Mark and I were involved in a near-fatal automobile accident in April 1991. In that single moment our lives dramatically changed. Before the accident, Mark was a successful master electrician and I, an account manager for various condominium communities in Salt Lake City, Utah. With twelve years of experience in electrical work, Mark landed his dream job in Ogden, Utah. This led to a necessary move from our home in Sandy, Utah. The day of the accident was filled with excitement and anticipation for our new life in Ogden. We were committed to make a decision on which home to buy that Saturday afternoon, pressured by the fact that we had sold our Sandy home. It was scheduled to close in less than four weeks. While driving from one favored home to another in our small Hyundai Excel, we were broadsided by a full-sized pickup truck and pushed across the intersection into a power pole. Mark sustained several injuries, with the most severe being a Traumatic Brain Injury which rendered him comatose for three months. At age thirty-five he was given only a 5-10% chance to live, scoring one point from being declared brain dead. His recovery has been miraculous and we know every day is a bonus.
Life is now defined by before or after the accident, two very different lives. Before the accident, we enjoyed camping, horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, boating, skiing, and snowmobiling as often as time and expense would allow. We loved being outdoors. But since the accident left Mark wheelchair dependent, epileptic, with short-term memory loss – those activities are difficult. Nevertheless, we still love being outdoors, but enjoy it in a different way. Our activities now consist of gardening, summer concerts and plays and I still sneak in a bicycle ride or hike occasionally with friends and family. With Mark in his power chair, we enjoy a stroll along the Jordan River trail. We love the mountains, lakes and the ocean, but now enjoy them from our van taking long drives to and around them whenever possible.
First and foremost, I love being Mark’s wife. We have been married since 1979. He has a great sense of humor, works harder and has more patience than anyone else I know. His ability to endure is amazing and he loves life and people. Mark is appreciative of everything he has and inspires me to be better. He is a joy to be with most of the time.
On the other hand being Mark’s caregiver for twenty-five years out of those thirty-seven years of marriage is very hard work, double responsibility and there’s a constant weight of worry about health and strength. Despite, or possibly because of the hardships, our love and patience for one another has grown immensely.
Our two children, Christopher and Katie Mae, were eight and barely seven years old when the accident occurred. While they have some memory of their dad from before the accident, I wish they had more. My heart still aches when I think of their innocent lives and how it dramatically changed for them that April day. They grew with added responsibilities and their childhood was not what we’d hoped for. Nevertheless, I believe it made them better friends with each other. Their compassion for people with disabilities was enhanced. As young children they would run to open a door for someone in a wheelchair or the elderly, small acts of kindness, which make a big difference to someone in need.
Our children are the light of our lives. Because of them we worked harder to get better and tried to give them as normal a childhood as possible. They have grown into wonderful adults and Katie has added a son-in-law, Eldin, to our family. We appreciate the wonderful addition he is.
The Unthinkable – Details of the day of the accident
He Lives! – Mark’s coma experience
Family Makes Any Place Home – Family support with taking care of our two children
Rainbows – Family support through rehab
Home For The Holidays – Making our home wheelchair accessible for Mark
The Miracle of Volunteers, Part 1 – The help of our friends in Sandy, Utah
The Miracle of Volunteers, Part 2 – The help of our friends in Draper, Utah
Dad Creating Beauty After Tragedy– Katie’s account of the accident from a child’s perception
Dad Creating Beauty After Tragedy, Part 2 – Katie’s account as a teenager and adult