This short essay was written by my 12-year-old granddaughter, Annie Rushton. She wrote it for one of her classes in school. I think you will enjoy her take on my near death experience, last May.
In 1989, my grandfather, Jack Rushton, was body surfing at Laguna Beach and broke his neck. He has been a quadriplegic for the last twenty-two years. Despite being paralyzed, my grandfather, along with my grandmother, has been very supportive of me and my three siblings. For example, they come from Orange County to my family`s soccer games, choir events, birthday parties, or just to visit. My grandparents have been very involved in my life. I know they love me and are proud of me. I love them with all my heart.
Four months ago, I found myself sitting on my colorful be will d doing homework. My grandfather had been in the hospital for two weeks at the time, not able to talk or interact. The phone rang loudly to be heard by all. A couple of minutes after being answered, I walked into my mom`s room to see her crying.
“What`s wrong?” I asked concerned.
“That was Dad on the phone,” Mom said while wiping a tear off her cheek.
“What`d he say? Did he call from the hospital?” I asked curiously.
“Yes, and he said that the doctors did a lot of tests on Grandpa and they just found out that he has brain damage. They said he won`t ever be the same. He won`t talk. He won`t wake up and they said we should just let him die.”
I just sat there. I was in too much shock to truly believe what my mother was saying. I did not want to just stand by and wait for my grandfather`s death to pass. I wished there was something we could do. I did not want to say good bye to him. Not now. Not ever. I then cried along with my mother in disbelief.
My entire family on my dad`s side agreed we would wait a few weeks before letting my grandpa die to make sure the unthinkable was true. Since my family took shifts to care for my grandfather, my mom and I decided we should go watch him for a couple of hours. I had a soccer game all the way in Orange County, so afterwards we would go visit him in the hospital.
At 10:00a.m., we parked next to the dozens of cars already at the hospital. I could not help notice how many windows the blue and white building had. Much more than fifteen rectangular holes were neatly carved out of the boring hospital. On the front of the structure all I could see were big letters spelling out the words, “Kaiser Permanente, Irvine”. As I walked inside the building through revolving doors, in the corner I saw a tan woman with oval glasses sitting behind a desk typing on the computer in front of her. The walls were painted yellow and there were square pieces of tile implanted as the floor. My mom and I stepped inside the elevator across the room. My mom pressed the button with a three on it, the doors closed, and the elevator lifted us to the third floor. We exited the contraption and strolled to the room which my grandpa was staying in. The room was a perfect square with walls and a ceiling attached. It had a bed which my grandpa was laying in, at least five chairs, a T.V. attached to the wall, a refrigerator, and a cot on the other side of Grandpa. My uncle, John, and his girlfriend, Jessica, were both occupying two of the chairs. Grandpa was laying on the bed with many wires attached to his body, nose, and his bed. My mom and I greeted them both and then I hopped on top of the cot. My mom sat across from John and Jessica on a chair.
“How is he?” My mom questioned John.
“He`s been sleeping all morning.” He replied.
“I’m going to try to wake him up.” My mom stated. She walked toward his bed. “Hi Dad, it’s me, Kim. Annie is here with me. We just came from her soccer game in Tustin.” My grandpa opened his blue eyes like a baby opening its eyes for the very first time.
“Let`s feed him some ice chips. He`ll like that more than the I.V,” John said while pulling up a clear and small plastic bowl full of crushed ice chips. He grabbed a spoon and held up a scoop to Grandpa`s lips. His mouth quivered at the coldness. The ice chips disappeared in his mouth. He was actually eating. I`m sure he loved having the taste in his mouth.
An hour after that, John and Jessica left to go grab something to eat. I was very bored. I was not having the most fun playing on John`s lap top so I started playing around. When my mom was feeding Grandpa some ice chips, I was making silly faces, dancing and jumping behind her. Grandpa`s eyes slowly turned towards me. My mom noticed where his eyes were going and she looked behind her and saw me making a pig face. She gave me a look as if I were an alien from space. I looked back at her and sat down. Then she proceeded to feed grandpa. I couldn`t help but act silly again, but when she looked back I sat down before she noticed a second time. I stood on a chair so I could see Grandpa and so he could see me. My mom glanced back at me.
“Sing him a song.” My mom requested. Okay, I thought, I could do that. So, I sang three beautiful songs that I learned and memorized from my choir class at school to my grandpa. I could tell that he loved my performance. Before I could sing a fourth song, Grandpa started making very funny noises. He grunted and yelled the strangest sounds I have ever heard. He was trying to talk! My grandma had just arrived and entered the room during the musical performance. She was overjoyed to hear her husband make sounds and eat ice chips.
“Annie, sing some more! I want to hear you too,” my grandma exclaimed. So, I repeated a few more songs, hovering above my grandparents on the chair, which had become my stage. Again, my grandfather let out a loud garbled sound.
“I think he is trying to talk!” my mom and Grandma both said at once. “He really likes your singing, Annie.” My mom immediately called my Dad, and all of my aunts and uncles, yelling, “You won’t believe what’s happening! Dad is trying to talk! Annie was standing on a chair singing to Dad and he started making sounds. It’s a miracle!”
The nurse came in and took care of grandpa. Everyone was so happy. At about 4:00p.m Mom and I left to our home in Murrieta. The next day, the entire family returned to the hospital. My grandpa was awake and talking in full sentences. It truly was a miracle. The doctors said they have never been so happy to be wrong. They could not believe it. All the tests pointed to my grandpa’s brain being damaged. My dad even saw all the tests being done and he believed what the doctors had said. Now, my grandpa was talking and seemed to be back to himself.
Two weeks later, my grandpa was let out of the hospital. He is now alive today in Orange County in his wheel chair moving around, talking, and being the exact same person he was before the brain damage, maybe even better. It seems his brain has been rebooted like a computer and he is as sharp as a tack.
I love my grandparents so much. I am glad to say I`m seeing him once a month or more for special occasions. I know my grandpa loves me and I love him. Everyone in our family is so thankful that we wanted to wait, to pray and to have faith that God could make a miracle happen. We do not k now how exactly, but we do know that something special happened to bring my grandfather back from a brain damaged state to being my wonderful grandfather again. I am proud to be his granddaughter and I am so happy he is here today.