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March 2009 Archives


God bless you.

Into each life, some rain must fall.

But sometimes, when it rains, it pours. As if my personal health issues weren't

already a heap, another burden has been added to my plate.

"Ijustgotlaidoff," she said in a tear-croaked moan.

That was the first sad sound I heard when I answered the phone beside my

hospital bed Tuesday morning, the day (March 17, 2009) I would be released from the

University of Chicago Hospital. I had spent a week there undergoing treatment to

temporarily strengthen my dying heart which, doctors tell me, will require at least the

implantation of a mechanical pump (a Left Ventricular Assist Device LVAD) real soon if

I hope to live out this year.

At first hearing, I thought I was hearing one word. But it was actually five. I at least

recognized that it was my middle daughter beloved, Noelle Victoria-Renee Banks, 33.

And I also knew it was something bad. But I could not understand what she was saying. I

just hoped she was not saying that something bad has happened to the baby, her son:

six-year-old, high-energy Caleb Emanuel Banks. Plus, I was hoping she had not gotten

physically hurt in some accident or attacked by some criminal.

"Wait a minute, baby," I said. "Slow down and speak more clearly because daddy

can't understand what you are saying."

"I just got laid off," Noelle said.

OUCH!

Yes, it then hit me and it hit me hot, heavy, hard and horribly. It hit home. It hit

my heart. I hit my head. It hit my gut. It hit my lungs and took my breath away. I hit so hard

that it stunned me. It hurt.

"What? Oh no! Lord, have mercy. Oh no," I said in agonizing amazement. Yes,

these economic hard time plaguing our nation finally made their way to my house and

pained me deeply, up close and personal.

I could feel her hurt, his fears, her anger, her anguish, her shock, her horror, her

grief and, yes, her prayers to God for relief and rescue in her tearful voice.

As soon as she reported to work Tuesday, at a nationally famous downtown

personnel consultant firm, she was called in, told that the company's economic hardships

were such that she had to be "laid off." Her year years of working for them had now come

to an abrupt, cold-blooded, heartless, thankless end. So they took her Blackberry, her

laptop, her ID card and promised her a courtesy care package of five weeks of severance

pay and five weeks of group medical insurance for her and her son and threw her out in

the cold to join the growing miserable, multitude of multimillions of unemployed headed

toward pennilessness and homelessness.

Noelle is a daddy's dream. She is sensitive, caring, sharing, loving and kind. No,

no. no.....I am not saying these things because she is my daughter. I'm saying these

things because that is who she really is. And all who really know her know I am telling

the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Noelle is a mainstream, Christian single mother, old-school to a fault. She has

never been married and has never been a party girl. And her love for Jesus, for her son

Caleb and for her church and family are unquestioned. Heck, she may be even more

faithful than me, her preaching daddy, whom she not heard preach in years.

She is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She is beautiful, witty, fun-loving and

very, very family-oriented. She suffered a brief academic setback at U. of I., but righted

herself through summer school and kept working until she recovered and graduated from

the U. of I. If there is anything her mother Joyce and I wanted to see done with each of

our three daughters, it was making sure that you got a college degree before there ever

got married or pregnant. God blessed us to have that happened.

Noelle has always been the most active Christian and the most talented musically.

She has the singing voice of an angel and has been a member of her church's praise

team for years. She wants a boyfriend and husband most dearly. But not just any ol'

boyfriend or husband. She'd love to have a Christian companion or just a decent, good,

hard-working many who will love and respect her and her son and appreciate her love

and her humanity in return.

Like so many of you other, good young women and men, she has played by the

rules, conducted herself as a lady and a committed professional. A couple of years ago,

she moved into a modest condo in the south suburbs, enrolled Caleb in a private school

and was enjoying a simple happy life of praising God, working her job and enjoying her

family. Then came terrible Tuesday.

"I just got laid off" was her tearful utterance. It has tormented me ever since and

will continue to do so until somehow she is restabilized as a gainfully-employed single

mother with restored self esteem and hope.

So what's a father to say to his daughter or son when he hears those words and he

knows that that child of his is a good person, a hard worker, an outstanding parent, a

strong Christian and a responsible, honest American?

"I love you," I told her. "God loves you. Your family is behind you. Please don't blame

yourself and beware of false comforters. Your family is here for you. But most of all, God

is here for us."

I'm sure the first thing she thought of when she got laid off, the thing that made her

cry the most, were thoughts of her son Caleb. You should see them. They are one heck

of a mother-son pair. They are truly a great American family. There isn't a day that goes

by without each of them calling out to the other at least a dozen times from room to room

to say, "I love you."

Her greatest joys are his happiness and good health. His greatest joys are her

happiness and good health.

So I'm sure she wondered, "What about my baby? How am I going to take care of

him, now? How can I now send him to a good school anymore where I can be confident

that he will be in a safe, wholesome environment? How can I make sure he gets good

clothes and food? And what if I get sick or he gets sick? Now we have no health or life

insurance. Oh Lord, what am I going to do?"

Well, thank God that she still has a mother and father who love her and are

committed to doing what we have to do for the long-term best interest of her and our

lovely grandson, who just loves his grandmother Joyce to no end. She loves him

dearly in return. And, yes, I love my grandson Caleb even though he often refuses to

talk to me when I call. My other grandchildren, Nicole's kids--Lauren, David, Timothy

and Nina--they'll talk to me any time.

So I have another burden to bear. And yet, I'm still thankful to God because you

know and I know that things can be far worse than they are and eventually they may

turn far worse. But by the grace of God and through our faith in God, we are going to

make it some way, some how. I pray that all is much better with you and your family.

God bless you and yours. Pray for us, please, and I will pray for you in return.

By the way, my youngest daughter, Natasha, is doing well. She just earned a

promotion and relocation to Atlanta, where she is trying to overcome homesickness.

Tashi is so sweet and caring. She checks on me several times a day. She really loves

her mom and dad.

God bless you.

God bless you.

For more than 65 years, the heart my mama and daddy teamed up to give me at

birth has kept me alive with millions and millions of beats pumping oxygenated blood

throughout my growing body in all kinds of weather and through good times and bad

times.

For more than 65 years, my heart has been my best friend and the very soul of me.

For more than 65 years, my heart has given charitably with the most generous

hearts in the world.

For more than 65 years, my heart has loved with the best, sung songs with the best,

written poems with the best, laughed and cried with the best, enjoyed music with the best,

written and preached sermons with the best, prayed to and praised God with the best.

For more than 65 years, my heart has defined me, inspired the best in me and

driven me to be the best that I can be.

For more than 65 years, my heart has been my best counselor and confidant. Some

of my greatest conversations have been with my heart and some of my best advice has

come from my heart.

My heart won the heart of my high school sweetheart, Joyce, and we have been

happily married for more than 40 years after our seven-year courtship.

Now, here I am once more a patient in the University of Chicago Hospital praying

to God and trying to get His doctors to use all their God-given know-how to help save my

poor heart that has grown weaker and appears to be on its last legs.

Unless the Lord heals me outright or through UCMC's academy of celebrated

physicians, I may have to say farewell to my heart in the next few months and have it

replaced by a mechanical, turbo-power heart pump, which UCMC Chief Cardiac

Surgeon Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam says is highly advanced, greatly-efficient, whisper-

quiet, silky smooth and tremendously durable.

Yes, I still have hope that God will heal and salvage this heart. At least, that has

been my prayer since I started this blog 10 months and 44 entries ago. At the same

time, I have been trying to do my best and trust God for the rest.

Wednesday night (March 12, 2009), I was admitted here again for new treatment

because, while my brain cancer is benign and my prostate cancer is in remission through

radiation treatment, my end-stage congestive heart failure has not progressed as well.

Two weeks ago, shortness of breath and fatigue again began to plague me, slow

me down, steal my sleep, suppress my joy and threaten my life. So to stay ahead of

things and not take anything for granted, I returned here to have the likes of Dr.

Jeevanandam, Dr. Allen Anderson, Dr. Matthew Sorentino, Dr. Savitra Fedson, Dr.

Kathy Wright, Dr. Alexandria Dunetriseu, Dr. David Miller, Dr. Jonathan Paul, Dr.

Sandeep Nathan, Dr. Neal Ray, Dr. Stuart Chen, Nurses Joly Jose, Cora Palmer, Cora

Tharps-Wilson, Melanira Ortez, Williams, Florita Lanier and Antonija Novakovich lend

their respective collective expertise in helping me resolve these serious health issues.

Thus, my weekend is being spent here going through a battery of tests to give

doctors an update of my heart's health and what can be done to relieve me of the fatigue

and shortness of breath. If some changes in my medication can do the trick, we will

explore that option. Otherwise, since my cancers eliminated me from heart transplant

candidacy last year, I may have no other choice for the pump since doctors here feel

my natural heart is too defective, too enlarged and too weak for something like a mitral

valve repair or replacement to do it much long-term good.

When I thought of the prospect of saying goodbye to my heart, I broke down and

cried in my hospital room just as most of you would if you were faced with the same

situation.

In fact, pause with me for a moment and just imagine yourself having to say

goodbye to your heart because it has given out after years of hard work and suffering.

For me, years of high blood pressure, emotional toils, trials and tribulations, burdens and

sorrows have placed tremendous pressure upon my heart because I have always been

a man of supreme passion and compassion. My greatest works I have always

endeavored to do with all my heart and from the very bottom of my heart.

A lot of people work through their minds, their muscle, their money and other

material resources. I have moved in cadence to the beat of my heart. In other words, if my

heart isn't in something, never expect my best.

So I ask you again Sisters and Brothers, could you really ever say "goodbye" to

your heart and not feel the greatest of loss?

Could you say "Goodbye" to your heart and not feel any pain? If your answer is "No,"

then you know where I'm coming from.

The Holy Bible says "from the heart flows the issues of life." The Holy Bible also

says that if confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe with our HEARTS that

God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. King David, the shepherd sovereign

and sweet singer of song, was revered as "a man after God's own heart."

God bless you.

Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2009 is the previous archive.

April 2009 is the next archive.

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