Good morning! To those of you efficient souls who set your clocks forward last night, congratulations on your ability to think ahead. To those who forgot that today was "Time Change Sunday," welcome to the future! ;-) I cheated; I set my alarm on my cell phone, so I got up at the right (one hour ahead) time but didn't actually change any clocks until this morning.
The Real Heroes Breakfast Friday morning was a wonderful success. I am so glad we got to go and be a part of that impressive event. Our trip began on Thursday afternoon about 4:00 when we actually walked out the front door. Chad decided to take the scenic route, driving through countryside and viewing God's beautiful creation before officially joining the freeway down toward Portland. Of course, we exited I-5 shortly before the Oregon border and drove into downtown Vancouver. It seems to be laid out much like Washington, D.C., with its many confusing one-way streets and quaint turnabouts that will have a less experienced driver than my husband going literally in circles. I was very thankful that he was not only along for the trip but doing all the driving as I get turned around outside my neighborhood! I am what some would call "directionally challenged." Trust me on this one.......I have wound up driving aimlessly, crying all the while, just trying to get home from a doctor's appointment. If I ever have to take a detour, I immediately begin gripping the wheel, knowing that my day just got a lot worse!!! We were able to find our hotel---the Vancouver Hilton!---fairly easily and parked in front in order to check in. The Red Cross paid for our room for the night (THANK YOU!) and even asked the hotel to waive the $13.00 parking garage fee for us. You know how, after a long trip, your legs are stiff and you find it hard to walk at first? Multiply that for Dale. Chad went on ahead to the front desk while Dale and I took our sweet time getting out of the car and across the foyer to the elevators. Then, upon arriving at the fifth floor, we discovered that our room was down one hall, around the corner, and halfway down the next hall. Oh, well, walking is good exercise, right?! Again, Chad went on ahead with the stuff, and Dale and I made slow progress until we finally arrived at our door. I gave Dale the key card and waited through the three or four shaky attempts to insert the card in the slot before he was able to get it right, causing the green light to glow. We discovered upon entering that the Hilton has normal hotel rooms just like everywhere else. Boy, was I disappointed! Here I was imagining some grand set of rooms with a sitting room, separate bedrooms, and those fluffy white robes hanging on the back of the bathroom door. I'm sure that the more expensive suites (for rich people!) are large and airy and draped in gold and gilt, but our room simply had two full beds, two chairs, a TV on the dresser, and a bathroom. The only addition to this expected comfort was the discovery of a full-length ironing board and iron in the closet. I laughingly told my daughters later, "There weren't even chocolates on the pillow!" I do not want anyone to think I am not thankful for the Red Cross' generosity in allowing us to stay there Thursday night in order to attend the breakfast the next morning. I had simply, once again, allowed my imagination to exceed my common sense! We were pleased to discover that the beds were nice and soft and comfortable and that there were plenty of pillows---something that seems to be lacking in our house. Once we figured out the controls on the remote, we found something to watch on TV. Of course, Dale wanted to watch cartoons all night, but Chad and I quickly vetoed that. We had brought along some snacks like beef jerky and chips and wound up snacking for our dinner. We attempted to get to bed early because we knew we had an early morning (we were supposed to arrive at the breakfast at 6:40 a.m.), but somehow we didn't turn out the lights until after 10:15 p.m.
Friday morning began with a bit of a rush. My husband had asked me to set my cell phone alarm for a reasonable hour, knowing he could get ready in half an hour. What he didn't realize was that was not enough time for Dale and I to get ready. You'd think after eighteen years of marriage.........Anyway, things were a bit rushed. We managed to be presentable by 6:50 a.m. but then still had the long walk down the halls, to the elevators, across the lobby, around the corner to the ballroom, and across the huge room to our table at the front. Soooo, we arrived just after 7:00 a.m. which turned out to be okay as lots of people were still arriving and chatting and moving about. Dale did his best to walk carefully but had to stop frequently and steady himself. When we found our table, we took our seats thankfully. The friendly folks already seated introduced themselves, and we soon found ourselves part of a large gathering of Waste Connections personnel. Their boss, Derek, was the man who would be presenting the Water Rescue Award; even though the rescuers themselves couldn't be there, they would be honored publicly for their brave efforts.
First, the breakfast: a scoop of scrambled eggs, a scoop of "breakfast potatoes," three strips of peppered bacon (yum!), and an interesting-looking item---it resembled a tiny wooden spoon, but it was edible (like a fortune cookie) and had a dollop of blueberry crisp on it. The ten of us at the table kind of looked at it for a while, unsure if it was simply garnish or what. Finally, Derek decided to try it. Once he told us it was edible---and delicious---we all ate ours. It turned out to be the best-tasting thing on the plate. There was coffee and orange juice and water to drink. There was also a bread basket with breakfast breads in it, but somebody forgot to pass it around, so we only discovered it after the event was over! Dale and I enjoyed some, anyway!
After breakfast, the emcees mounted the platform and began the presentations. There were six or seven different categories of heroes being honored: animal rescue, education, professional, workplace, water rescue, etc. Each award was presented by a different person from a different sponsoring company and was prefaced by a video presentation about that individual and why they had been chosen to receive that honor. Each story was touching and truly showed why these people had been nominated to receive the Hero Award. The lady sitting next to me and I were very grateful that there were boxes of tissues on each table; we certainly needed them after some of the videos! If you go online to Southwest Washington Red Cross and click on Heroes Breakfast, you should be able to see part of this year's event. We were able to meet some of the heroes after the breakfast and shake their hands. What an honor to shake the hand of a true hero, and these people certainly are. After each video aired, there would be a round of applause for that person's efforts, and then the presenter would call them to the platform to receive their medal and plaque. (The medal is in the shape of a red cross with their names and the event etched on the front. The plaques are a beautiful clear acrylic with a golden base; their names, the event, and the sponsoring presenters are etched on these. Very nice and very professional.) We sat through each presentation and marveled at the heroic efforts of everyday citizens who simply stepped up when they were needed and did what they could.
Dale's rescue video was last. Derek mounted the stage and said a few words, then turned to the video to tell the story. Suzanne Arnits had told me that they would not need any additional interview footage because of all the national media coverage of Dale's drowning and miraculous recovery. A man named Dan had called me to have Dale speak a few words of thanks to be included in the video. To our shock, Dan had also managed to get ahold of the 911 call that had been placed when Dale was swept out to sea. Imagine, if you can, the near cardiac arrest I had when I heard the actual emergency call about my son's drowning. The man on the phone stated: "Oh, no, they've been knocked off the board. The girl's climbed back on, but the boy is being swept back out. I can't see the boy anymore. (yelling) Nobody go back in there! Everybody get out of there!" I was crying; the lady beside me was crying; I didn't even try to look at anyone else. The video went on to cover Good Morning America's newscast about Dale's hospital rehab. When the video ended and the applause died down, Derek informed everyone that the two men being honored, Doug Knutsen and Eddie Mendez, could not be present due to their training schedule but that Dale Ostrander and his parents were there to accept the awards on their behalf. He asked Chad to accompany Dale to the foot of the platform..........and the entire assembly got to their feet, clapping. They remained standing and offering their applause during the entire time Chad and Dale slowly walked the twenty feet the platform, accepted the medals draped around their necks, and walked back to our table. Only then did the crowd seat themselves. What an incredible honor; words cannot express how deeply our hearts were touched by their display. Photographers were on hand to cover the event and pictures were being snapped. After the breakfast was officially over, a reporter came up to Chad and interviewed him for the next day's paper. We are hoping to get a copy of that paper for our collection. If you go online to The Columbian, you can view the front page of Saturday's edition; there is a nice picture of Chad and Dale walking back to the table. Oh, the emotions rolling throughout that ballroom! The emcees took the podium again, urging people to take out their checkbooks and fill out the donation cards. I sincerely hope the Red Cross garners a great amount of support due to this event. They play such a vital role in our communities. We were able to wait around after the breakfast for a few minutes, during which many people came to our table to shake Dale's hand and tell us they have been praying for us. Dale got his picture taken with one of the honorees, a young man who helped save his friend's life after he fell during their hiking trip. Another lady asked us if she could take our picture as a family. Such kindness and warm thoughts from folks we don't know and will probably never see again!
Chad, Dale, and I drove home Friday morning and arrived at our house around noon. This gave each of us a chance to relax, eat lunch, and even take a nap before life took over again. I had to pick the girls up after school, and Chad needed to be at work by 5:00. Saturday was a lazy day for us. Good thing, too, since Sunday started out kind of rough.
The reason I am writing this now (around noon Sunday) is because, while trying to walk down the stairs to go to Sunday school, Dale had a seizure. It had been three weeks and five days since his last one, and we were hoping not to see any more. This seizure only lasted about 20 seconds but displayed all the same symptoms: arms stiffening, rapid breathing, eyes blinking, inability to talk. Dale was conscious to entire time and could hear us talk to him. When it was done, Chad held him close and Dale began crying. Since Dale was sitting on the step the whole seizure, Chad opted to carry him downstairs to the couch to recuperate. Within a few minutes, Dale began to regain his movement, moving his head first, then his arms and legs. Chad took the girls to church, and I stayed home with Dale so he could rest. He balked at first at the idea of a nap, so I had him sit up and drink some water with his meds. Once I was satisfied they were all the way down, I had Dale lie down again and covered him with a blanket. It took him about 20 minutes to settle into a nap, but then he slept for about an hour. He's awake now and eating breakfast. Things should be back to normal now; Dale will still be shaky and need assistance walking. I'll call the neurologist tomorrow to see if he wants to up Dale's dosage again or just schedule a follow-up appointment. Praise the Lord for all things, seizures included!
John 1: 1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."