Dear Chad, Kelly, Corey and Bryan,
Once again I was lying in bed and a story popped into my mind and I had to get up to write. Your poor Dad was so tired but he helped me out to my chair anyway.
I know some of you question whether you believe in God and I have, too. But since I’ve been sick and have had time to look at my life more clearly I am amazed at the miracles that have happened.
This morning my thoughts went back to the beginning of your Dad and I. Remember when I told you that Dad and I only dated a few times before we decided to get married? Looking back on it now it probably wasn’t the smartest thing we ever did but it just felt right. I never dated much and only had one serious boyfriend before your dad, so falling in love and marrying your father was almost like a miracle and I never knew why but I never looked back at my decision. The funny thing is that I wasn’t a good decision maker at that time and almost always questioned my decisions but for some reason I didn’t question the biggest decision of my life.
We got married and invited 600 people to our wedding reception but the reception hall only had the capacity to hold 500 people. It was stupid on my part but somehow our guests all fit. Did I mention that I was a poor college student and Dad’s small Navy salary probably put us at poverty level? Yet somehow we paid for that wedding with the help of a $500.00 gift from my parents but looking back I’m still not sure how we did it.
We took off for Baltimore with a $500.00 loan from my Dad because I pretty much spent all of your Dad’s earnings and savings on our wedding. Right before we got married we bought a stereo but had no furniture. Again, stupid. After getting to Baltimore one of the first things we bought were matching gray sweatsuits from K-Mart because we wanted to start jogging together. It was another stupid purchase that we made because we hardly had enough money for food and rent but again we made it work.
Your dad got out of the Navy and we moved back to Muskegon and without a job Mr. Cryderman, the manager at Beverley Hills Apartments, rented us an apartment. Dad got a job at Bofors Lakeway Chemical and a few months later the company went on strike. Again we had no money because our only income was $25.00 a week for strike pay. Chad was about three months old at the time so we signed up for food stamps which helped us buy food, diapers and formula. At about the time we would run out of money your Dad would get a side job and we would be able to pay our bills but it felt like a miracle every time it happened.
Sending you kids to Muskegon Catholic felt like an unachievable financial goal at first so we didn’t do it the first year we wanted to because we didn’t want to start you kids at a new school and not be able to continue. Somehow the second year felt right and we made the move. Again, this was a radical move on our part and you kids were scared to death and sometimes hated our decision but it felt right to us and it still feels right. Every year the tuition would rise and somehow our incomes would rise, too.
When Chad and Bryan were foreign exchange students it was expensive but somehow were able to do it. When Kelly and Corey decided to go to two very expensive colleges, I’m not sure how but our incomes would increase enough to make it work without risking our financial future.
When I decided to retire we were nervous about losing my income but it didn’t hurt us. When your Dad decided to retire people thought we were nuts because he was so young but it felt right and it was right because now he’s able to help me. The timing of making our retirement decisions was miraculous in so many ways.
The decision to write this blog was a crazy decision because I am not a writer but we happen to have Corey, a gifted writer, in our family to help me. And because of all of you I’ll always have amazing things to write about.
Miracles are happening all around us if we just find time to open our eyes and hearts to catch them.
I love you all.
On the day Harrison was born we received a call at 5:00am from Chris telling us that he and Kelly were all settled into their hospital room awaiting the arrival of Baby Ufnal. Mark and I got ready right away and finally made it to the hospital at 10:30 and were greeted by an excited Uncle Bryan outside of Kelly’s room. Mark called and woke up Corey in San Francisco so he could be there, too.
We were also greeted by our friend and nurse Deb Mascarin who, after hearing that Kelly was in labor, came in to work on her day off specifically to see Chris and Kelly through this birth. Deb eloquently explained what the monitors hooked up to Kelly were doing and she told us that Kelly was doing great.
Soon Dr. McDonald, who we had heard so many wonderful things about from Kelly during her OB visits, came in to break Kelly’s water. Dr. McDonald had this beautiful and reassuring smile that let us know that everything was going to be alright. She thought the baby wouldn’t be here until the evening so Mark, Chad, Bryan and I left and waited for a call.
At 3:30pm we received a call from Kelly and Chris saying the baby’s heart rate was declining and that a Caesarean section may be necessary, so we quickly headed back to the hospital. Upon our arrival we were again greeted by Deb reassuring us that Kelly and the baby were in good hands and she proceeded to tell us what would be involved if Kelly had to have a C-section. Minutes later Dr. McDonald made the decision to go forward with the C-section so things started to move quickly.
Before we get too far into the birth let me back up a few months. Kelly asked me if I would like to be with her and Chris in the delivery room and I immediately said yes. I had never witnessed a birth except for the birth of my own children and during those times I didn’t have much of a view. So together Dr. McDonald and Deb tried to arrange things at the hospital so I would be comfortable during the delivery. They were treating me like I was their patient along with Kelly.
Now that Kelly was having a C-section I thought I wouldn’t be able to witness the birth of Baby Ufnal but somehow before I knew it I was getting suited up with my son-in-law Chris to witness the birth of my new grandchild. As they wheeled a teary-eye Kelly into the operating room all I could pray for was a healthy outcome for Kelly and the baby.
As I waited with Chris outside of the operating room I could feel the immense love that he has for Kelly. He was scared but anxious to see Kelly and witness the birth of their first child. The medical team kept Chris and I updated as they prepped Kelly. Everyone on the team was genuinely concerned about Kelly but treated us like we were guests at the Ritz Carlton. Even Mark, Chad and Bryan, who were waiting outside of the operating room with Corey and Bevan dialed in via FaceTime, were treated like royalty.
Since Kelly was doing so well, some of the team members came and got Chris and I. Initially the intern offered to carry me into the operating room if I wasn’t able to walk but then decided to cover my chair and wheel me in. Chris and I sat next to Kelly’s head and held her hand while the anesthesiologist worked next to us. He was so sweet and kept reassuring us that Kelly and the baby were doing great. Kelly’s eyes were so green as she laid there with tears running down her face. My mind flashed back to her being our sweet little Kelly and how quickly the time has flown by and now my baby was having a baby and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be witnessing such a miracle. While all if this was taking place Deb was taking pictures.
After a short time Dr. McDonald said, “I see an ear. Now I see a shoulder.” As we waited patiently to hear if it was a boy or a girl, the doctor asked Chris to announce the sex of the baby. Chris anxiously stood up and peered over the curtain as they were pulling the baby out of Kelly’s stomach and proudly announced, “It’s a boy!” Little Harrison started to cry immediately and all was right in our world. Chris had the honor of cutting the umbilical cord before they handed little Harrison off to Kelly.
While in the recovery room Kelly and Chris announced to all of our immediate family members in person and via FaceTime that they now had a beautiful and healthy little boy named Harrison Mark Ufnal.
Looking back on the day our precious little Harrison’s birth was so well orchestrated because of the love and care we received from Dr. McDonald, Deb Mascarin and their entire medical team. Kelly and I really wanted to share the birth of this child together and this family of medical professionals granted our wish.
Thank you. We will never forget it.
Lately I’ve been chewing a lot of gum because I have a constant tickle in my throat that causes me to cough and gum keeps me swallowing which prevents me from coughing so much.
My sister Deb was over last week and we started sharing childhood stories with one another and the memory of our gum-sharing experience surfaced. Deb is two years younger than I am so we shared almost everything as children; a room, clothes, friends, toys and gum. Deb always chewed her gum softly so the flavor always stayed in it and I always chewed my gum briskly and the gum quickly became flavorless. Since Deb’s gum always had plenty of flavor, for some odd reason she would trade her already chewed gum with me. I know it sounds gross but it wasn’t to us. We’d even save our already chewed gum on our bedposts for weeks and chew it daily before throwing it away.
Kelly is grossed out by gum. Being a nurse she doesn’t really get grossed out by much but when one of her brothers would put their gum on the side of their dinner plate growing up, she would freak out.
I’ll bet now that she has Harrison she’ll probably be able to handle a little chewed gum now and then.
On Sunday after seeing our friend Nancy Bourdo at church I received a text from her that said, “To all…..WHAT WAS GOD THINKING?? i love you all!”
Yesterday I was thinking the same thing as Nancy: What was God thinking? I absolutely loved my life prior to ALS and always felt my mission was to love and bring joy to others. Now all I seem to do is bring sorrow to the people I love the most. My poor brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews feel so helpless and are trying so hard to make me smile.
I think maybe God wants us all to realize and see the amazing love that each person is capable of and how much power we each possess to make life and family gatherings fun and meaningful.
Today my world is much happier because Chad is visiting from Dallas and yesterday we had a wonderful afternoon chatting. And Baby Ufnal is due to arrive today.
I’m so grateful that my world is good again.
Happy Valentine’s Day.