Learning to accept help

By admin
01 November 2013

Blogger Michelle Fourie shares how her family received help from all over when the family had financial difficulties after her husband sustained severe brain injuries in a car accident.

A family outing to a farm before the accident. From left: Michelle, sons Ruan, Jacques and her her husband Jackie.

I worked for many years in disaster management and, after the birth of my son Ruben in 2006, I resigned my job at Tshwane City Council.

Soon after my husband Jackie was admitted to hospital, I realised I would have to manage a crisis. No theory on Earth or years of experience could have prepared me for what had hit us.

After four expensive weeks in a private hospital Jackie was transferred to a rehabilitation centre. The medical accounts started to pile up because our medical aid had expired shortly before the accident and he, the breadwinner, was recovering slowly. Because of severe brain damage it was unlikely he’d ever be able to work as before.

Six years ago I started a small thatching business with a team of five workers, for whom I’m responsible. I find the jobs, provide quotations, have the material delivered, take the team to work every morning and make sure the site is clean at the end of every day.

It might sound simple, but it is stressful. Wages must be paid each week and work in this business sector isn’t plentiful.

My thatch-roofing company team

After the accident I had to get on with everyday tasks. Accounts had to be paid, the children cared for and, after many years, I again realised what it took to manage during a calamity.

Financially, we weren’t prepared for the blow that hit us.

I now realise for the first time in my life what it is to receive. Strangers deliver food to our house and help comes from unexpected quarters. I realise how much goodness there is and that people are inherently generous.

It’s difficult when you’re unexpectedly on the receiving end. And I struggled with this until I read in my Bible that to give unconditionally you must first learn to receive unconditionally. That makes me feel better.

I realise I can’t climb this mountain alone. The boys need me; we must go on with life.

It’s fortunate that during this time my company secured a contract to build a place of worship next to the Jukskei River. A sign outside the building bears a message I see every day: Believe: God is faithful to those who diligently seek Him.

Every night we go to the rehab and we wait for the moments when Jackie opens his eyes. He’s tired after the day’s therapy and he hardly speaks. When he does speak it’s confused and we can’t understand him. He talks about cats, horses, photographs, trains, ships . . . very little makes sense. It’s as if muddled flashes flare in his brain.

He still can’t feed himself and I help feed him when we visit at mealtimes. He’s like a small bird that can’t swallow fast enough and open its beak again.

He now wears nappies.

It breaks my heart to see him like this.

* Michelle Fourie lives in Pretoria where she has a thatch-roofing business. She blogs weekly for YOU about how her life and her family’s changed after her husband sustained irreversible brain damage.

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