Originally printed in The Nashville Leader on Dec. 10, 2008

Dear Editor:

I’m the daughter of Roger Fike, the official who collapsed on your football field, Friday, Nov. 21.

How do you thank two EMTs or even an entire town? What are the words that are not only appropriate but fully convey what you are feeling?

Here’s my best shot.

My vocabulary has no words that truly express my gratitude for those EMTs, sorry I do not know your names, who saved my father’s life. According to the doctors at Little Rock Baptist Hospital, no one really lives after sudden cardiac death.

Howard County Ambulance Service“Those EMTs did their job perfectly and saved his life,” is what we heard from every doctor in Little Rock. I would attest that the EMTs did their very best. From the handoff to the emergency room personnel at Howard Memorial Hospital, to keeping Dad stable, to flying him to Little Rock Baptist; everything worked perfectly.

As far as I can tell, everyone did their very best job. Not everyone is good at their jobs. Most people have a job but don’t perform their best everyday. These people did; they performed perfectly that cold Friday night. You all should be very proud of what part you played in saving my dad’s life.

Let me tell you a little about the man you saved, my dad, Roger Fike. You saved a very caring, gracious, fair, loving husband, father, grandfather and football official.

Writing plenty of news stories myself, sometimes a life-threatening or life-taking situation brings out a writer’s inner-poet. The writer waxes prose about the victim as if he or she is an angel and has never done any wrong. I’ll try not to do that here. Of course, my father has made mistakes, we all do, but for the life of me, I can’t think of any.

Dad is just one of those guys who deeply loves his family. He lives by the well-being of his family and doesn’t jeopardize that for anything. He gave up plenty of promotions during his career to be there for me and my brother during our various childhood activities. It’s like he knew those times were the most precious, not a board meeting. He knew that being there front and center for my dance recitals meant more, being at band concerts for my brother meant more, being home during dinner to help my mother meant more.

My parents will be married 40 years in July. I call them the love birds. You know what I’m talking about – the birds who are two-to-a-cage and if one passes away, the other does so immediately from a broken heart. Those are my parents.

So you see, by saving my dad you saved my mother as well. Their relationship started out like a Hollywood love story. It was a blind date, with both not really looking forward to it. Who really looks forward to a blind date?

Mom didn’t remember his name. So she wrote “Roger” on her napkin. She thought it was a funny name. He thought she was beautiful and full of spunk, and remembered her name, Sunny, without a napkin.

They married in a backyard garden wedding with family and friends. They had two kids in the coming years. Sure, their relationship has gone through its own ups and downs; but I can truly say, they are lost without each other. My brother and I aspire to have our own relationships filled with such unconditional and long lasting love.

The love of our small family is one part that kept my Dad fighting through all the shocks of his heart that Friday and more shocks minutes after his quadruple bypass and heart valve surgery. The bigger part of what kept my Dad here on Earth is the prayers of Nashville, Ark., and all those who heard his story. My family believes God was leading us through this entire overwhelming process. We heard Nashville fans were praying and calling the hospital to see how Dad was doing. We heard people called into sports talk radio shows offering their prayers. God heard you, Dad is alive because of you.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 2, Dad is at home, resting. A true miracle. He is wearing a defibrillator vest as a precaution. He’ll visit his doctors in Little Rock in the coming weeks to see how he’s doing.
This experience brought us to our knees and shook our foundation, but as my dad said out of surgery, “The four of us are back together again,” and with prayer and faith, it’ll be
that way for many years to come.

Town of Nashville, you are now in my prayers.

Thank you in kind if you print this for the town to read.

Julie Fike