Jacob – The Beginning of The Wrestler

Bob and I didn’t pick the namePictures From Mom's 006 Jacob because we knew it meant “The Heel” in the Old Testament.  That knowledge has been a bit frustrating for me these past 17 1/2 years! I liked the name because I found out my Great-Great Grandfather was named “Jacob.” And I like the story of Jacob in the Old Testament. I love it that Jacob grabbed God, (or the Angel of God), and demanded a blessing.  “I won’t let you go until you give me a blessing!”  …It’s a lot like who Jacob was in the Old Testament. -Always grabbing for a blessing!  Right from the womb!

I want my children to know that it’s OK to wrestle with God! I want them to know they have the right to go boldly before the Throne of Grace and say, “I’m not letting You go until I get a blessing!”  -I realize that they may “retreat into the dust from whence they came” or they may “walk away with a limp.”  But… I want them to know that grappling with God is part of living… part of breathing.  Life isn’t fair.  It isn’t logical.  The ‘good guys’ don’t always win.  Grapple!  Wrestle!  Trust God that He will give you the blessing of His Presence!

I didn’t realize that my Jacob would teach me so much about wrestling with God…. I didn’t realize that I would wrestle and walk with Jacob as he wrestled!  I currently pray the wrestling never stops for Jacob or our family about Jacob’s life….  So much has been taught so far. I hope there is so much more we’ll learn from our wrestling match!

Let me take you back for a minute…  1995 in my life wasn’t going that terrifically.  On November 11, 1994, our oldest daughter, Heather, had fallen and suffered from a serious head injury.  -Life flight, ICU, subdural hematoma, subarrachnnoid hemorrhage, word confusion, chronic headaches…  These were now a part of our lives in helping her cope. We had turned another chapter in our lives. You know.

And…  I knew something was up with my husband… He had been a hard, dedicated worker. Never missed work. Went in sick.  Ridiculous!  (When I had worked outside of the home prior to children, I took pride in the fact that I used my sick days!) Bob was salaried as a store manager and was so totally obsessed with working!  And then… It changed. After Heather’s head injury, the company Bob was working for let him go. He had to work for someone else… a smaller store. Less up-to-date mindset about business….

Bob was grumpy. He got sick.  He missed work and had this really bad attitude about his job. He didn’t like how the store was being run. But it seemed more than that. I didn’t get it. I felt like I was losing my husband. But, I didn’t get it. I remember telling a good friend, “Pray for Bob. I think he’s going to get fired because his attitude is so bad. In fact, if I were his boss, I’d let him go.”  She was in shock.   She knew Bob’s work ethic. Grumpy every now and then? Sure. So bad that he would lose his job? What?  It just wasn’t anything I ever thought would happen. I had questions about what was going on with him.  Little did I know the questions would be answered, but not until about 15 years later.  But that is another story… Another chapter.

November 9, 1995. Jacob was born. He wasn’t a surprise. I knew the moment we conceived him. And, as with all of my children, I promptly began to throw up for the following 9 1/2 months of my life. But, I digress…

Mom didn’t fly out for Jacob’s birth. She was too sick that year. Jacob was the first of my 4 children that she would not see. Dad had died in 1993. I took comfort in the fact that he knew we were going to name our 2nd born Jacob if the 2nd was a boy.  Jacob. After Jacob David. Dad’s Great Grandfather. But alas, Heather was not a boy. She was our beautiful tumbleweed, Heather.

Mom died the September of 1996 before she could fly out from Indiana to visit Jacob. I would miss her terribly throughout Jacob’s wrestling match.  I used to say, “I wish Mom were here to call and talk to.  ‘Cause then we could at least argue about how to handle the wrestling match!”

Jacob was incredibly quiet and gentle. People at church used to call him “Little Angel.” He was incredibly easy to parent. Loving and gentle. Easy.

In 1997 Jacob had a “twitch.” We were asked to keep track of the little twitches by the pediatrician we had taken him to that summer. We had taken a trip to Colorado. It was then we realized how often Jacob was twitching. Parenting 3 children was a lot. Helping Heather recover from her brain injury was a lot. When we were on vacation in Colorado, we noticed Jacob was twitching/flapping about 15 to 20 times a day. His twitches were a little flapping of the elbows, along with a head shake. Not much. Almost always a one or two beat. We took him to the pediatrician and started the process of figuring out what the flapping was about.

Bob and I had started counseling with a therapist. We were so stressed out. I was praying about all of our options. I was wondering about getting a separation in order to “wake Bob up” to the need to support our family financially. I wanted any answer for relief. The therapist had said we reminded him of Ecclesiastes where it speaks of it being better when to walk down a path together. Because when one falls in the ditch, the other is there to pick him up…. Only both Bob and I were in the ditch.

November 9, 1997 I woke with a startle. It was Jacob’s birthday, but something else made me go and check on Jacob.

He was in a full blown seizure. And the seizure lasted a while.  I don’t know how long. I hadn’t been taught yet about the need to time seizures. But I would learn. I would have a lot of opportunity to learn.

I remember holding Jacob in the back seat of the Taurus station wagon as Bob drove us to the hospital. A friend had driven to our house to stay with David and Heather. I remember realizing in that moment our children needed both of us. Jacob needed Bob to be there when a he woke up from a seizure. Jacob needed me to be there when he woke up from a seizure. I could not imagine doing this life without Bob.

I shot a prayer up to God. “Lord, help me to keep my marriage. Keep us together, Lord. Heal our marriage. Help us to be there for our children.”

Jacob woke up from the seizure on the way to the hospital. He wasn’t “awake,” but he was “awake.” I would later find out the term for this “the lights are on, but no one is home” experience is the postictal phase of a seizure.  Eventually, our family would have plenty of experiences with this phase. But for now… we were just wrestling.