Flirting with death opens your eyes

I don’t remember the last time I wrote a column, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of a year or so ago. That’s about the amount of time I spent getting used to my backside on hospital beds or trying to seem busy while recovering from some other medical setbacks.

It started last April when a bolt of pure pain shot through my head as I was competing in a round of golf in American Falls. I told my partner, Shane West, about the pain, apologized since he was my partner, and said I might not be finishing that round. After two more swings at the little white ball I decided I’d had enough.

Shane loaded me up and helped me get to my pickup, and from there I managed to find my way home. He went back and finished the round, but was unsuccessful when he found out playing one against groups of two isn’t very easy.

I sent my wife a cell phone message asking her to meet me at home and take me to the hospital. When I got home, though, I realized I couldn’t wait, so I drove myself to the hospital. Other than sending her another note asking her to meet me there instead, that was about the last thing I remembered for about two months.

The helicopter ride to University of Utah Medical Center, the assistance of all of the fine staff there, as well as those who arranged to get me there from American Falls, was all just a blurry haze.

I didn’t even remember the doctor in Salt Lake City who cut, prodded and sewed to bring me all back together. Just bits and pieces of memory floated in occasionally, but sometimes, I’ve been told, those memories of mine never really happened.

The doctor and his support staff were great to Debbie and the boys I’m told, but as upbeat as they were, they didn’t have great expectations for me to make it after suffering three aneurysms, when one is usually enough to do you in. So they were okay with the fact I couldn’t remember them. I met them later and they were more surprised than I was, that I was actually around to do that.

During rehab in American Falls, I had great respect for the people trying to make me complete. They also told me I was a bit of a miracle just for surviving. I thought all along, though, that credit for my survival was much more about those watching over me, rather than anything I did.

The support of my wife and two sons, driving back and forth to American Falls when they could, and sleeping in chairs next to my bed when they couldn’t, also makes me appreciate life so much more.

I’m well on the mend now, except for my golf game needs a lot of work, but I needed to put a few of these thoughts together.

Thanks to all who came and visited in Salt Lake City or American Falls when I returned. Just because I often don’t remember your visit doesn’t mean it wasn’t very important to me. And thanks to those who created and participated in fundraisers that helped Debbie and I immensely. And special thanks to my boys: Robert, who rarely left my bedside the entire time; and Preston, who has now taken over a large part of the management of this newspaper.

Preston has started writing many of the columns that I should have been doing, and I plan many more, but his words have been so similar to mine I don’t feel the need is as great as it may have been otherwise to get things said.

My brother Kelly and I have seen changes in our printing business, which has in turn created changes in our newspaper deadlines and publishing schedule. Unexpected staffing changes have also had an effect. But we will persevere.

The biggest change for me, however, is the opening of my eyes to the fact I have very good staff and family. The newspapers continue to be published. The quality remains closely the same. And I’ve decided it might be time for me to pass those reins over. Preston has proven himself very capable to carry through the family tradition more than 50 years in the making. And as long as I can keep Debbie working, I’m planning on spending more time getting that golf game back in shape.

Thanks for reading!

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