Second Chances

February was a most unusual month.
On the second day, a Sunday, I died. Heart attack. Full cardiac arrest.
The attack came without warning. If I had been asked, I would have said, no, I’m not ready to die.
However, you don’t get a choice in such matters.
But apparently God wasn’t finished with me yet.
My wife, who had never performed CPR, began the procedure with the aid of a 911 operator to at least keep my blood flowing after my heart had stopped. A rescue squad arrived within minutes and took over. Finally, two shocks from electric paddles brought me back, and a cardiologist kept me alive by inserting five stints into my arteries.
People have asked if I saw a bright light or felt the calming presence of God.
To be honest, I don’t remember anything about the attack or the stay in intensive care or the full week in the hospital,
My first memories are going to rehab and realizing I felt remarkably well for someone who had been dead.
But I was left with a lingering and still unanswered question: Why was I still alive?
As I said, February was a most unusual month.
Februarys in Florida can’t make up their mind whether to remain locked in winter or to welcome the warmth of spring.
That was the case in spades this year at Roaring Creek Farm, the 100-acre farm my wife and I own in Gadsden County.
The warmth came early, and my fruit trees reveled in it. The pear, apple, mulberry and citrus trees burst into blooms with promises of fruit to come.
Then came a hard freeze. Then another.
The dozens of white blossoms on the grapefruit tree shriveled and turned brown. Its leaves began falling off.
The mulberry trees in particular looked confused. The hundreds of buds that had heralded spring were dead.
I did the only things I knew to do. I watered the trees and fertilized them with the hope that when spring finally comes, they will recover, put on new leaves and grow strong.
There’s likely to be no fruit this year. Maybe next year. There’s always hope for second chances.
With that in mind, I’ll tend the trees in the months ahead and continue my quest to find an answer to my own unanswered question: What to do with these extra days of life I have been blessed with?


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I wrote opinion columns for The Florida Times-Union for 28 years. I retired in December 2017, but I still have a few things to say. Often those thoughts come to me when I'm at our farm in Gadsden County where life is simple and the environment still beautiful.

7 thoughts on “Second Chances”

  1. Oh, Ron. At first I thought you were writing a short story. I’m very relieved that your story isn’t over and am sure that you will be around to harvest the next crop.


  2. My opinion, you are still here to praise God with every beautiful dawn you photograph, love and guide your family, encourage good in all the people in your sphere of influence , be a witness to Gods Grace, and maybe grow a good garden. I’m so thankful you have more time. I love you, dear brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn kept my up on our progress and Hank responded to my emails on your stunning progress. You had a few people shook up!! You aren’t ready to see Elvis yet, my friend!! You have more Mayor’s to irritate!! John Delaney


  4. When I hear about stories like this the first thing I used to find myself asking – What were your symptoms? Now as I enter a “certain age” I have stopped asking that particular question and when I read or hear stories like yours, I can’t help but recall what a good friend says, which is how I think about things now more than ever- “It’s a God thing.” There is a great song on the charts that makes the point to be glad for the end of each day because it’s one less day you’re dying young. So- enjoy what God has given you- it wasn’t your time to die young!


  5. Ron, you were simply too young to go. So sorry to hear about this dire life event, but it seems clear this will make you stronger and bring aspects to your being that you did not even know existed. So what brought you out to Gadsen County? I have to assume you don’t farm 100 acres on your own. Do you? Take care old friend, whom I haven’t spoken to in ages but remember as a Texan who had a particular dislike for horses.


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