By Charlie Sacchetti
My daughter Rosie and I have always enjoyed our annual baseball trips. She is a Phillies fan in the most sincere sense, and it’s always fun when we go somewhere to watch them play. Included in those trips have been six jaunts to Clearwater, Florida, to see some spring training action. Originally, 2018 was to feature a return to Clearwater after a five-year hiatus in favor of seeing them play away games in Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, and a great trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. So the plans were all made to leave for Florida on March 21 for a relaxing, five-day trip to see four games in Clearwater, Lakeland and Bradenton.
Yep, we were all set to go!
Sunday, March 18, was three days prior to our departure. My wife and I attended mass, as usual, at 8 a.m. This also happened to be a day when our Holy Name Society sponsored one of its pancake breakfasts, held in the multipurpose room inside the church. As we usually do, we decided to attend the breakfast so we could enjoy Aunt Jemima’s creation and some pretty good sausages to keep the pancakes company. After the food and fellowship with the other parishioners, it was time to leave and get on with our day, which would later include a 6th birthday party for our grandson.
As we walked down the wide stairway leading to the main corridor of the church, I was about to step onto the last stair when I slipped and fell to the ground. As soon as I hit the floor, I knew I was in trouble, although, in that split second, my thoughts flew to how disappointed Rosie would be because there would be no trip to Clearwater that year.
My leg was locked at the knee, and I couldn’t straighten it out. Emergency services were called, and I was off to the hospital. Six hours later, I was sent home with a CT scan and X-rays which showed probable torn tendons and a small femur fracture at the top of the knee. I needed an MRI to get a better look in order to confirm the diagnosis. Two days later, the MRI revealed that I had ruptured three of my four quadriceps, and they would need to be surgically repaired.
As I awaited the scheduling of my surgery, I made all of the necessary calls to cancel the plane tickets, the hotel, and the car rental for the much-anticipated Phillies trip. I had purchased eight tickets, two for each of the games, and I wanted to make sure they were used. I emailed the four for the Clearwater games to a friend who lives there and who would have met us for dinner on the day we arrived in Florida. I decided to call the fire departments in Bradenton and Lakeland to see if any of their personnel would like to attend the games. It would be my honor to provide them.
I try to live a pretty faith-based life, so I don’t make a habit of questioning why bad things sometimes happen to me. I’m really glad I didn’t in this case because, out of this frustrating and very painful situation, I received a blessing in a matter of minutes from an unexpected source.
I Googled the Lakeland, Florida, fire department phone number and placed the call. A nice lady by the name of Ali Norton answered with a very friendly greeting. She listened as I explained the situation and my intentions regarding the tickets. She was very appreciative and said she was sure that someone there would want to use them. I suggested that she do so since the game was to be played on Saturday, March 24. Ali shared with me that she would love the tickets but would like to give them to her son, whose birthday was on March 26. I said, “Sure, Ali, go ahead and do that.” She thanked me several times, saying she wished she could repay the kindness. I replied, “You can repay me by saying a prayer for me that my surgery goes well.” She assured me she would, and we said goodbye after I asked her to let me know when the email with the tickets arrived OK.
In an email, Ali confirmed that she was able to print the tickets. And then she wrote:
I pray that everything goes well with your surgery. Here’s your prayer:
We ask You to give Mr. Sacchetti peace with this surgery that he will go through. Thank You that You blessed him with the great skills and wisdom of his doctor. We pray that this surgery will be a success, and please bless him in each step of his recovery process. Protect the wounds from infection, heal and restore any damaged areas, and help him rest, knowing that You are there with him to help him recuperate.
In Your name we pray, Jesus,
Take care, Mr. Sacchetti, and be careful!
It’s hard for me to explain how touched I was after I read that prayer from a total stranger who took the time to express her petitions in such a loving and sincere way. In the weeks that followed, I was blessed with many such prayers from friends and family alike.
After the successful surgery on March 26, my leg had to be immobilized for two weeks while the healing began. I would also wear a brace for nine weeks, day and night, to ensure I did not hyperextend my still-unstable knee area. Finally, I started a physical therapy program that lasted eight weeks.
As the therapy continued, my therapist was amazed at the speed of my recovery. After two weeks, I was able to shed my walker and cane. I could drive after three weeks. After six weeks, my surgeon expressed similar amazement. Two-and-a-half months after surgery, I was walking normally but prudently looking for handrails when I negotiated steps!
Back in 2018, as a 71-year-old, I certainly had no extraordinary physical strength. What I did have was the powerful prayers of many loving people who asked God to guide my every step during surgery and recovery. For that, I am grateful. IAH
Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books, “It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org