Sometimes we feel or hear faint whispers that give a sense of direction, but we don't pay attention to them, for various reasons. Maybe we underestimate our ability to hear. Maybe we just don't want to hear. In the case of the story I'm about to share, it would appear as if my Mother really loved doing what she was doing and didn't want to stop, in spite of a faint whisper she was hearing.
I've been sharing extensively the impact the death of my brother, Nathan, had on our family. Our story doesn't end there. As you'll begin to see, there were many more struggles ahead for my Mother—which continued to rock our world, and I think that if she had heeded a whisper, a feeling she had, the next phase of our lives could have been very different.
I'm not in any way pointing a finger, because we've all had those times when we don't heed a warning we have. I just share it as part of our family's story.
The story from Bertha Sollenberger Crider Heisey continues:
"We ended up selling Willow Springs Farm and moving to a farm near Newville...Mt. Pleasant Farm. It was much larger and required more from us. One year, around 1970, to help make ends meet, I took on the job of driving a school bus. My route took me back towards the mountain on many narrow roads. Oh how I loved driving the bus and learning to know the children! I taught them Sunday School songs. One time, we got stuck in a snow drift...and the children said, "Let's pray, let's pray!". (I, Frances, have fond memories of sitting on a metal box of some kind right behind my Mother's bus driver seat. I enjoyed going with her as we picked up the children.)
At some point I began feeling like I should stop driving the bus, but I didn't want to. I liked the job and the extra income. I kept on.
And then, in January of 1971, about a year after I had been driving the bus, I had no choice to but to give it up. I was diagnosed with viral meningitis. For adults this is often fatal, and I was very seriously ill. But, I recovered.
Several months later though, I had symptoms of pounding head pains, lack of balance, distorted vision and taste. I remember working in the garden, (once I felt good enough to do that), I was down on my knees and there was an awful thumping in my brain.
By the beginning of 1972, those symptoms were so severe that I could not get around or take care of myself. Five weeks of tests and observation in two different hospitals—I was finally diagnosed with Hydrocephalus - which basically means "fluid on the brain". It was thought to be caused by scar tissue which formed when I had the meningitis, thus blocking the normal drainage of fluid from the brain. But the doctors knew what to do—a mechanical shunt would regulate the fluid in my head by way of a tube that would go from my brain to my stomach. Three openings were made, the shunt and tube were installed, and the operation was a success. My hair grew back slowly and I began a long road of gradual recovery that took about two years.
I cannot begin to tell you the extent of the generosity given to my family and me during those years of illness and the long road to recovery. I feel indebted to so many people—the church community, neighbors and our extended family—the meals that were brought in, the help and support that was given on so many levels, the cards and flowers sent, the visits made, the prayers that were offered. We witnessed first-hand just how far people will go to help."
Next week, I'll share how this experience impacted her and our family. I'll also share a time in my own life when I didn't heed a whisper I was hearing.
We can all learn from these mistakes.