A car accident that morning has left her husband unconscious, though still alive and hanging on for dear life! ..And it had been a good life -- full of sunshine! Why this! .. Dear GOD! ... Why this?!
She knows she must get to him -- and fast! They had come through too much together. If she gets to the hospital in time, they will come through this awful thing too But she needs all her resources now. In her inner spirit, she petitions her God for mercy and compassion and strength to bring Dr. 'J" back from near death. Next, over time, she contacts her family and friends for their positive thoughts and prayers. She begins her long hard journey to "BRING BACK SUMMERTIME."
Thus begins the remarkable true story of one woman's courage and faith in the face of the bitterest of odds, and one man's miraculous recovery despite doctor's dire predictions. Family, and friends, new and old gather round to offer support, faith and love, as the Gaters' begin their trek back to a normal life. They encounter incredible (and numerous) obstacles from resistant medical personnel and uncooperative rehabilitation staff, to other family misfortunes. Their very survival as a family depends on their determination to hold fast to their hopes and faith.
BRING BACK SUMMERTIME is a soul searching story of a family's struggle for the restoration of physical strength, grace and human dignity. A story that portrays the power and strength of human bonding, prayer and the belief in the power of god to sustain and revive. This family somehow does not allow itself to be thrown even by this devastating accident. They continue their noteworthy accomplishments, as they struggle to deal with the prolonged recovery of Dr. "J". Their story is truly an inspiration to all.
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Bring Back Summertime
By Jeanne Starr Gater
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Jeanne Starr Gater
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBring Back Summertime
It's been a year and yet I cry. It's been over a year of coping, praying, hoping for the best against all odds. I'm a winner in a losing situation, so why do I walk around tonight in hopeless despair, my body wracking with pain, sobbing almost uncontrollably? The pain I've kept hidden in the face of friends, and relatives, and nurses, and rehabilitation people, and insurance people. All of those who've said, "You're a strong woman, we admire you." How proud I've been even of myself. And yet how angry I've become with myself, because allowing myself to feel the pain of a grievous situation is somehow admitting defeat. And I've told myself over and over again: "I remain undaunted." I hear the music in the background, "... the beautiful ones always hurt you every time." And Julius was beautiful; I remind myself that yes, he still is beautiful.
I remember how I told him even after the accident, "Honey it's got to take more than a car and a big Mack truck to turn us around." Somehow, unconsciously, I'm still trying to separate and backlog the painful reality of the day that began an unusual plight for us. Forty–six years old, a Ph.D. in computer science, years of hard work and struggle to reach a point of no return. Surely it couldn't be happening.
I sat there on the side of the bed trying hard to understand the lady on the other end of the phone. "Do you have someone to bring you to the hospital?" My head was clogged and my entire body still cloaked with fever. Perhaps I was still dreaming. I wasn't quite over the flu. I had been moving books all day the day before to the basement, breaking down bedrooms, trying to get a new upstairs guest bedroom in order. Despite admonitions from my nineteen–year old son, Robert, that I should be in bed nursing my cold, I couldn't stop moving the books. When Julius came home, I asked him to move the red leather couch to the basement. He said he had to go jogging first. He was in the best of health and was jogging up to 14 miles a day now. But I look again at the side of the bed and he's not there. He actually is not coming home this morning or tomorrow morning. He's in the hospital. They say he's suffered injuries from an automobile accident- they can't tell me how severe. "Do you have someone to bring you to the hospital?" I heard again. Sure, I can be dreaming because I got up twice this morning already despite my flu and looked at the clock. Seven a.m. - he was supposed to awaken me so I could comb Mimi's hair before she went to her gymnastics class. But I knew they hadn't left yet because I could hear them in the bathroom. I'll just lay down for a little while longer since I don't feel good, then he'll let me know when it's just about time for them to go. So why are these people on the phone asking me to come to the hospital? Julius, what is going on? Julius I love you. Why am I hearing these things and wondering why you are not coming home? But they said come to the hospital. It must be serious if they're asking me to have someone bring me.
I recalled a few weeks before, nervously running to look out the window, thinking he wasn't coming home from work; a big sigh of relief as I did see his brown Colt pull into the driveway. And now I have flashbacks of the Colt-smashed, crumbled, and crunched like an accordion because "an accident" did happen! As I glanced back at Julius' side of the bed, thinking he's not here, I did not panic. Yet days later the memories of my worries, perhaps a premonition, crept in of the impending accident. Too many days I went to the window and looked out the blinds wondering, "Where is he?"
"Mimi, where is your Father?"
"Mom, he's still jogging. You know he's up to 14 miles a day so that's why he's still jogging when it's dark outside."
I don't dare tell him that I keep thinking he's going to get hit by a car while jogging on that path-that will only bring bad luck. So I keep my fears to myself. So why is this lady on the other end of the phone telling me to come to the hospital? "Put on your clothes, Jean, and go," I told myself. "No, don't call anyone, because he's probably all right. As I stand there later watching him fighting for his life, the horrible reality sets in that he's not all right. Why did they ask me if he wanted a television in his room if they didn't even know if he was going to live?
"Robert, Julius has been in a car accident. He's in Beaumont Hospital on 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. Please pick up Mimi for me from gymnastics, while I get ready and then we'll all go to the hospital together. "Instead of a somewhat rational reaction, Robert started screaming, ran out of the house and was at the hospital long before I got there. But still I can't panic. I have to pick up Mimi. I threw on some pants, washed up quickly, and blindly headed for the "Y" to pick up Mimi. I told myself over and over again, "It's all right, it's all right! Thirteen Mile East in Royal Oak. The "Y" was right near 13 Mile Road so perhaps 13 Mile Road will go through all the way to Royal Oak. It dawned on me that I didn't even know how to get to the hospital. A few blocks from the "Y", after I had picked up Mimi, I approached the intersection of 13 Mile and Orchard Lake Road. All I could think was, "Julius, I love you and God, dear God, please let everything be all right. "As Mimi and I sat there waiting for the police clearing the intersection to give us the go-ahead signal, I told her, "Mimi, this may be where your father had his accident." Those scornful words bore reality as I looked up and the picture before me tore me apart. The Colt, our little pony, was on a tow truck in a gas station across the intersection, smashed, wrecked, twisted almost beyond recognition. As I pointed the car out to Mimi, we both began screaming and crying and I quickly rolled my window down to yell at the policeman that "My husband, my husband was in that accident, and that's his car over there-you've got to let me through." He looked at me in slow motion and said, "Are you Mrs. Gater?" I said hysterically, "Yes, yes, please let me through!" He directed me through the intersection. Still crying, I wondered why the traffic was moving so slowly, why the lights were taking so long to change. I reminded myself that I had to pay attention to the lights and get to the hospital safely. I wondered why it was taking me so long to get there. If it was taking me so long to get there, how could he still be alive? His car was smashed so terribly ... like an accordion. As I continued to drive for the next endless twenty minutes, I told myself that it couldn't have been that bad. I just imagined the car was so terribly wrecked. If it had been smashed that badly, they would have never gotten him out of the car. I breathed a sigh of relief. He's at the hospital and he's all right. But my God in heaven how? How did he get hit by a car and a truck and so early on a Saturday morning? So early that witnesses to the accident said there was hardly any traffic out. No reason for the accident to happen. Not on a highway. A clear day. As I watched him now struggling for his life, I asked myself, I told myself, that it must have been meant to be. But Dear God, these things don't happen in real life and not to good people ... and Julius and I considered ourselves 'good people.' Dear God, the doctors really aren't telling me this. What a terrible dream. Someone please help me wake up!
Admissions procedures were over. I've been at the hospital now for over a half hour and no one has really told me anything. Robert and Mimi and I are in the waiting room. We don't know what's going on. The suspense alone is almost intolerable. I walk into the hallway to get some water. A young blonde white doctor in his early thirties approaches me. "Are you Mrs. Gater?" he asks."
"Well, let's find a room where you can sit down."
As we walk briskly, I'm concerned, he knows I'm concerned-why doesn't he tell me something, something!
"I'm Dr. Tigel."
"Yes, Dr. Tigel, how is my husband?"
"Not so good I'm afraid. Let's go in here."
"Not so good" ... rings in my head. My legs nearly go out beneath me, but again this doesn't happen in real life and I'm not easily upset. Not just by some simple words, "not so good."
"Sit down Mrs. Gater." "Your husband suffered some very nasty injuries and also a stroke. We're trying to piece it all together."
"But you say not so good." I'm thinking I'm still very much in control, I'm not, I refuse to fall apart. I'm thinking ... injuries, bad injuries, a stroke.
"What are his chances? What are his chances for survival?"
"I'm afraid less than fifty percent."
"Doctor, please, I don't care what you have to tell me. I don't want to hear anymore. I just want to see him, and I want to see him now!"
"Mrs. Gater, before you go into the emergency room I want to warn you, you're not going to see a very pretty picture."
"I don't care, I want to see him now, please."
Dr. Tigel politely escorted me to the emergency room and Julius– -my Julius-laid there on a table, fighting for his life. Why was he on a table like a slab of open meat? He's definitely not resting comfortably. Of course he can't rest-his whole body is traumatized. All the folks around the hospital, right there in the emergency room ... seem to be insensitive to the situation. There are other emergencies in the room. If he's fighting for his life, then what are 'they' doing to help him? Don't they realize that once his life is gone, he is no more ... my husband is gone! He's not a slab of meat, and he doesn't deserve to die.
In the next few minutes I hear doctors describe his injuries: broken hip, fractured ribs, collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, stroke, blood pressure over 200. "We may have to operate to save him!"
"May have to operate! I retort. "But if you don't have to operate ... if you don't have to operate? I want you to know that my husband is a good man ... he really is a good man!"
"But Mrs. Gater, we're doing all we can to save him!"
I wasn't hysterical. I wasn't crying and I did not overreact when I saw Julius fighting for his life. Somehow, though even without all the medical facts, I knew my husband, my beautiful Julius, could not withstand an operation. I watched him with his one hand and arm flailing in the air, his eyes staring fixedly towards the ceiling, and I thought "Dear God ... please he's in your hands and your hands alone."
"Dr. Tigel, I want my daughter to see him."
"Mrs. Gater, that wouldn't be wise."
"She must see him," I insisted.
Reluctantly, he said: "Okay."
I rushed back to the waiting room. Though Mimi was only nine years old, she was a very bright and beautiful little girl, and I knew she would be strong. I told her, "Mimi, when you go in there to see your father, it's not going to be a pretty sight, but please, I don't want you to pay any attention to that. I just want you to tell him that you love him. And I want you to tell him that he's got to pull through this-that he can do it-that he has to get well because he's got to see you perform in the Olympics in four years."
My Ms. Mimi held my hand tight as we walked back into the emergency room. She spoke quietly to her Father. Though he still remained unconscious, I know he heard her. "Daddy, Daddy I love you. Daddy, you have to get well. Daddy, you're going to be all right. Daddy, don't forget you have to see me perform in the Olympics in four years."
Dr. Tigel then said Mimi had to leave. As she left the emergency room she repeated, "Daddy I love you. You're going to be all right. Daddy I love you." From that moment on we filled whatever remained of Julius' conscious spirit with our love and with our bequest-please Julius we're not ready for you to leave us-despite the odds. As I watched him lay on that table groping and clinging for life, I felt he could only survive with our help. Our spiritual love and prayers were all that could keep him in our world at this point. As I left the emergency room, I searched for a telephone. My strength and composure were leaving me. I tried to pray, but I couldn't-and something said: "Call Pauline." By now I couldn't keep the tears back. The nurse at the station offered me the use of their phone. I said I had to call long distance. She offered to dial the number for Mother. Thank God, Pauline, Mother, was at home.
"Mother," I sobbed, Julius has been in a terrible accident. He got hit by a car and a truck. The doctors have given him less than a 50 percent chance to make it. Mother, you've got to pray for him-you've got to get all the Saints to pray."
Mother, after a gasp or two began praying right there over the phone. "Pray with me, Jeannie. We have to bind every evil spirit and surround Julius with the 'blood of Jesus.' Jesus will save him." Mother prayed for so long that as my tears flooded my face, I was startled as I could only think that I'm talking long distance, but I've got to make another long distance call to let his mother know. The nurse dialed Lila's number in Chicago for me, too. "Mom, I cried, "Julius has been in a terrible car accident. Please, I want you to pray for him because I love him so much, and I don't want him to die." I could hear Mom screaming on the other end of the phone and the phone drop. She picked it up again and tried to sound strong for me. "Okay, Anne, everything is going to be all right."
I told her like I told Mother, "He's in Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. Mom, please pray. I have to go now."
I didn't have the strength to call anyone else. I went back to the waiting room and watched Robert cry. Though he was 19-years old and Gater's stepson, he sat there citing all of Julius' virtues; and the fact that no one like Julius should have been in an accident. If anything, it should have been him in there in that emergency room, not Julius, because Julius was too good. Why do bad things always happen to good people? The good always die young, you know. If this could happen to Julius-a man who was always smiling, who was always going out of his way to do things to help others, who didn't cuss, fuss, gossip, smoke or any of the really terrible things that you associate with 'bad' people-then my God, this could happen to anyone! Then why, why didn't it happen to someone else?
I sat there for what seemed like an eternity-numb, waiting to hear something else. Thinking only that he has to have a miracle and God will grant him that miracle because he deserves it. We deserve it. I looked up and Aunt Marion and Uncle Wilbert were there. Mother must have called them for me; she probably knew I wouldn't think to do so. We did have a few relatives in Detroit we stayed in touch with since our move from Chicago only three years before. As Aunt Marion and Uncle Wilbert tried to offer some consolation, I told them as much as I knew but more consciously I felt I had to focus my spirit and my thoughts on Julius. I somehow had to give him my strength. I heard some of their words, but I nearly jumped when I overheard someone say the doctors were on the phone trying to make a decision as to whether or not they would operate on Gater. I also heard them say they had decided to move him to 'intensive care' and nix the operation. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief because somehow I knew he still, still had a fighting chance-'without' the operation.
Dear God, you're telling me now, somehow I know that he will survive, that your tender mercies surround him if we believe, if we believe in You, You will bring him through. I offered a silent prayer of thanks. I moved from the emergency room to the fourth–floor intensive care waiting room. As more of our family and friends began to arrive at the hospital, and as the phone calls began to pour in, I thought ... "Julius will live." They tell me later that I did not cry, that I was not visibly upset. And it wasn't because I wasn't upset-it was only because I was forced to function in a positive spirit and that spirit was keenly focused on the next thread of 'good news.' Aunt Joyce arrived, and as she watched Julius in intensive care still flailing and fighting for his life, she asked me if she could pray for him. "Yes," I said, "of course, please do." I watched her pray, and I prayed. I did not have time for tears, only time for compassionate and sincere belief in the fact that my prayers would be, yes definitely would be answered, because, yes, Julius deserved to live.
Excerpted from Bring Back Summertime by Jeanne Starr Gater Copyright © 2011 by Jeanne Starr Gater. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love reading life stories and memoirs so I was quite interested in reading Bring Back Summertime. In Bring Back Summertime the author Jeanne Starr Gater takes you through her life before and after the accident of her husband, Dr. Julius Gater. From his first hours in the hospital, that later turned into weeks, and later after his transfer to a rehab and nursing facility. Mrs Gater shares her pain, agony and most importantly, her fight for the life of her husband. From the very beginning, Mrs Gater never gives up hope and her prayers are answered as her husband finally opens his eyes while in the hospital. But that is only the start as now Dr J. Gater has to learn again like a newborn, how to swallow his food, speak and walk. Mrs Gater takes you on this long journey of her life that does not end once she brings her husband home. Dr J. Gator still needs around-the-clock care and she struggles to manage that while trying to bring in some income for her family. With the help and support of friends and family, but most importantly God, Mrs Gater stands strong and keeps a constant vigil on her husbands care while he continues to slowly make progress month after month. I really enjoyed reading this book and Mrs Gater is a conscientious writer with a purpose. She makes sure to get out all those fine details of her husbands progress. My only problem with this book was that I felt it was a little long and drawn out. Something tells me that it was longer and she had to shorten. I am sure she has a lot more to tell and I can only imagine what other situations she had to deal with when it came to her husbands crisis and his care. Even so, this story is a true inspiration and I was pleasantly surprised by the photos of her family in the back of the book which gave this book more substance and helps the reader establish a more personal connection.