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Angels among us

On Halloween, my husband and I received news no parents want to hear. Our daughter who lives in the Pacific Northwest, the medical researcher, had suffered a stroke the evening before. Only 30 years old, our slender daughter stays physically active, eats healthily, has low blood pressure and cholesterol, earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and regularly practices yoga. In other words, she was the least likely person I know to have a stroke, or so I thought. Fortunately, she responded quickly to her symptoms, going straight to the hospital emergency room even though she tried to convince herself she was overreacting (“This can’t be a stroke. I’m only 30!”). My husband and I flew to Washington that very afternoon, as did our other daughter, the medical resident who currently lives in New England. She was able to stay a week, and my husband and I were there almost a month until our older daughter was released from the hospital and we could bring her home to further recuperate.

An acquaintance whose taste in reading leans toward dark, grim, anti-hero tales once told me the books I write are filled with people who are “just too nice.” She wasn’t sure that was entirely realistic, since her world-view is more pessimistic than mine. Unlike my cynical friend, I’ve always chosen to believe that most people are basically good and well-intentioned. After the past month, I am even more firmly convinced.

Diane, the agent at American Airlines who made the initial arrangements for our flight out, gave us compassion fare on a flight leaving only a few hours after I called. Of course, I was upset and rattled when I made that call and she was very patient with me while I scrambled through papers and cards and tried to answer her questions coherently. She sincerely wished our daughter a quick and complete recovery. Two later agents changed return dates for us when the hospitalization was extended longer than we expected, handling all the details and also wishing us well. Our daughter’s coworker and her husband picked us up at the airport at almost midnight and delivered us to the hospital, even though both had to work the next day. Another coworker had dropped everything at our daughter’s call to take her to the hospital that Saturday afternoon of October 30. Her boss and all her other associates visited often, encouraged us to call if we needed anything, and brought food and gifts and silly cards to make our daughter smile. Her pastor, yoga instructor and members of her church came by with encouragement, sent cards and soup,  and delivered a pretty, cheery lap quilt made by a church quilting group. The children in her church drew pictures for her, which meant so much to her when we hung them in her room. My husband and I received several invitations for Thanksgiving dinners, even though we were strangers to the people warmly inviting us to join their family festivities.

The staff at the University of Washington Medical Center — from doctors to nurses to technicians to therapists to clerical staff — were all so amazingly kind, professional and caring. We were confident from the start that our daughter was receiving excellent care by people who wanted the best for her. Volunteers brought sweet-natured dogs to visit the hospital wards, delighting our animal-loving daughter who enjoyed petting the friendly border collie and golden retriever she met in consecutive visits.

Friends from home called frequently, volunteered to take care of things at our house, picked up our mail and newspapers, and asked about my husband’s elderly mother, who he usually visits and cares for daily. On-line friends I’ve never met in real life sent notes of encouragement and much-appreciated prayers. My agent and editors called and sent notes offering any assistance I needed. Extended family members made sure our college-senior son had a nice Thanksgiving, even though he was separated from the rest of his immediate family for the first time on that holiday. My husband, daughter and I had a quiet Thanksgiving meal in her apartment, giving her a chance to rest and prepare for the long trip the next day and all of us the opportunity to express our gratitude that she will recover from this medical crisis.

The return flight home on the Friday after Thanksgiving, two days after our daughter was released from the hospital, was somewhat grueling, especially for her, but we’ll never forget the kindness of the flight attendants who helped us with pre-boarding, with stowing the bags, wheelchair and walker we brought home with us, with arranging an escort to help us change planes (and terminals) during a too-brief layover in Dallas. Our daughter will continue her therapy here  until she is able to return to the active and productive life she was leading prior to the stroke, hopefully soon! Already we’ve encountered many acts of kindness here  from family, friends and medical providers.

So, to my cynical friend, I’ll say that the characters in my books aren’t perfect. They have flaws and vulnerabilities. I include a few “bad guys,” just as there are bad people in real life. But most of my characters are basically good, well-intentioned individuals — just like so many of the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet in my real life. I don’t think that’s unrealistic at all.


Award-winning, best-selling author of women's romance fiction.

6 thoughts on “Angels among us

  1. Okay, Gina, my dear. You got me and Miss M tearing up this morning. Thanks for that. Please know that our prayers continue for you and your family, hon. You are well loved. xoxo

  2. Oh Gina, this made me cry! I’m so glad that your daughter is OK and that so many people were there for you and yours during this trying time.

    Much love!


  3. God’s blessings to you and the family, Gina. I hope this holiday season continues to bring miracles to you.

  4. Gina, you brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad that so many good people are around to support you, your daughter, and your entire family through such an immensely difficult struggle. My prayers are still with you all. I too feel that people are, for the most part, good, and that’s one of the reasons your writing appeals to me so much…it’s realistic, warm and engaging, just like you and the many people who have shown their love for you and your family over the past month. Thanks for writing this post and reaffirming to the world how many good people there are out there, and how love and service can really touch a person’s life.

  5. Gina,
    I don’t log onto Facebook that often, so I’m a little behind. I just read your note regarding your daughter. I will remember her in my prayers and pray for her speedy recovery. I have two daughters and I can’t imagine what you and your husband have had to had to endure over the past month. My prayers will also include you and your family and that God will provide you and your family the strenght and love to support your daughter during her recovery.

    I’m never suprised by what people can and will do when other’s need help. Mankind is not near aa bad off as some folks like to think.
    Kenny H.

  6. Dear Gina,
    its been a while since i visited your website and read your blogs. i’m sorry to hear about your daughter. but i am happy to know that she is recovering. i am sure, with God’s loving grace, that she will be recover and live a wonderful life ahead.
    she is extremely fortunate to have a family who cares and loves her unconditionally.
    it is true that there are people, ‘angels’, that God sends in our way in times when we seem the world has fallen apart. i have gone through some tough experience last September when my beloved grandmother was taken to the hospital for a week and died later on. God has made me feel there are ‘angels’ he sends along the way to ease the burden of a broken heart and sadness and loneliness.

    i wish you and your family, especially your daughter a blessed new year!

    – jang

    PS, i still continue to read and re-read your stories. they are heartwarming, dreamy and real …. may you continue to touch the lives of your readers as you always do!

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