A Gift of New Life
First came a boy weighing 3 pounds 14 ounces: Robert Jared Screws. After Robert Jared came his three sisters: Briannia Rae, 3 pounds 1 ounce; Brinkley Faye, 3 pounds 13 ounces; and Buckley Lenay, 4 pounds 2 ounces. All were tiny, but they were strong, healthy babies. In the hallway outside the operating room, friends and relatives wept and cheered as the quad wheeled them by, one by one, in their incubators.
The babies stayed in the hospital about a month. Keith went there too, for more chemotherapy, and the nurses took one or two babies at a time to his room for a visit. That seemed to help him more than the medication.
Then came a wonderful surprise. When we were ready to go home, we learned that a physicians' fund had provided a brand-new van for us, complete with four infant car seats. Keith was waiting for us at hone, frail mow and in constant pain, but also very happy.
The whole community of Swainsboro and surrounding towns united in trying to help us. Countless women offered to baby-sit. Members of Keith's high school class prepared dinners for us twice a week. All sorts of fund-raising events were organized. A Kroger store on Wilmington Island near Savannah donated a year's supply of diapers and other baby needs. That helped, because the quads required 40 to 50 diapers a day!
A man named Ricky Stevens came to measure our farmhouse for central air-conditioning, but went away concerned that the house was too small for six people. That night he could not sleep. He consulted a friend in real estate, Ken Warnock, and the two of them invited a group of Swainsboro businessmen to lunch. By the time Lunch was over, they had enough pledges to begin building a new house. 外语#教育网www.for68.com
There was a site on our land with a view of the pasture and grazing cattle. Our new house would be built there, a spacious home with five bedrooms-a master bedroom and one for each of the quads.
As spring came to Georgia, Keith's health continued to decline. Still, he took great delight in his four babies. In the mornings he would hold them and play with them and help feed them. He got to be good at handling two bottles at a time. Before we left home for a chemo-treatment or doctor's appointment Keith would spend time alone with each baby.
Later in the spring another operation was necessary, and complications followed. It became difficult for Keith to talk or breathe, and at last consciousness. His final words to me were,“I love you.”The doctors put him on a respirator, but they said it was only as matter of hours. I sat beside him holding his hand and whispering,“Be at peace. Be at peace.”And finally, on June 11, peace did come. He was 32 years old.
Life went on. Ground was broken for the new house on a blue-and-gold day in December. The quads were old enough to stand, and each was old enough to stand, and each was given a little gilded shovel to mark the occasion. Many friends and neighbors were there, and the mayor of Swainsboro put our feelings into words:“We hope that when these babies are grown, they will look at this house and understand how much their father was respected and admired by everyone who knew him.”
I have gone back to teaching. Devoted friends and relatives and fully qualified helpers take good care of the quads while I am away. Without Keith's illness we never would have recognized the amazing goodness that lies in people. The outpouring of love and compassion and caring that has surrounded us is almost beyond belief. One life was taken away from me, but four other lives were given to me to sustain and to comfort me. Facing death with Keith made me realize how precious life is. I cherish it and am grateful for it every single day.