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Linda Beck column

Waiting … my least favorite thing to do. Patience … I don’t have enough of it. This is especially true when it has to do with one of my loved ones while he is suffering.
Some of you may remember the stories I wrote last year that included my younger brother, Michael, 52. Michael had lost his job at Freightliner and had free time to spend with me. He became my gardener and we had a wonderful time working and playing in the dirt together. We discussed and made plans for improvements to the yard.
He took me around to the garden shops and I took him out to eat when we were too tired to cook. Sometimes we argued over how to do this or that and other times he said I was just as bossy as I was when he was a little boy. I reminded him that he is just as spoiled as he was back then. It was the best time we had since we were children.
And now as I write this, I’m sitting in the ICU waiting room at the hospital where we both were born, the same place he has visited me so many times, and where I have never had to visit him.
My Michael who was so healthy last summer is now suffering from a stroke and some other circumstances. He got sick back in December; he had no health insurance, no job and no money when his unemployment ran out. He avoided going to the doctor because of the expense and discontinued some of his needed prescriptions because he couldn’t pay for them. The stress he has been under left him susceptible to poor health.
He developed a severe cough and when he couldn’t stop coughing, he would get sick on his stomach so he got tired of trying to eat. Finally, about mid-January, he had no choice but to go to the ER and was told he had pneumonia. My sister and her husband had his prescriptions filled and we begged him to go to bed and rest.
Michael was still looking for a job and keeping appointments in an effort to keep from losing his home. His wife is unwell and not able to work either. Things have been very rough for them for quite some time and now are getting worse.
It’s very difficult to sit by and watch someone’s life caving in around them. If it were not for his six grandchildren (and one on the way), I think he would have lost his will to live.
Mike and I have been very close since my husband died 15 years ago. We have shared our hearts by phone on many long lonely nights and he has been there for me through all the ups and downs. Mike gave me my first study Bible after Joe passed away and he wrote me a message that I will always treasure:
“I love you and thank God for the opportunity He has given us to become so close spiritually. You are a blessing and inspiration to me. Thanks for being a truly ‘great’ big sister. I hope that the hours of joy, comfort and peace this Bible brings will be very special times of personal worship for you.” Then he quoted this scripture (Jeremiah 3l: 3-4): “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.”
How many people would have picked this verse to write in the foreword of my Bible? How many of you can see the personal message that was there for me? I stood up from my wheelchair long enough to embrace him and remind him that my love for him is as everlasting as God’s love for us.Now I wait to see what the results will be. We are unsure exactly what happened. His wife found him on the floor too weak to get up. She and their son put him on the bed and discovered how his eye was drawn and he was unable to move his left side. He was moaning and appeared to be in a great deal of pain.
An ambulance was called and delivered him to the emergency room. The doctors said he had a stroke and possibly some heart damage and other tests were being done as I wrote this. He was admitted to the ICU on Friday night and has since been put on a feeding tube. Now we all sit wanting answers and waiting … waiting …waiting.
Postscript: Michael J. Koontz is well-known throughout Rowan County as he has been the minister of music at several Baptist churches, including Enon, Calvary, Milford Hills, Trinity and others. He has a beautiful singing voice but right now his speech is slurred. His mind is very alert, however, and he recognizes everyone by name. He has been writing notes very neatly with his right hand and his only complaints have been severe headaches and not being allowed anything by mouth.
He is so thirsty but he gets strangled and fluid could go into his lungs and cause the pneumonia to get worse. He begs for water and then asks us not to make him beg. It is ripping my heart out to say no to him. Mike just doesn’t understand the danger. He will soon be transferred to a long-term rehab facility and only God knows what the answers will be. Please keep him and our families in your prayers.
Linda Beck lives in Woodleaf.

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