspiration. A short while earlier, I read a book by a noted herbalist. He spoke very highly of cayenne pepper, especially in tincture form, as a circulatory system tonic. He claimed that cayenne tincture could stop internal bleeding. I recently ordered some cayenne tincture from his store.
It was worth a try, I figured. There was little else I could do. So I sent one of the other children to fetch the bottle from my purse.
I finished cleaning the poor little thing as gently as I could. Then I placed one drop of cayenne tincture in his mouth, hoping for the best and that it would not be a terrible experience for him.
As I gingerly dried Snowball off, I again prayed:
“The rest is up to you, St. Francis. You know how much my son loves his hamster.”
Arif kissed Snowball, and put him carefully back in his cage. I reminded him that the injuries were extensive and that Snowball might not last the night.
Early next morning, I awoke to a shout.
“Mom! Come quick!”
I dashed into Arif’s room, fearing the worst, then realizing that Arif was more excited than upset.
Snowball was alive! He looked like he had no adventures the night before.
Arif and Snowball enjoyed a long (for a hamster) friendship, until one day, as Arif was cleaning the cage, Snowball ran off. We looked everywhere, left out treats in various places, but no sign of Snowball could be found.
When we moved from that house a couple years later, we did find a familiar shaped skeleton behind the washing machine.
Fast forward ten years. Arif miraculously survived a car accident (you can read parts of that story here).
After spending months in hospitals, we finally brought him home - a very different fellow than the one who left that fine April morning. He was wheelchair bound, paralyzed on his left side, and barely able to talk. His attention span and memory were roughly equivalent to that of a goldfish. He often told us he had taken a vow of silence, so it was quite difficult to get any communication from him.
Honnah drove us 45 minutes each way three times a week to take him to physical, occupational, and speech therapy appointments first thing in the morning. He did dress himself, but very slowly and I needed to be present the whole time, or he would forget what he was doing. In order to keep myself calm, I talked with him and prayed with him during the drawn out process. Most of the time, it was a monologue as I got minimal verbal response from him. So, I talked about just about anything that popped into my head.
At one point, I read some accounts of near death experiences, so I became curious. Since Arif was diagnosed as having “no brain activity” for some time, I decided to ask him about the possibility. I really had no expectations of his response.
“Arif, I was wondering if you had some sort of experiences when you were in the hospital - something apart from the hospital events themselves.”
I wanted to leave it as open ended as possible, so he would not be ‘led’ in any particular direction.
To my utter surprise, Arif brightened up and really began chattering:
“Yes! I died and I was judged...” (the rest of that dialog is for another chapter)
This became a topic for discussion on a number of our early morning, sessions. I asked him to describe the events he experienced. The descriptions were fluid and very similar from one telling to the next. With his memory issues, I thought he might forget from one morning to another what he said previously.
After feeling confident that he had really “been there” I began to ask less open ended questions. I asked if he met certain friends and family members who had passed away earlier. His responses made a good bit of sense according to what we knew about those people. Most of those will also be in another chapter.
I also asked about his encounters with various saints. Some of these stories were more vague than those mentioned above.
Until I asked him about his favorite saint - Saint Francis.

Arif started to laugh - a sound we rarely hear, even today.
“Yes ... I did meet with Saint Francis. ... I was so excited. ... And do you know what? ... Saint Francis reached out to me like this (extending both hands, cupped together with a huge grin). ... And do you know what he handed me? ...... A Snowball!”
I chuckled, thinking that was a rather strange item for a saint to deliver.
“Oh well.” I thought “A rather wild story, and one that doesn’t really make sense.”
It was some time later that I remembered a little white hamster.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Walking improvement

Arif does so much better about getting his heel down to the floor.

Sit, Stand, Stay Square

Lucky Friday the Thirteenth

We have seen so much improvement in such a short time. After all these years of struggling for any progress only to have it disappear almost as fast as we made any gains, we are now seeing not only that he is improving, but that we can build on previous gains.

Friday, December 6, 2013

HBOT journal 1

Arif is now receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments. Here he is in his capsule. Stay tuned for updates.