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Every second, of every day, something happens to someone in the world. Sometimes it is for the best, and sometimes it is not. I truly believed that the bad only happened to those who deserved it. The human population lives in their safe little world believing that nothing bad will happen to them. Or at least this is what I believed. Unfortunately, as the saying goes “shit happens.”
On July 31st, of 2004, Judy Kolstad was walking back to the bed from the bathroom. Without warning she fell over, and her head proceeded to land on the floor. During the week prior to this she had complained of flu like symptoms, headaches, and problems with her menstrual cycle. She was taking many medications for these symptoms, and was beginning to feel better. She had been drinking wine the night of the accident, and wasn’t able to fall asleep.
After falling to the floor, her husband, my step-father, came to her aid. and called Buffalo Hospital. She began to experience trouble breathing, and was none responsive to us. Because of the fact that she had been drinking we assumed her fall was caused by a mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs. She was rushed to the hospital where she underwent many tests in attempt to locate the source of the problem. Three hours later they reached the bottom of the list, and came to the conclusion that it may have been a stroke. By this time my mother was in a coma. She was transferred to Mercy Unity Hospital in Fridley, Minnesota. It was there that she underwent neurological testing to try and discover the root of the problem. On August 1st, my stepfather came home from the hospital, where he was discussing my mother’s condition with the neurological surgeon. From the moment he walked into the house, my sisters and I knew something was wrong. He began telling us in a somber voice that our mother had had a stroke. From that moment in time, life has changed dramatically.
Judy was a workaholic, and full of life. She was a strong headed German woman, and I held great respect towards her from the moment I was born. My mother lived for the day, and took pride in all the little aspects of life. She maintained a home, a family, a husband, and a career. Judy had worked as a field rep for a large sales company in the machining industry.
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For the next five days my mother laid there lifeless in the middle of the room. Drugged, poked, and probed, she laid there; the world was passing her by. It is at this point in time when I felt my worst. We were playing the waiting game, and with an impatient family this is not a game we were in the mood to play. With movement on the fifth day we cheered; to witness a transfer from death to life is a beautiful sight. After praying and pleading our family had its heart back. This wouldn’t last for much longer. By day seven, she was responsive, but still highly medicated. My mother understood very well what had happened to her. She was able to open her eyes, but she had lost her peripheral vision. All feeling in the left side of her body had been lost, and it was possible she would never walk again. She even lost her control to go to the bathroom herself. This is what led to the depression. She had lost her way of life, and feared she would never get it back.
Before the stroke, our family spent a lot of time together. Granted we weren’t the “Brady Bunch,” but we managed to get along. My two younger sisters and I bickered constantly, but we still loved each other. We talked to each other constantly and had a great communication level between the three of us. My step father was, and still is, a workaholic. To him it’s all about machines, diesels, Harley Davidson’s, and tractors. Now and then he would have a pretty funny comment on life, but otherwise he pretty much kept to himself. I believe it contrasted perfectly with my mother’s wound up personality. It was a good time in all of our lives, and we all loved each other greatly.
Directly after the stroke, we all knew we had to rely on one another for moral support. We stayed close together, and began to seclude ourselves from all of those who wanted to meddle. Although our neighbors and friends only wanted to help us, we viewed them as outsiders who were only there to give a casserole and a smile for our sake. Why is it when something bad happens within a family everyone wants to fatten them up? Soon we all became secluded from one another. No one talked; we just did our work around the house and kept to ourselves. We would spend many mornings and nights at the hospital, but never together. Then we started to despise each other. We began to argue over the smallest of issues. A family that once was close was now torn apart.
My mother worked her entire life for her dream home. In September of 2001, it was built. Located in Hanover, Minnesota, it was a spacious rambler located in a beautiful suburb. There was an energy surrounding the quaint neighborhood. The neighbors were filled with all of the hustle and bustle of a nine too five lifestyle. The house also was filled with life. With five people living under a roof I came to expect a high energy atmosphere. The summer was the most exciting time. Whether it was a pool party, a pool tourney, or watching the game on the big screen; there was always excitement around our house.
Now a deathly silence fills the walls that once held so much life. It was ironic that from August 1st to August 4th it rained, and a melancholy sky let no sunshine through. After August 4th, there were no parties. The pool was never swum in, and the pool table was never played upon. The souls inside the house were confined to their rooms while an air of depression fell upon the house. What once was a beautiful home lost its appearance on the outside of the house as well. Bushes weren’t trimmed, plants began to die, and the grass would grow thick. The house that was once a portrait of a dream was now a picture of despair.
It has been over two months since my mother had her stroke, and things are slowly getting better. The family no longer fights, the house is slowly coming back to life, and my mother is hustling back so she can move on with her life. Although she has not completely recovered from the stroke, she has gone mobile. She walks with a cane, and has regained some feeling back in her arm. Judy has gained back her smile, and is enjoying the smaller things in life a whole lot more.