The phone rang tonight. As I answered, a boyish voice laughingly said, “Hello? Hello?”
I answered again, this time with the universal sign of welcome in telephone etiquette, “Who is this!”
My eighty-something year-old father-in-law was on the other end of the line, laughing. He gave his name, and said he didn’t think I could understand him. When I asked why, he replied that he didn’t have his teeth in, and he had a hard time understanding himself!
My sweet father-in-law is a wonderful miracle man. He and my mother-in-law have been wonderfully kind and gracious to our family, especially our children. But my father-in-law is an amazing example of God’s provision for care, healing, and recovery.
I first met my father-in-law before he was my father-in-law. Obviously. As I recall, it was a cold February weekend when I drove to Western Kentucky to my girlfriend’s home. He was in a recliner, with a 4-pronged cane, recovering from yet another surgery on a leg injured in a motorcycle accident.
While riding to work one morning, he was hit by a car while turning onto a side street. His right leg was crushed, his ankle a broken mess. By the time I met him, he’d had several surgeries on his leg and ankle. For a time, the physicians were sure he would lose that leg, but the Providence of God offered him care that was not planned by mortals in this life.
My FIL (lazyhand for ‘father-in-law’) was scheduled for yet another evaluation for the removal of his leg at famed Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. While there, a visiting surgeon learned by happenstance (?) of his case, was consulted, and was secured to perform an unusual and limb-saving surgery, including titanium rods and pins, in my FIL’s leg. And then he was gone, on to his next assignment.
My FIL has had multiple surgeries related to his leg. He has survived heart valve replacement and bypass surgery; hip replacement surgery; he has had concrete forced into his spine to bring relief from back pain; he has an aortic aneurysm on his heart that may let go at any beat; and has had brain surgery where he had to learn to talk, eat, and walk again. He has been written about in several medical journals, and is a walking miracle. I have seen my FIL model a quiet strength and determination through all his medial trials.
And now he is joking about not having his teeth in. He has a wonderful spirit, an easy laugh, and is faithful to his church and his family. I have spend a lot of time thinking about my own father in these last weeks of his life, but he is not the only man in my family for whom I have great respect and admiration. I am a blessed man.