It’s Sunday, March 12th and I have over 25 kids plus another 7 or so grandparents ready to paint.   All the kids are seated and excited to get started.   As I am about to begin my phone rings.    It’s one of my brothers so I send it to voicemail.    About 10 seconds later it’s my mom calling.    I immediately send it to voicemail and then my heart starts beating fast.    Within another minute it rings again and it’s my husband.

I know what the call is about before I answer.    I quickly answer in a room full of anxiously awaiting kids and say “it’s here isn’t it… is it for real???”  

“Yes…. it’s time” Bobby says.     I start crying on the phone in a room full of strangers and I say… “please get everything ready and I’ll be there as soon as the party is over and we can drive to Austin!”   He says calmly “I’m already packing.  I’ll have everything ready so when you are here we can go”.

I hang up the phone and look at Pixie and say “Poppy is getting his heart today!!!”   I take a deep breath and then get the audiences attention.    I introduce myself and say “I just got the call after 22 months of waiting that my dad is receiving his heart transplant today!!!”     I’m of course in tears.   I then say “So, as soon as I’m done teaching this fun painting I’m heading to Austin, but I LOVE to PAINT so right now we are going to PAINT!   Whose ready to paint!?”    The kids are excited and of course say yes they are ready!    We start the painting.

I notice a few of the grandparents with tears in their eyes as well.   They understand what’s going on… what this Sunday afternoon phone call meant to me and my family.

We finish the painting with surprisingly only a few times I had tears when one of the adults would mention it and give me a hug.   It was all tears of happiness!

After the last person left I called my mom and dad and they were on their way to the hospital!   Surgery would be happening soon and he was so happy… sad of course for the donor and their family, but very happy he gets a second chance at life!

I tell him I love him and hope to see him before he goes into surgery.

We arrive at the house and Bobby has everything ready!    Our dog Blue has even been taken to his mom’s house so we can leave immediately.   He is such an amazing man.    I can’t believe he’s my husband.   He has everything packed from my heating blanket (I don’t go anywhere without) to cash and even snacks for the car ride.

I’m still in shock that we got the call.    After so many months of waiting… all though I pray every night for my dad to get better and receive a new heart, doubts start to creep in as he continues to loose weight and spend more time in bed.    So the drive to Austin was filled with gratitude!!!   I just couldn’t believe it was all happening… and to MY family.   I felt like we hit the lottery.   We get our dad back!  

We are in Austin.   I tell Pixie to have everything ready.  We want to get out of the car as quick as possible and make it to the room.   We may have time to see him before he heads back.

It was crazy… almost like out of a movie in slow motion.    We round the corner and rush to his room.   Within 10 minutes of being there he is wheeled out for an all night surgery.    I was so happy to hug him and tell him I loved him before the surgery!    When I arrived 2 of my brothers were already there and my sister-in-law and my cousin.   He had a packed house and HE WAS READY!    

The nurse said let’s get a picture.  We were all kind of hesitant, but I am so glad she did.   This picture shows how happy my dad is… I’ve never seen him glowing like that before.    He’s a fighter and you know in this picture he will come back better than ever.

So the wait begins.    We all head to the waiting room and within a few hours my 3rd brother shows up from Florida.   He took a flight as soon as he heard.    Now, if you know my family the all-nighter was spent with tons of laughter and maybe a few inappropriate jokes.    Eventually we all become delirious and things just continue to get funnier as the night goes on.    The only way my dad would expect it!

Finally 7am hits and it’s March 13th, 2017.   The doctor comes in to tell us how it went.    He calmly describes that he takes out the defibrillator, takes out the VAD, takes out the heart….  I interrupt… Wait… “What was in him???”   He says… “Oh, he was on a bypass machine.”   As a visual person all I could picture was my dad laying there with his entire body cut open and NO HEART inside him!!!   What???    

Then the doctor says….  We put the new heart in and it just starts beating on it’s own.   After hearing this I am in shock.   It’s such a miracle that someone took the time to sign up to be a donor and then after the saddest day in their family it becomes the happiest day in ours.   

I am so grateful for that young man that decided to do this.   I’m so grateful for God’s miracle of today’s medicine and how doctors can do this!    I’m so thankful my mom and dad have a future that hopefully doesn’t just involve doctor appointments and resting.   They have a second chance and we all have our dad back!

Many things happened in the days to follow.   Too many to share here and with a clouded sleep deprived brain I may not have remembered it all right.

But I do remember a few days after surgery we are sitting in my dads room.   He is still sedated and on a ventilator.   The nurse comes in and I notice her listening to his heartbeat.    I ask “is it possible for us to listen to his new heart?”   She checks to make sure it’s okay and then says… yes, it’s fine.

This moment is unreal!    It felt like when I first heard Pixie’s heartbeat when I was pregnant.   It was this moment of knowing my dad would be okay.    Yes, he didn’t look so okay, but we have seen him like this before and we know he is a fighter… AND THIS HEART WAS BEATING AT 107 BPM!    It was WORKING!!!!    

We all took turns listening to his new heart that someone had donated.

We listen and know there is a future for him and for us.

We listen knowing there will be a change in our family forever.

We listen knowing that the donor’s sacrifice will not be in vain.

It was a miracle and I couldn’t be more thankful to all the donors out there… especially this one.   I hope one day we have the opportunity to thank his family.

As people prayed for my dad and all my family I couldn’t help but think that this was the BEST SPRING BREAK OF MY LIFE!    It was exhausting, but a wonderful, answered prayer of exhaustion.    I will always remember this Spring Break and the call I received on March 12th.   I will never forget how God gives miracles.   Since then my prayers have been bigger.   They have been bolder.   I’ve always known that God can do anything, but now I’ve seen it first hand.    I’m not putting Him in a box anymore.    I know that He wants the best for us and I’ve seen His work first hand in my family.

I hope that you take time to be grateful and never lose hope.   We waited 22 months for a heart transplant and now we can say that my dad is fully on his way to recovery.   He’s gained 25 pounds back just since March 13th!    I can’t wait to beat him at some basketball and have many more fun times together!     Our job on this earth is to love people, serve others and always choose joy even when times are hard.    I am so grateful to be able to say that we are choosing joy even when times are hard!   I hope this blog helps you with your hard times.   Don’t loose hope.

I’ve also attached some pictures and a video from my little heart surgery in November.     My small little surgery is NOTHING compared to my dad’s, but wanted to share.

Thanks again for the tons of messages, texts, calls and especially all the prayers during this time!    We are extremely grateful!