Thursday, August 24, 2017

Do You Remember Where You Were When … ?

May 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Random Notes

When you hear the question, “Do you remember where you were when …” it brings back the joy or the pain prompted by the question itself.

Well today I am working on a project for Pine Cove.  It is Early May 2014.  Campers will arrive at the new Silverado Camp near Columbus, Texas soon and there is still a lot of work to do.  Today painters, electricians, carpenters,  kitchen equipment guys, carpet layers and other skilled craftsmen are working to finish this camp by the end of the month.  This is an exciting project. The owner has allowed me the privilege of designing most of the buildings in this Old Western Setting, similar to Silver Dollar City. Yes, I still have a drawing board.

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On this day six years ago, I was at the same location, doing the same thing, working with a team of very talented construction workers attempting to complete the Outback Camp, an adjacent camp on the same property.

Outback

During that time my nephew, Joel Lee, was gravely ill.  Joel was 17 years old.  He had been sick since he was just a few years old.  It was discovered when he was about six that his heart was diseased and would ultimately fail.  Joel received a heart transplant shortly thereafter in Pittsburgh, PA.  He remained active, enjoyed sports, school, dogs, church and sports.  Yes he really loved sports.  If you have been around a transplant recipient, you know that it requires a lot of hard work by the patient, family and medical professionals.  Joel did everything perfectly, yet he remained on a roller-coaster between good health and failing health into his teenage years.  The testing and treatment was pretty brutal and I won’t detail it here, but he was a real trooper, never complaining, not once.

When Joel was about 13, his health began to fail.  Many weeks were spent in the hospital.  There was talk of his second heart being in trouble, and there was discussion of a possible second transplant. There was a fine line between being well and being in rejection mode.  It was never easy.  The family remained hopeful for new medicines and medical breakthroughs.

In the summer of 2008, things looked bad, really bad.  Joel’s health began to deteriorate day-by-day.  He was at his “second home”, the hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, just a few miles from his real home.  Eventually he was connected to every imaginable tube and apparatus that might possibly improve his condition, and keep him alive.  Our Texas family made trips to Little Rock where Joel was being treated, but would have to retreat back to our respective jobs.

Do you remember where you were when …?

It was the morning of  May 7, 2008.  I was in the sound booth of the Dining Hall of the Outback Camp, which was far from being finished.

control room

I got a call from my sister Teresa, Joel’s mom.  The doctors in Little Rock had confirmed Joel would not make it through the day.  His legs had virtually no circulation due to his failing heart, and the ONLY chance of saving him would involve amputating both legs.  I remembered crying out to God.  How could this be?  I remembered pacing this small room like a caged animal.  I called Matt Edwards, at Pine Cove in Tyler, Texas.  Pine Cove’s weekly chapel service was about to begin.  There would be 100+ strong believers that could pray for Joel.  I remembered Matt saying, “We will pray that God’s will will be done.”  I thought …. Please pray that Joel would LIVE!  We hung up.  I remembered looking at those unfinished walls and praying again for Joel.

The horrific decision to remove Joel’s legs was made, but as Joel was being prepared for surgery, he left this earth for his heavenly reward.  At the age of 17, Joel had influenced his family, the kids at his school, his neighborhood friends in Mississippi and Arkansas.  We are all blessed to have known him.

I spent many more days in the Dining Hall preparing it for camp, but I only went to the control room once after May 7th.

joel

I also remember where I was in the days following Joel’s earthly death.  Family and old friends gathered and celebrated Joel’s life.  Joel’s dad, a Baptist minister, delivered a sermon of hope and glory.  Many people were moved by David Lee’s inspired words.

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