Darren Doyle, Editor:
Spoiler Alert: this story contains examples of faith in God, family, and true love. If these subjects don't interest you, please continue at your own risk.
Our world has become overrun with divisive news, information, and rhetoric. It's creeped into our government, our jobs, and unfortunately, even our little county. It's refreshing to pause every once in a while and reflect on the positive things around us, and thankfully in Edmonson County, there are still plenty of those examples.
Wavie and Lynn Skaggs of Chalybeate will celebrate 65 years of marriage this Thursday, July 19, 2018. They are my maternal grandparents, (better known as Grandaddy and Grandmama) and I'm very proud to say that without any hesitation. The couple was married on that date in 1953. They raised five children, all of which still live in Edmonson County. Each of the children raised their individual families here, where most all of the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids still live.
The marriage of Wavie (age 84) and Lynn (age 80) took place at the home of Wavie's parents, Paul and Josie Skaggs, on Beaver Dam Chapel Road by Bro. Rayburn Parker the week after the couple's plan to elope was thwarted by locals. Some opposed the then 15 year-old Lynn (who had just turned 15 a little more than a month before) to Wavie, who would soon be 20. Their marriage has resulted in the explosion of a 52-member family; most of which still gather regularly for Sunday dinners.
On Sunday, June 24, 2018, Grandmama walked across the road to the home of one of her daughters (my mother) to tell her she thought she'd suffered a stroke. She walked instead of called because she didn't want to alarm Grandaddy, who has struggled with dementia for the past two years. With slurred speech and slowed motor skills, family members quickly took her to the hospital. After a series of tests, it was determined that she in fact, had suffered a stroke.
She was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville where it was later discovered she'd suffered a brain bleed in the center of her communication hub. Her motor and communication skills grew worse and on Wednesday, June 27th, doctors shared a grave diagnosis. It was their professional opinion that unless a miracle occurred, she would not recover from her current condition, which was a vegetable-like state without the ability to speak or understand speech, writing, or hand signals. With every attempt to communicate with her, there was no response. Doctors told family members to prepare for permanent, 24/7 assisted living arrangements in the form of a nursing home or rehab facility.
This news was also devastating on another level, as Grandmama is the caretaker of my Grandaddy. Even with a large, devoted family, we just couldn't see him making it without her for very long. He needed her and according to the doctors, we were on the verge of possibly losing both of them.
Her children (my mother, uncles, and aunts) simply did not accept the diagnosis, but not because of denial. They knew God was in control of all things and He was able to see to this. There were times when individual faiths weakened, but one or more members of this family were able to say just the right word, make the right expression, or simply do the right thing that would bring encouragement to the others.
My immediate family and I were vacationing more than 800 miles away and I had already started to plan coming back home. After receiving the troubling news through phone calls and text messages, I called my dad, a man of God who is gifted in saying what always seems to be the right thing. As he expounded the doctors' grim outlook with me, his voice wasn't the least bit troubled. He shared his faith with me and assured me there was no need to come home just yet. That's when he said one of the most profound things I'd ever heard: "Either you believe God will intervene, or you don't."
I'd been taught to trust God my entire life, but I don't ever remember someone putting it so plainly. He followed up with, "if we don't believe that, we need to get to the place where we do. We need to pray." I knew he was right. Prayer had gotten me out of plenty of messes in my life that nothing else could. Why wouldn't it work now? Miles away from Grandmama, I found a private place and prayed. All our family prayed. So did our friends and neighbors. I also believe people prayed that didn't know us. Our church prayed. I'm not sure how many people prayed for her, but it worked.
The next day, she began to speak, point, and communicate. As the day went on, her condition continued to improve. Doctors didn't know what to say. We knew that God had not only heard our prayers, but He answered them. She continued to improve with a few ups and downs and the kids took Grandaddy to see her in the hospital shortly after. As he struggled walking into the room with the help of a cane, he made his way to her bed where they reached for each other with tears running down their faces.
"Love you," he said in a shaky voice. They held each other for what seemed like an hour, and for a brief moment, all was right with the world. Everyone in the room knew that this wasn't the end and there would be more time in their 65 year marriage.
Her improvement continued over the course of the next week and a half. Family members took shifts taking care of the both of them, staying with each one 24/7. Children and grandchildren visited, stayed, cooked meals, cleaned, and anything else that was necessary to see to their well being. Grandaddy's mind was clear and he said on more than one occasion, "Momma'll be home in a few days."
Our church had a baptism scheduled for Sunday, July 15th and not long after she regained her ability to communicate, she began to ask if she'd be able to attend the baptism. Doctors said that she would have several weeks of rehabilitation after being discharged from the hospital, which squashed any hopes of attending. For years, Grandmama has monogrammed the names of new converts onto handkerchiefs, giving them as gifts. She had been able to make some of the handkerchiefs prior to her stroke but there was still several to complete and she was not satisfied that she was told she wouldn't be able to attend. (A local friend of a family member eventually completed the handkerchiefs for the baptism at no charge).
On Monday, July 2nd, she was discharged from the hospital and was moved to Bowling Green into a rehab facility. She asked those in charge of her treatment if she'd be able to leave the facility in order to attend the baptizing and then come back. The facility wouldn't allow leaving and coming back. They told her if she left, she'd have to forfeit the rest of her treatment, which she was actually willing to do, but family members talked her into staying, as it was necessary for her recovery. She only agreed after family members guaranteed she'd be able to watch the baptizing in real time either through FaceTime or Facebook Live.
On Wednesday, July 4th, I sat next to Grandaddy at prayer meeting. Earlier in the day we were told that there was no way she would be able to come home until the following week. A fellow church member asked me, "How is Lynn?" I told him that she was improving, but not wanting Grandaddy to hear that she wouldn't be home this weekend I stopped short.
"Momma'll be home in a day or two," Grandaddy added. I just looked at the church member and shrugged my shoulders. I later told him that it would likely be a week or more, but none of us wanted Grandaddy's hope to be dimmed.
I believe that with God's help, her sheer will and determination to come home, to be with Grandaddy, and attend the baptism led to her blazing through her rehab that week, and on Saturday, she was discharged from the facility and allowed to come home. Another lesson learned: when Grandaddy says something, pay attention...turns out he knows lots more than I gave him credit for. Momma was indeed home in a couple of days.
She attended the baptism with Grandaddy at the Beaver Dam Baptizing facility. She sat in a wheelchair with Grandaddy beside her in a chair of his own. She watched as several new converts were baptized, including two of her own great-grandchildren. She gave a heartfelt testimony at the end of the service of how she was thankful God allowed her to attend. "He knew how bad I wanted to be here," she said.
Some may think all of this is silly, a coincidence, or just simply not true. Some may also feel that it's inappropriate for a news editor to write and publish this sort of article in Edmonson County's leading local news provider. Thanks to this great country, you have the freedom to believe whatever you choose.
As far as my news company goes, I'm going to continue publishing information that I feel impacts our readers the most, and those readers are overwhelmingly made up of Edmonson County residents, and I believe the majority of those readers believe the information in this article.
Thanks to all of you that prayed, wished us well, or asked about us. I'm thankful for my wonderful family, friends, community, church, and that I live in Edmonson County, KY, USA.
My family is no better than anyone else's, and I know of several others that can share similar stories; however, this one is mine and I can speak for myself.
I know that faithful prayer works. This is one of the many examples in which I've seen it work firsthand throughout my life. I just left Grandaddy and Grandmama's house. She had her cell phone in hand, texting family members and he was watching "Fixer Upper." Three weeks ago we were told she wouldn't recover, but she has. It's not a 100% recovery (yet) and there's still plenty of therapy and home rehab she'll need. They will both need the continued help of family members, but on Thursday, they plan to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary at home together, with a home cooked meal, prepared by family.
If you'd like to send them a card, (no gifts please) please mail to:
Wavie and Lynn Skaggs
2537 Chalybeate Road
Smiths Grove KY 42171