Rodney and Ellen Riggs 1975 to 2015 and counting!

IMG_3868It began without warning. Chest and abdominal pain – a trip to a local hospital and a transfer to a regional one. The doctor said, “I don’t think you’ll make it through the night.” Rodney Riggs, sixty-eight years old, was told he had necrotizing pancreatitis. His pancreas was eating away at itself. The hospital doctors decided to transfer Rod to the Cleveland Clinic Surgical Intensive Care Unit to have emergency surgery to forestall the destruction of his pancreas. The doctors told him he had a 9 in 10 chance of not making it through the surgery. That was about March 2, 2015. Rod never had to have the surgery. Most believe that it was the prayers of so many that stopped the pancreas with about 30 percent still functional, just enough to live on. While he battled the pancreatitis, infections and fevers haunted him. Then again, without warning, Rod suffered a debilitating stroke which made his entire left side non-functional. Weeks would drag into months as the roller-coaster ride of infections and fevers would drive Rod deeper into trouble. Eventually, he was transferred to a specialty hospital on the sixth floor of the Mercy Medical Center in Canton. It is now spring time. Rod’s wife Ellen, Elly, had been working, trying to get to the hospital as often as she could while struggling with her diabetes and high blood pressure, remnants of a mild stroke she had suffered years ago when she had a non-malignant tumor removed from her brain which also left her deaf in one ear. Then it came. The phone call that Elly had collapsed at work. She was taken to a special unit of the Akron General Hospital where it was learned that she had suffered a shower of strokes and was severely incapacitated. Eventually, Rod and Elly would be both in the specialty hospital at Mercy in Canton and from there they were transferred together to the Bethany Nursing Home, also in Canton for more focused physical therapy.
The months of hospitalization, the confusion that strokes bring, the unbelievable stress that comes from having your life completely pulled out from under you began to take their toll on both Rod and Elly. Depression and anger, both natural parts of the grief that comes in dealing with such a loss; was worsening. This was an incredible double loss. Neither of them could count on the other to help them because each was helpless on their own. Rod celebrated his 69th birthday at Bethany. Elly had turned 69 in April while Rod was hospitalized in Cleveland. There was hope and a desire that when Rod and Elly would celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on August 26, 2015 that they would enjoy it in their own home. God is the only one that can foresee that timing. But on July 15, 2015 Rodney called his brother Ross, an ordained minister, and asked him if he would be willing to come to Bethany and officiate as Rodney and Ellen renewed their wedding vows. And that is just what they did. IMG_3866
Many times, young people speak their wedding vows and the words, “for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health” just roll off their tongue without much more than a passing thought. When Rod and Elly spoke those words this time, it meant a great deal more. We celebrate with them and thank God for their love and their desire to go through whatever lies ahead, together.

One thought on “Rodney and Ellen Riggs 1975 to 2015 and counting!

  1. Congratulations to Rod and Elly! They have been through so much. I hope they are doing better now. Mike and I celebrated our 39th 2 days after their celebration.

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