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Happy Thanksgiving…

Posted by on November 24, 2016

THANKSGIVING, 2016. This Thanksgiving Day I am grateful more than ever before during my lifetime! I am thankful for my wife, my health and forgivethanks friends at my side and many others who prayed for me and offered their support last year at this time. Because last year at Thanksgiving, I lay in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Foley, Alabama, unconscious, 2,500 miles from home, on what appeared to be my deathbed. Today, I am healthy and able to enjoy the day. I have learned that every day of life truly is a gift from God.

EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO, TO THE DAY, I had suffered septic shock and was in such a medically-complex condition that I required 24-hour aggressive respiratory therapy by a team of doctors and specially trained nurses.  I had “coded” three times and after being resuscitated each time, the doctors had given me just hours to live. Several units of blood were required on almost a daily basis to keep me alive. A mechanical respirator breathed for me. I was unconscious, in a coma. All of my organs were damaged. My kidneys had failed and I was on dialysis. Every other day I was tethered to a machine for about four hours, while my blood was circulated and cleaned. This was to have been a routine I’d need to endure for the rest of my life, if the doctors could could even keep me alive to endure it.

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After about 5 weeks, I finally opened my eyes and the doctors told Florence I’d probably live.

FLORENCE SAVED MY LIFE. She stayed at my side almost 24 hours a day, consulting with the doctors and making difficult decisions. After I’d been unresponsive for weeks the lead doctor suggested that perhaps it was time for Florence her to consider “letting me go.” Her response was, “Hell no! I won’t consider any such thing. And you, doctor, better consider getting back to work and keeping my husband alive! Any questions? Good. Now do it!” Within a matter of days, she arranged for me to be transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, a critical care hospital better equipped to deal with my need for intensive round-the-clock care. Later, I would be transferred again, this time to an inpatient physical rehabilitation institute where the long process of learning to use my arms and legs would begin. Before my admission, I’d been given little chance of ever walking normally again, and the prognosis for anything other than an extremely compromised life was guarded.

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November, 2016. Just one year later and I’m walking and talking and just as ornery as ever! 

TODAY I’M HEALTHY. I FEEL GREAT. I no longer need a wheelchair, a walker or even a cane. This afternoon I walked our dog for about an hour and I felt good all day long. I no longer need dialysis treatments because about four months ago, miraculously, my kidneys recovered. My nephrologist tells me that in thirty eight years treating kidney disease, he’s never personally had a patient recover as I have done. My heart functions normally again and my appetite is good. Probably too good! I’ve said goodbye to my cardiologist, gastroenterologist and neurologist. God, my wife and my friends saved my life. For that I will be eternally grateful and constantly endeavoring to fill the purpose for which I still walk the earth. I’m sure there is one.

OUR CELEBRATION THIS YEAR. Thanksgiving this year is also special because we celebrate not only with new friends but also with a group of fifty young sailors stationed at nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station. These young men and women are in school there, learning various skills to support the aircraft used by the navy, both fixed wing planes and helicopters. As a group, these young men and women were polite, respectful, intelligent and well-spoken. The wonderful owners of Pensacola RV Park each year include these young members of our military as invited guests to the Thanksgiving dinner and celebration nasat the park. This year, we enjoyed fresh roasted turkey, grilled marinated duckling, ham, pulled pork and all the sides and desserts one could imagine. We talked, laughed, asked questions, fished in the pond, played games and offered these young heroes a chance to spend a day like they might have enjoyed were they back home. When I think of the sacrifices these young people make to ensure our freedom and safety, it makes me grateful to be an American. I was honored to have a chance thank them for their service and let them know just how I feel about all they do for us. Beyond that, we just had fun!

TODAY IT’S ALL ABOUT THESE YOUNG SAILORS. This year at Thanksgiving, it’s all about these young Sailors whose service and sacrifices protect us and our way of life! God bless you…each and every one. We are forever in your debt. We’ll never forget you and your service to our country!

 

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Pensacola RV Park has been our home for the last six months, as my team of physicians insisted I remain until they were sure I was completely “good to go.” We’ll depart and begin our travels again at the first of the year, but we’ll always remember the time we spent here and how much at home our hosts made us feel.

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Here’s the buffet line before the young sailors arrived. It didn’t look this way for long!

 

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Here they come! I’d guess they were all about 19 years old. They were thoughtful, courteous and quick to express their appreciation. We were even quicker to express ours.  

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When the bus arrived, Jeanine led about 50 hungry young sailors to the kitchen for a huge Thanksgiving buffet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These young men were the first ones through the line.

 

 

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The kids played ping pong and volleyball. Some fished in the pond. Some sat under majestic oak trees and talked on their cell phones. I think all of them were glad to have liberty and eat with us rather than in the mess hall.

 

 

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Florence with Lane. She’s the matriarch of the Williams family, owners of the park.

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Jeanine Williams, Lane’s daughter and one of the nicest folks we’ve met since we left home in San Diego.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Molly got more attention today than on any other day since we’ve had her. She loved it. This sailor took Molly on her leash and we didn’t see either one of them for about an hour! Molly was in heaven. 

 

 

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Campfire after dark.

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The Christmas tree lights came on tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A group shot of the sailors who joined us for Thanksgiving. Molly obviously felt right at home with these kids.

 

 

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The Williams family, our hosts at Pensacola RV Park. Thanks for a great Thanksgiving!

 

WHAT A NICE THANKSGIVING DAY. We enjoyed ourselves, start to finish. And it was a particularly special day because we had a chance to express our gratitude to some of the young military men and women who keep us safe and free. “Thanks for all you do for us. Thanks for spending your day with us. Godspeed to each and every one of you.”

 

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I’ll continue my story next time.

8 Responses to Happy Thanksgiving…

  1. Warren

    Yes! God has certainly blessed you as you Bless others. Thank you so much for sharing you faith and life to those who follow you by your messages.
    Looking forward to meeting you someday after we get on the road next spring.

  2. Stephen Hanleigh

    Happy thanksgiving, Greg and Florence…we had a nice one too.

    My brother and sister in law, Robyn and Ruben, just left our home in their F-350 and toy-hauler to spend xmas in Texas, and then will be leaving immediately for Pensacola, where I believe they had already planned to stay, I believe, in the same park you are in. They are linking up with other friends and retired police officers to spend the winter there. Maybe you can introduce them around.

    If you get contact, say hello…they are great folks, and share the same values we seem to have in common!

    Best to both of you,
    Steve

  3. Greg Alford

    Steve, it’s good to hear from you! Unfortunately, we’ll be leaving Pensacola on January 2nd, probably just about the time they’ll be arriving. But keep me posted as to their itinerary. Gypsies like us never know just where we’ll be headed next!

  4. Greg Alford

    Warren, please continue to stay in touch. I sense that we have lots in common and it would be fun to meet next spring once you’re on the road again.

  5. Randy HOWE

    Well, you ol’ road warriors, this year has to begat a great deal of gratitude on your part I’m sure. It was only latter in life that I came to appreciate that word, thank you for reminding me.
    What a nice group of people to spend the Thanksgiving holiday (my favorite) with, they also looked to be greatful.
    Thanks too for keeping us up to date.

  6. Greg Alford

    Randy, we always enjoy hearing from you! We’re now “old friends” in more ways than one, I guess. LOL

  7. Allen Maxfield

    Greg, I didn’t realize how serious a condition you were in. God was on your side and certainly looking out for you. So glad you’re gypsy life as been so much fun. We have thought about it on and off several times, but the thought of renting our Newport house is a bit scary, since it’s been in the family since it was built in 1908 by my grandfather. Who knows what the future will bring, but I must say, having our escape house on the Williamson River in OR is a wonderful retreat. Stay well and a happy belated thanksgiving, and an early merry Christmas.
    Allen

  8. Greg Alford

    Allen, good to hear from you. Don’t even think about renting your home in Newport! We had a house on Balboa Island we used in the summer and rented to school teachers in the winter for a few years. It got trashed! Stay in touch. Merry Christmas!

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