In February, this year, Paul H. suffered a massive head bleed leading to an extended stay at Memorial Hospital in Springfield. After some weeks on mechanical ventilation and tracheostomy, Paul didn’t surprise his wife Reenie by stirring, but may have surprised a doctor who offered her little hope of recovery.
The Grace on Wings team had been following Paul’s progress for a month in Springfield, IL where he had participated in an Elvis impersonator competition before all arrangements fell into place. Our mission was to help Paul and Reenie go home to upstate New York for Paul’s rehabilitation.
On a cool sunny spring day, our crew met Paul and Reenie in their Springfield hospital room. We gathered up Paul, the papers, the stuff of living in a hospital room, then paused on the airport tarmac where pilot Hal offered a brief prayer in the sunshine. Paul was a bit restless on the plane but he offered a “thumbs up” occasionally.
In-flight, we learned from Reenie that many of Paul’s fans were following our mission. She told us that Paul was a practicing Roman Catholic and that she held strong convictions that if God were ready to call him home, that was OK, but she was going to fully support her husband’s hopes and recovery.
She offered up their life’s story and Matt and John shared a bit of how they came to Grace on Wings. She said that Paul had once met Elvis backstage at a concert and that the musical King had told him just ‘to be the best you there is.’ Paul’s life was full of small kindnesses to the many fans of Elvis and Paul taking photos and offering hugs.
After landing in Albany, NY we took Paul and Reenie to the rehab facility where there will be much work to do. Keep them in your prayers as their road ahead is long and will surely be rough.
Chief Flight Nurse and Paramedic Matt joined Reenie, Respiratory Therapist John, and his new caregivers in a brief prayer for continuing healing mercies at Paul’s bedside.
For all God has done and in His name, Hal, Matt, and John give Jesus praise.
John A. Hannigan, RRT, MBA