[Patty asked me to write something about the time we got to spend with Paul over Thanksgiving. For those who do not know me, I am Nancy Gallion, one of Paul’s sisters. Writing this was hard. I wrote, deleted, shed tears and wrote again. I have a new appreciation for what Patty writes and shares with those who care and pray for her and for Paul. ]
This Thanksgiving we were able to get together with Paul, Patty and other family members. I am very thankful for that time together. While we are limiting our time spent with groups right now, we needed to be together. Patty drove Paul from Ohio to South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving week. Seeing the struggles that have become daily life for Paul and Patty became a vivid reminder that we need to surround them in prayer. Every day and every task has become a challenge.
Our time together involved food preparation and eating, serious conversations and laughter, some tears and lots of smiles. We sat and talked around the fire, and sang Christmas carols around the piano. Paul listened and maybe hummed a bit as we sang. These are memories to treasure. While it was hard to see Paul having trouble doing things that he has always done with ease, it was good to be together.
We sat around Danielle and Micah’s fire pit on chairs and swings, and my mind went back almost 50 years to the hours Paul and I spent talking together. As kids, we would sit on the front porch swing in our childhood home in Painesville, Ohio. We shared many ideas, hopes, and dreams. Those are good memories. God has blessed through the years, more than we could have hoped or dreamed when we were so young. How good it is to know that God is always only good. Even now it is good to know we can trust God and know that He loves Paul more than we ever could.
In the last year and a half while reading my Bible, I have been comforted by this and so many other passages where the Lord commands, “Fear not.” He knows exactly what our nature is, and He tells us over and over again not to fear because He is in control. His path and His plan are good and better than we could choose. The “Fear not” in Isaiah 43 has become the message of many songs because it has strengthened so many through their own trials. Each time I recognize it in some song, it is a comfort. God loves and promises go through trials with us. Those going through the trial are precious in His eyes. Precious and loved.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.…
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,…
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
Guest Contributor: Luanne Hurst
Patty has asked me to share some of my impressions of our time with Paul so that you hear from someone in addition to her and the kids.
This year we had the joy of spending Thanksgiving with family in South Carolina. After the isolation of most of 2020, this time was especially welcome and very enjoyable. Dan, Matthew, our dog (Stella), and I drove north from Florida on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We were thankful for safety on very crowded roads for over 11 hours.
We stayed with Dan and Paul’s sister Nancy and her husband, Don, and thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.
Of course, the main reason that we made the effort was to be able to see Paul and Patty. (Yes, we did pray a great deal about the wisdom of getting together in this time of pandemic, but we believe that the Lord gave us clear direction to go.) Last year at Thanksgiving time Paul’s brain tumor diagnosis was only months old, and when we went to see him then, we were afraid that it would be the last time we’d ever see him this side of heaven.
What a blessing it was to be able to see him again a year later!
Our family, as well as Don and Nancy, were able to join Paul and Patty and three of their children and their families plus a family friend for a delightful Thanksgiving meal. We recounted and laughed over all kinds of wonderful past family stories while making new memories. In the afternoon, the weather was so mild that we spent the time outside around a fire pit in the Pretloves’ back yard. Several of Paul and Patty’s grandkids were running around barefoot!
So what was it like to see Paul again after a year? This year we actually felt that we could understand his verbal communication better than we could the previous year. (The tumor affects the speech center of his brain.) We were shocked by his weight gain (due mostly, we think, to the steroids and other medicines he’s had to take and the fact that he’s now unsteady on his feet and can’t exercise much). We knew he would be bald since wearing the Optune cap requires Patty to shave his head twice a week, but it was still different to see him that way. We got to see Patty putting the connections on his head so that the device can shoot some sort of waves into his brain. We wonder if the Lord has used this treatment to slow the growth of Paul’s tumor and to extend his life. We’re grateful for the way that research continues to come up with new options for treating conditions like Paul’s. Patty told us that he has already lived longer than predicted.
A highlight of our time together occurred when we all met on Saturday night for a meal based mostly on the abundant leftovers from Thanksgiving. After our meal, we sang Christmas carols together as a couple of the talented younger generation (Amanda Hurst and Ryan Yoder) played the piano. Anyone who knows Paul knows about his love for good music and his joy in leading both congregational and choir music. As we sang, we saw his lips moving and some gestures that reminded us of his enthusiastic leading of music in the past. One of the most dramatic changes in Paul is his silence. As he would say, not being able to verbalize his thoughts is “frustrating.” Patty says he listens to his Bible and his music now since the tumor also hinders his ability to read.
As I think back over our few days with Paul and Patty, I can only say, “The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
Please pray for Paul and Patty. They want to glorify the Lord through this trial. We know that our Great Physician can heal Paul, but so far He has not chosen to do so. We continue to pray for His will to be done, and we include prayers for healing according to His will. We were blessed to be with them and to see the way the Lord has been working in their lives. As Paul himself has sung many times, “The Lord makes no mistakes.”