I was searching for something in our gmail inbox and found this letter instead. It’s from February 1, 2006 written by Billy. Henry is our nephew and he recovered from the accident after a long scary stay in the hospital, of which he has very little memory.
Dear W, Here is the update. Now please bear with me. Appearances not withstanding, what follows is not me rambling incoherently, or at least not more than usual. Ahem. My godfather and cousin, the late Paul Beatty Harlan (also Kate’s grandfather, but that is another story) owned and operated several successful dairy farms in Churchville including Homelands where David milked before building the new barn at Broom’s Bloom. Thirty five years ago or so a new relatively upscale (they like to think) development was built adjoining Homelands on the south side. In church one day, after a week where a field next to said development had been used to spread manure, a rather haughty woman approached Paul Beatty and said,” Mr. Harlan,the smell from your farm is atrocious lately. I can scarcely breathe. What do you have to say?” His reply, in that half-yell of the partially deaf was,” LADY, THAT’S the SMELL OF PROSPERITY!!!” He enjoyed telling that one until the day he died. The staff at the hospital told Ariel that the sense of smell is the last to leave, whether under anesthesia or just on the way out, and suggested they bring an object with a familiar aroma that would evoke a positive response, so David brought in a well used barn hat and placed it next to him, the barn of course being Henry’s second home. The response was swift. It may be an exaggeration to say that he was flopping like a fish on the beach, but David said that he began moving so much that they had to remove it for fear of dislodging the myriad tubes in him. Today they backed the machine down to 20% from 60% to see if he could take it. He did. Those numbers are basically the amount of work the machine is doing compared to what Henry is doing. That was good, and they then went back to the previous ratio in order to let his lungs continue to recover unencumbered. They also brought him out of sleep slightly and asked him to open his eyes. He did so. He was asked to squeeze their hand and this he accomplished also. Then they put him under again because of the whole tube thing. They intend to keep him under several more days before bringing him out. They currently feel that any brain damage is likely to be slight, if at all. Only time will tell, but signs are more positive today. Should things continue to go well, I intend to think of manure only as THE SMELL OF RECOVERY!! He is a long way from out of the woods yet, there is so much that can go wrong, and quickly wrong at that, and much uncertainty about the extent of the damage that will only be resolved after he wakes up, but we are feeling more positive today. Never underestimate the power of positive stinking. Pass it on.-WDV