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Whole-hearted Praise

October 11, 2016
By Shasta Kaselak - Mommy Moments , OVParent

In June, I walked into my dad's room in the intensive care unit to find him sleeping in the chair next to his bed. I was relieved for a second; he had just been through open-heart surgery and hadn't been sleeping because of all the beeping monitors. I quickly realized he wasn't asleep. I hurried over and stooped down to find him slumped over, half his face drooping, eyes fixed and cloudy, and unable to speak. A stroke. I knew immediately.

That was the beginning of a long summer. My mom and I slept for weeks on tiny benches in the hospital waiting room, afraid to miss the doctors' morning rounds.

My dad was in a place no one wants to be. The No. 1 heart hospital in the country couldn't figure out how to heal his heart. The first hospital stay lasted 22 days. After that, there was one more stroke and two more hospital stays.

I saw my kids every other day. I'd drive 40 minutes from the hospital to my house, ask them about the day they spent with friends, tuck them into bed, and drive back to the hospital to sleep on the waiting room bench. I think I kissed my husband before jumping back into my car. It's all a blur of exhaustion now.

At one point, my pastor visited the ICU. After his visit, I walked him to the elevator and explained to him that my mom was watching over my dad and I was watching over her. She wouldn't eat or take a break from his bedside if I didn't insist. He asked, "Who is watching over you?"

I hadn't thought about it. But it didn't take long for me to answer, my friends, my acquaintances and some people I wouldn't have expected rose up day-after-day to overwhelm me with love and support.

On the day of surgery, four men from my dad's church drove six hours round-trip to pray with my dad. That same day, my son's Sunday school teacher offered, actually wanted, to take all three of my children swimming for the day.

Then day after day friends took meals to my husband so my family would have a hot dinner. They took my kids on a moment's notice. They didn't just help once and check it off their lists. Many helped over and over.

They gave me the gift of time with my parents. I hadn't spent that much time with them since the last summer I lived at home during college. I sat at my dad's bedside, played his favorite hymns on my iPhone, and my dad, my mom and I sang together with tears rolling down our cheeks. My friends allowed me to be free to experience those precious, unforgettable moments.

It's fall now, and my dad is healed. The No. 1 heart hospital in the country made his heart whole again.

My heart is whole, too, full with gratitude from people who wanted to help.

Shasta Kaselak, a St. Clairsville native, lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with her husband, two sons and daughter.



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