The Lima News asked its readers to share their stories of inspiration as we celebrate Christmas today.
They responded, with inspiring, heart-warming and touching stories. They shared their tales of recovery, community and generosity.
We hope these stories reflect the true spirit of this season.
Patricia D’Vileskis, Celina
Twelve years ago, on Nov. 16, 2003, I was assaulted during a robbery. I was hit in the head seven times with a crowbar and left for dead.
I was rushed to the hospital for immediate brain surgery and two titanium plates placed in my head. I was also placed on life support, complete with tracheotomy, tube feedings and my jaw wired shut. I was totally paralyzed on the left side and placed in a coma until the swelling in my brain subsided.
The good news is that I am here today, live independently, cook, bake, walk, talk, multi-task and love to write. I have written three hardcover table books of inspiration, filled with great color graphics, which are part of a series I wrote, “Life is a Celebration.” All three have copyright certs from the Library of Congress. They have inspired many people, and I have donated many of the first one called “Find the Joy” to brain injury rehab units and hospitals.
I suffer from post-traumatic brain syndrome. I was a registered traveling nurse for most of the 20 years I practiced nursing.
I am very happy and thankful for my faith, which surely got me through some real tough places. I am especially grateful for my mom, who sat by my bed every day and whispered in my ear, “Pat, it’s Mom, and you are going to be all right?”
The nurses told me later that although in a coma, I would get restless and agitated when she was a little late and how I would calm down once she arrived. The doctors did not give my family much hope for my recovery, but my mom did. I am still paralyzed on the left side but do not let that stop me from pursuing my goals and reaching out to others with inspiration and hope.
My apartment is warm and cozy and decorated for the holidays. My refrigerator is full. I have a wonderful family and sons that love me. I still have my mom and see her almost every day. She is still my best friend.
My faith grows stronger every day, and I am rewarded with “God winks” and seem to receive them daily. I am surely blessed this Christmas holiday season and have all that I need for today.
• • •
Never stop praying
Cheryl Kohler, Wapakoneta
My son and three daughters surely witness to the statement of “receiving faith at Christmastime.” Our John was not only God’s son, but here on earth for 54 years, a son, brother husband, father and farmer.
His sharing Dec. 25 as his birth date with Jesus displayed his also humble life. John never asked why when, at age of 53, he became a victim of vicious small-cell lung cancer. His vibrant being was overcome, and in four months, struggling through Christmas, his body and soul were released to his heavenly Father.
One of his last statements to us were “do not ever stop praying” to God. As many cancer patients relate, “I would never ask for this trial ‘not’ to occur, as the awareness of what is really important in life is so revealed through the suffering.”
Being a farmer, John’s use of a “bucket of tools” were selected by him as his “tool” against another obstacle in his hopeful healing against this evil cancer. On one occasion when in St. Rita’s Medical Center, he called home to say he was not able to swallow. Imagine all the unbelievable yet possible challenges he and his family were experiencing. John visualized “his best tool” from his bucket being used, and with Dr. Gerad’s chemo and abundant prayer, within a day he was able to swallow — and he never had that side effect again.
His last Christmas, he told us, “Next year will be a better Christmas.” Thankfully, God blessed him with strength to wrap presents Christmas Eve. The complete healing we all prayed for John occurred not here on earth, and believe me, we believed until the end of a miracle. But there’s complete healing in heaven.
Shortly before his death, a month after Christmas on a the only day he slipped into a deep coma, he sat up and said, “I have to go now.” His voice was normal, witnessed by his son and I, no hoarseness. Soon he laid down and peacefully was released to our heavenly Father.
Let’s keep in our hearts the faith of Jesus’ birth!
• • •
Donald E. Ditto, Lima
My husband and I were in line at the Walmart Supercenter store on the east side of Lima. We were buying our monthly groceries.
There was a young lady in line in front of us. She had a lovely baby in her cart, who caught my eye. She paid for her purchases and just stood by the register.
“Am I holding you up?” my husband asked.
And she said no and just stood there. The cashier started putting our groceries through, and when she was finished, this young lady swiped her card and paid $25 on our bill. My husband told her she did not have to do that.
She said, “I wanted to, and thank you for your service and have a wonderful Christmas.”
We were shocked, and my husband hugged her, then she walked out of the store. We want to thank her for her generosity. That let us know there are good-hearted people in the community. She is our angel.
• • •
across the globe
Craig Hoffman, former Lima resident
The Lima Sister Cities Association and the wonderful City of Lima gave me the chance to come to Japan to live and teach English 11 years ago. The experience changed my life. I am forever grateful and indebted to the City of Lima and those people involved with the Lima Sister Cities Association program for giving me that special opportunity.
Recently, I read that much was made of a photograph taken of a young Muslim woman in Lima. I choose not to debate the true intent of those involved with the incident. The City of Lima that I have proudly represented here in Japan for the past 11 years is a loving and caring community that I believe respects and tolerates people of all races and religious beliefs. There are great people living in the Lima area, of that I have no doubt. I count many great friends and beloved family members among them.
Now, I have an international family here in Japan. I returned back to Lima with them this past August for a visit for the first time in several years. My family and I were welcomed by everyone from the mayor right on down to a random stranger in the Lima downtown area. I was proud of the entire Lima community during my visit.
That kind of warm acceptance of my international marriage and my 5-year-old daughter is not found everywhere I go. There are people even in a peaceful country like Japan that would prefer that I was not here. Some of them are not shy in expressing that preference to me. And, I dislike that.
A few weeks ago, an old Japanese man slapped me hard on the back from behind as he scolded me. My offense was speaking English. The old Japanese man said, “You are in Japan. You should speak Japanese.” Sounds all too familiar to you, doesn’t it?
The Japanese strangers around me quickly stood up to the old Japanese man, and he was thrown out of the place. It will not be the last time that someone has a problem with me simply because I am a foreigner here. But, I know there are people in Japan willing to stand up for me. And, I am happy about that.
Too, there many wonderful people living in the City of Lima and in the surrounding area. They would do the same thing for those people being targeted by an out-of-touch and unenlightened, albeit all-too-vocal, minority that lives amongst them. I am glad that in the future, those that will face injustice and discrimination in the Lima community have great people on their side.
I believe a person with a positive attitude can enjoy the feeling of Christmas 365 days a year. And, I do.
• • •
Dean Hays, Elida
The nurse turned back toward my wife, Dana, and said, “You have been given a second chance.” Then she was gone, out of the room and down the hall to visit her next patient.
Earlier that morning, Dana and I were sitting in Sunday school class at church. When I noticed her tea cup was falling, I caught it. I leaned over to put it into my coffee cup on the floor, and Dana fell on me.
I propped her up and saw she was asleep. I woke her up. She dropped her Bible and leaned over to pick it up, collapsing on the floor. Several men from the church helped me pick Dana up and put her into a chair. They carried her into the church kitchen. I was shocked that she could not speak to me. Her speech was garbled, and her eyes had a faraway look to them. I thought she had a stroke.
A nurse and an EMT from our church gave Dana oxygen. This may have saved her from severe lifestyle changes, even death.
The rescue squad was called and whisked us off to the ER. The ride was only 10 minutes, but it seemed like the longest ride I had ever taken. I had a million thoughts go through my mind. I felt lost. The love of my life was behind me. Other than breathing, she was not responding to the EMT. I prayed that God would return Dana to good health. I was now convinced that she had some kind of a stroke.
I called one of our daughters. She called all of our other children. I knew when we all met at the ER that it would be difficult. I again prayed, this time for wisdom, strength and patience. I knew I would need my wits to make decisions for Dana and deal with our children.
When we arrived at the ER, Dana was still not responding. The staff hooked her up to oxygen, monitors and an IV. They tried to get Dana to speak, but nothing she was was understandable. She had a number of tests done, including an MRI and CT scan. The ER staff suspected that Dana had a stroke or a Transient Ischemic Attack.
We had been at the ER for several hours, and there was no change in Dana. The tension mounted as the day progressed and we pondered what the future held for us.
Our children were stressed with worry. Their mother was rarely sick. She was the glue that held our family together. She did it with love and understanding only a mother could offer.
There were many tears, hugs and questions. As we gazed at mom lying helplessly in a bed with no knowledge of her surroundings. I watched our children praying together and encourage each other. I was proud of them. They were strong for me, but I could see the fear in their eyes. We all believed mom would recover. Unfortunately we didn’t know when.
Dana spoke to me for the first time. It was difficult to understand her, but she asked, “What happened?” She asked this question several times that day. It was the third time she asked that I realized she had no idea what I was trying to tell her or that she asked before. She started to respond to commands, even though she had little control of her arms and legs. She was asked to touch her nose with her right hand. She responded by moving her hand to her cheek. She couldn’t touch her nose. The staff said this was encouraging. Even if she couldn’t complete the tasks, she was trying to comply.
Finally late in the afternoon and after seven hours in the ER, Dana was admitted to the hospital. The hospital staff took Dana up the elevator to her room. I had to gather her personal items and caught another elevator. Something happened in the elevator; Dana woke up! When I reached her room, she was trying to talk to the floor nurse. She was hard to understand, but you could make out what she was saying. When I looked at her, you could see she was still confused and scared. Suppertime came and went, and her recovery accelerated. Later on Sunday evening, Dana was around 75 percent back. She still had some trouble speaking, but her speech was much improved. It was not slurred or as garbled. Her eyes were starting to get that old sparkle back.
I answered her around the 10th time of “What happened.” She admitted that she could not remember anything until the elevator ride. I told her that she had lost seven hours of time. She remembered nothing of church, the ER or the ambulance ride. Our children hugged her and told her how happy they were of her recovery.
I took a moment to really look at her, and I knew she was going to be all right. Earlier I had been scared of losing her. We had been high school sweethearts and married for 36 years. I have never told her, but I would have been lost without her.
But our prayer had been answered; God granted us our request. Our children had their mother back, and I had the love of my life back.
We were holding hands like teenagers when the nurse came into the room to do her routine checks. When she finished and left the room, she turned to Dana and said, “You have been given a second chance!” We would find out later how fortunate Dana was.
Dana works at this hospital as a nurse. Our son is a director of a large department. One of our daughters works there as a supervisor in finance. Between everyone, Dana was treated like a queen. She was a perfect patient and in great hands.
Monday was a big day. We waited all day to find out the results of Dana’s CT scan. It was suppertime when the doctor told us that Dana did have a TIA. The CT scan showed spots on Dana’s brain that a TIA happened. A TIA, according to the American Stroke Association, is a “mini stroke that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting effects.” The ASA further said, “that a TIA usually last only a few minutes. TIA’s are a strong predictors of stroke risk.” Dana’s TIA lasted seven hours.
We were disappointed Dana had to stay in the hospital Monday night. It was a precaution. The doctor wanted her to be observed one more night before sending her home.
When I saw Dana on Tuesday morning, I knew it had been wise for her to stay one more night. What a change! When I looked into her eyes, the sparkle was complete. Her speech and motor skills were back to 100 percent. It wasn’t until suppertime that the doctor discharged her. But we were happy to go home. As we were packing up the EMT from our church stopped in to check on Dana. He told me that Dana’s TIA was the longest and worse one he had ever seen or heard. Dana was very lucky; it could have been much worse.
We left the hospital, and Dana had no restrictions. She had to change her diet and take a low-dose aspirin daily.
Dana and I needed to get home and start packing. We had scheduled a seven-day Caribbean cruise. We were leaving in a little over one week. When we booked the cruise, we just wanted to get away. We had no idea how important this trip was for us. We got to experience the beginning of our “second chance” in the most unique way, visiting several exotic islands in 90 degree weather in January. It was the greatest vacation we ever had. It was exciting to experience new adventures together. I couldn’t help think about the memories we were making would last the rest of our lives.
As I look back, I think how the outcome of Dana’s TIA could have been so different. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for granting us “our second chance” to live and love together.