Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lessons Still Being Learned

I don't  want this blog to be a place where I dwell on my mom's accident. However, today is the fourth anniversary of her accident, so I thought it was appropriate to share this story. | Lessons Still Being Learned 

It seems like only yesterday that I got a phone call from my neighbor letting me know that a tribal police officer was in our apartment building looking for me. I was living and teaching on the Pine Ridge Reservation at the time, and it was the day before inservice was supposed to start. I had been at a potluck at the school and had forgotten to bring my cellphone with me. She put the police officer on the phone, and he instructed me to call dispatch, who gave me a number to contact my Uncle Pat. Pat told me that my Mom and sister, Michaela, had been in a car accident and that my Mom was being airlifted to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls.

"I'll drive to Springs, so I can be with Michaela," I told him.

"I, uh, think you should be with your Mom," he said.

It was at that point that I knew it was bad.

My parents had recently moved back to our hometown, Wessington Springs, from a small town in the Panhandle of Nebraska. Kyle was between the two towns. Some of my parents' friends planned to meet me and take me to Sioux Falls. I was pretty shaken up, it had started to rain, and I think the last thing anybody wanted was for another accident to happen.

The following months and years have pretty much been a blur. In January of that year, doctors at the Transitional Care Unit at St. Mary's Hospital in Pierre, where my mom had been moved a few months after her accident, diagnosed my mom as being in a persistent vegitative state. By the end of March, though, she had made enough progress to be moved to a rehabilitation facility in Omaha where she relearned how to talk, eat, and do other basic tasks. During the course of the past four years, my Mom has never ceased to amaze me. She continues to seek out new challenges and conquer them.

Now, she's living in a nursing home in our home town. I know that there are times that she gets really frustrated with her situation, and I don't blame her. I couldn't imagine living in a place where most of the residents were nearly twice my age.  I hope she understands that she's truly been an inspiration for me, my family, the students she taught over the course of her nearly 20 years in education, people from our community, and people we've never even met.

I included a link to the story a regional news station did about my mom. The story focuses a lot on the importance of wearing your seat belt. This was a really important lesson I learned from our experience. (I was definitely the type who almost always wore my seat belt on long car rides, but I very rarely wore it on short trips to run errands, etc.) However, the lessons I've learned from this experience go well beyond wearing my seat belt. She's taught me to value my family and to remember to say "I love you," to keep fighting and to never give up, and to remember to take chances and seize each day.

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