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10/29/2016 Latest post:
Updated below in celebration of one year after!! A bit of Green Team history! 😍💖 Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement for Otha, Paula, Caleb and Chloe. Thank you for visiting.
Our hearts will always be so grateful to Michelle Marroquin and Susan and SEAS team of angels who started this site after Otha's stroke. When I texted Michelle one day to get her an update and she had NINE children in her home, I knew it was time to learn to add journal entries. 😍Each time I added an entry, I felt a tug to write more of Otha's story, our story...I wanted this part of our story here for our children .
God Winks by Paula Green Almost forty years ago, God answered my college girl's prayer for a spiritual man to walk with me through life as children of God. We were in south Louisiana and it was 1976. Otha was the perfect package of the man of my prayers: intelligent, funny, prayerful, respectful, kind and loving, tall and strong, genuine and honest, full of dreams and vision and adventure, and, most of all, seeking God and to walk in His Ways. It seemed God smiled and winked saying, "You didn't mention he should be white!" Otha, you see, the treasured only child of his proud parents, is African American and I am white in a part of our wonderful country that noticed these things.
The story of how our friendship, our brother-sister relationship, grew and survived the challenges of that time in our history is really another story. God led, we listened and as we both completed college and stepped into our futures, we found our paths crossing in a place and at a time where we realized that we were each the person we wanted to journey through life with. Our beautiful church wedding in 1980 with a joyful reception hosted by the members of our close- knit Awakening community was the powerful outpouring of a sense of God saying to us, "I've GOT this!" And we imagined a warm wink and smile.
Otha came to call those special moments "God Winks" and there were many over the thirty-seven years we have shared, in times of great joy as when our children were born fifteen & twenty years into our marriage and in times of profound heartache when God our Abba Father is our only comfort as when two other babies were nestled below my heart but not destined to be born and raised and held, loved ever as much as Caleb and Chloe. There was the time our entire yard burst into fall bloom with purple, the color of HOPE, everywhere within days of when Otha's rehab position was deleted at the hospital where had he had worked for five years. There were perfectly seeminglychoreographed people and events when we learned Otha had renal cancer in 2009 and we had a deep peace that we were in God's Hands, for example, the interventional radiologist performing lung biopsy during one scary season with the awful word " metastasis" being thrown around...she recognized Otha as the guy with the great voice who sings at the SEAS 7 pm Mass she attends and later we heard from other Physician friends that she is the best of the best; she , "happened" to be on duty the day O went in for biopsy! There was the aloud and clear "I'VE GOT THIS" in the wee hours of November 13, 2012 as I lay in ICU having just been told I had had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, bleeding deep in the brain...what I heard seemed so real and audible, I thought it was Otha until the nurses assured me he left for Living Will papers and would be back soon. Caleb was a college freshman and Chloe was eight grade. I felt enveloped by a peace that does indeed surpass understanding and His Thoughts and His Ways are truly beyond our comprehension. I pondered this all as I was able to go home for months of rest and quiet. Why had I been blessed with a happy ending, no notable residual deficits, able to go back to work in 5 months?!? "God Winks" were always very real reminders that GOD KNOWS where we are and we never journey alone. We felt His Presence and care as we faced my cancer diagnosis and the deaths of both of our dads.
( You can't make this stuff up...both of us getting a cancer diagnosis and serious brain issues?!? I think we've done a number on the family health history for our children! But hopefully and more importantly, the little prayer we'e instilled in the, "God, be with me" will carry them through wherever life takes them.)
"Lord, help me remember that. nothing will ever happen to me that you and I together can't handle" are the faded words on a little plaque I've carried around since college. I do not understand why the bad stuff happens and pain and difficulties are allowed and I know every story doesn't end with our idea of a happy ending. Those times of darkness invite us to choose to see ourselves as seeds not buried to be forgotten but planted, yes in dark heaviness for a time, yearning for light, but with expectant hope that growth is happening and we will see the light again and His work in us will bring us to a " flourishing finish".
As life unfolds we are given opportunities to grasp and process the simple life-giving truths again and again. Our time was Otha's sudden stroke October 27, 2016 after he worked Special Olympics in the morning, finished his day as lead Physical Therapist in NEISD public school district, having an episode of dizziness midday then went home for a long walk with me and our dog and grilled burgers for dinner. Within hours he had been taken from home by EMS, diagnosed with right-brain ischemic stroke, given "clot-buster med" then determined to have been in the unfortunate 4% who have adverse bleeding effects from the drug, entubated and on a ventilator barely responsive with bleeding in multiple places in his amazing loving brain. I looked with indescribable heartache at the faces of our children, Caleb beginning his career after college, and Chloe starting her senior year with big dreams ahead, both still so much needing the strong dad Otha had always been. I felt God's peace as I affirmed that nothing can touch them unless filtered by the hand of God and He would use all for their good and His Glory. When the doctor, " Grim Reaper" said there was no good news, I reminded him that WE DO HAVE GOOD NEWS in every dark night, that God's Spirit in each of us is stronger than anything going on in our bodies. His Power in us will do more than we can ask or imagine! The journey has been long and hard. Otha spent two weeks at St Lik's Neuro ICU then two weeks at Kindred ICU until weaned from the ventilator. November 28 began a nightmarish time when Otha was transferred out of ICU to the floor, not able to move and hardly responding. (I wrote a LOT about this in Caringbridge journal entries!!)
Dec 20 we were given an early Christmas gift with Otha being accepted and transferred to Warm Springs Med Center, a series of powerful God Winks with therapists Otha had known for years speaking up on his behalf to convince Warm Springs that he was indeed "rehab material" and not a nursing home candidate as appeared by his inability to move. (Again, so many amazing things happened on a daily basis, most written about in journal entries.). Love was poured out, God's Spirit moved in untold ways, His Light was bright in room 318 in Otha's determination and in the loving friends who came and went, each bringing something special, supplying Otha's needs as only God can orchestrate. June 10 we brought our Big One home dependent on us for all of his care, with trach persisting and threatening the magnificent voice that blessed so many, with lots or rehab work ahead but God winks encourage us!