Gratitude Every Single Day

Real Estate Agent with Realty Executives Phoenix SA651528000

Gratitude Every Single DayFrom a Traumatic Brain Injury to a Burst Of Butterflies - Gratitude Every Single Day

Sometimes our lives can take a sudden and unexpected turn.  I worked very dilligently at setting up my life the way I wanted it to be...years of setting and achieving goals, always a list maker and enjoying checking items off of my list every day, week, month and year.  I had reached a pretty nice plateau at the beginning of 2013 and had plans for a long-desired trip to Ireland.  My finances were stable, business was good, everything was in control.  I was very grateful for the career path and goals I had achieved.

However, on June 21st 2013, I received a call that my sister had just been airlifted to a trauma hospital.  I had no info on what happened or what her condition was, but I knew that if they had to airlift her it could not be good.  I quickly called my Mom at work and told her I was coming to get her.  The drive felt like it took forever even though it was only 7 miles.  I picked up my Mom and she was shaking and neither of us knew what was going on.  Arriving at the hospital, we were escorted to a room with couches and dim lights.   We were told that my sister had been catapulted head first into a brick wall in a serious accident and had sustained major injuries.  They needed approval to perform surgery on her brain to release the pressure and that she may not survive the procedure.  My Mom was squeezing my hand so hard I thought it was going to break, but I didn't say anything or stop her as I knew that this news is something that no mother wants to hear.  

Over the next several weeks, my sister had three brain surgeries, facial reconstruction, clavical surgery, screws installed throughout her back bones, and lay in a coma.  We lived at the hospital and everything else in our lives suddenly went on hold.  I went to court to legally become her guardian and conservator so that I could make decisions and take care of her finances.  After eight weeks, she came out of her coma but couldn't talk, walk or eat food.  She spent six more weeks in neurological rehab learning to do all of these things again.  I am so grateful that my career afforded me the flexibility to be at the hospital each day to help see her through all of this and to assist my Mom.  

She was a 33 year old woman working as a manager at a Starbucks, attending college for a business degree, getting her entire life and future positioned the way she wanted it.  In a second, it was all gone.   While she was in the hospital, I moved her household of furniture and belongings to my house, planned for our Mom to retire from her life-long career in order to become care-giver for my sister, bought another house for myself and my teen-age son to live in, and set everything up for what life had presented to us as a result of this tragedy.  It was exhausting and time-consuming and I am thankful that I was able to do it all.  My trip to Ireland just has to wait for a while.  

It is now 17 months later.  My sister is doing well relatively, but is permanently disabled, suffers from short-term memory issues, semi-frequent siezures, has a shunt implant to stabilize her brain fluid, and has difficulty understanding daily concepts that you and I take for granted.  She has lost her independence that she worked so hard to obtain and cannot work a traditional job or drive.  We are grateful that she survived against the odds.

However, I have bought a commercial building and we are opening a family-operated pottery painting and art studio shop in January which my Mom and Son and I will manage, and my sister will be able to work there as well and regain some of that sense of having her life back.  It has been a huge investment, and I pray it works, but giving my sister the ability to have a "job" in a way that she is still cared for and looked after by family will be huge for her.  She has even taken an interest in canvas painting and seems to enjoy it very much, so we are planning on offering canvas painting classes at our shop.  We are naming the shop Burst Of Butterflies as a tribute to the metamorphasis that has taken place in our lives and a theme around turning something ugly into something beautiful.

I am grateful that I had the time and the means to be able to take care of all of this, allow my Mom to retire and take care of my sister, and work toward building an outside-the-box way to give my sister back some sense of independence with a job which accommodates her new disabilities.  It has not been easy by any stretch of the term, and I have definitely aged in the process, but am thankful every day.  

Through all of this, I have definitely become more patient, understanding and less inclined to sweat the small stuff.  My daily interactions with others comes with more empathy and a comfort calm outlook in the idea that things will work out the way they should and with time.  These adapted qualities have much more positive results in my daily interactions.



Posted by

Cheryl! TIsland

Realty Executives Phoenix
Direct: 480.388.6522


Member of the Ahwatukee Chamber Of Commerce

Information in this blog is deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed and may change due to market conditions.

Comments (10)

Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Gratitude is riches, we have more than we deserve. Are so lucky. This is a good thought for Thanksgiving, for year round.

Nov 25, 2014 04:52 AM
Barbara Le Pine
ADVANTAGE REAL ESTATE, serving Lincoln County - Newport, OR
Your agent for the Central Oregon Coast!

This story is awe inspiring. I send thoughts of healing for all of you, and will take your fighting spirit with me as I move through my day. Thanks for sharing this story with all of us, I am sure it was not easy to write.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Nov 25, 2014 05:08 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


That is an amazing story! What a life changing experience for all of you. One never knows where life will take us and being gratfeul for what we have every day is so important, since that can all change so quickly.

Thanks for sharing what must have been a very difficult and emotional time. What a wonderful thing you are doing for your family!



Nov 25, 2014 06:54 AM
Cheryl! Tisland
Realty Executives Phoenix - Chandler, AZ
BSCS, Real Estate Agent

Andrew Mooers , yes, I agree with you completely!  There is always so much to be thankful for.

Barbara Le Pine , thank you for reading and your kind words.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Dowler CRS , thank you.  It has definitely been a good reminder of how every day is so important.  Happy Thanksgiving to you!


Nov 25, 2014 07:24 AM
Michael Dagner
Brokers Guild Classic - Denver, CO
Your Denver Homes Realty Expert

Cheryl, you and your family have endured a lot recently.  Very heartwarming story.  Hope the art studio goes over well, cause its such a beneficial way to help your loved ones.  Best to you!

Nov 25, 2014 01:20 PM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I am so glad that you were able to be there for your sister and your Mom and that your sister is doing ok.  About 5 years ago, I got a similar call about my brother having to be airlifted and I can't even describe the deep emotions that I felt seeing him in that situation.  Luckily, he only spent 6 days in the hospital, then 3 months in a halo and has seemingly lived a normal life since.  We are truly blessed to still have him with us, as it didn't seem likely that he would even make it.

I am definitely going to keep a look out for Burst of Butterfiles!

Nov 25, 2014 11:21 PM
Cheryl! Tisland
Realty Executives Phoenix - Chandler, AZ
BSCS, Real Estate Agent

Brian England , thank you for sharing some of your story as well.  It is truly an indescribable feeling when that call comes and seeing someone you love in that situation.  Glad that your brother has recovered.  Definitely stop by the shop sometime.  We are scheduled to open in January.

Nov 25, 2014 11:29 PM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Cheryl! Tisland I have noted to start looking for the shop in January, but if you are able to send me an email reminder, I will definitely go into the shop for a visit.

Nov 25, 2014 11:46 PM
Anita Clark
Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055 - Warner Robins, GA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA

Cheryl: What an incredible story of hope, love, and perseverance. I wish your family all the best and know today you are thankful for many things. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 27, 2014 05:57 AM
Cheryl! Tisland
Realty Executives Phoenix - Chandler, AZ
BSCS, Real Estate Agent

Thank you, Anita Clark!  Definitely grateful for many things today!  Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.  Hope it has been a fantabulous day!

Nov 27, 2014 06:07 AM

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?