Thankful in Troubled Times

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

With the COVID-19 pandemic, economic hardship for many, civil unrest in numerous cities, and growing political division surrounding a tumultuous presidential election, this has been a trying year for everyone.

And going into the Thanksgiving holiday, many Americans are struggling with being thankful amidst so many trials, tribulations, and disruptions to their lives. But, according to one Carroll County family, times of trouble are the very times we most need to be thankful and focus on those things that are truly important.

Dave and Michele Jarrett of McKenzie and their family have seen more trouble than most over the past few months, but they are holding fast to thankfulness and their faith in a loving God.

FAMILY – The family of Dave and Michele Jarrett includes: (from left) son-in-law, Drake Richards; daughter, Morgan Richards; Michele and Dave; and sons, Evan and Zach

Back in April, when the whole country was in shutdown during the first wave of the pandemic, Michele’s brother, Andrew Bateman of Mississippi, died unexpectedly at the young age of 35.

Three days later, Dave was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“I thought I had a sinus infection,” said Dave, but, according to Michele, she had concerns that it might be something more than that and she expressed those concerns with the family doctor.

An MRI was performed, and a tumor was detected behind Dave’s right eye. Soon after, he was admitted to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.

At first, the doctors feared the tumor was a Glioblastoma – the worst possible kind – but a biopsy revealed that it was actually a very rare form of brain cancer called Ependymoma. Dave went under the knife, and doctors managed to remove 96 percent of the tumor. He then went thru a series of 44 radiation treatments in June and July to go after the remaining four percent.

Dave seemed to be doing well recovering at home, but then on the fateful date of September 11, he started exhibiting stroke-like symptoms and ended up back at Vanderbilt, where he was treated for swelling of the brain.

“Thanks to the power of prayer, the swelling has all but disappeared,” said Michele, though she pointed out that the type of tumor Dave has almost always comes back. “We are not out of the woods yet. So we are thankful for every single day we have together and don’t take anything for granted. Dave is very strong, not only physically but spiritually, and I have no doubt he can beat this.”

“The day I was diagnosed – that was a scary and disturbing moment,” said Dave, who added that he found strength and courage in scripture, particularly Psalm 23. “I have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death before, and the Good Lord has brought me through.”

Dave was referring to his year of active duty in Iraq back in 2005 as a member of the Tennessee National Guard. During that tour, he took part in numerous “hunter-killer” missions in which he helped search for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and booby traps set by insurgents along military supply routes.

“That got pretty hairy at times,” he said.

IN IRAQ – Dave Jarrett speaks with an Iraqi man during his 2005 tour in Iraq with the Tennessee National Guard.

According to Dave, he was never wounded, but he did have some near misses where the vehicle he was in was hit by small arms fire, as well as some close calls with IEDs. He recalled one instance in which his vehicle took an indirect hit by an IED that momentarily engulfed the vehicle in a ball of fire and lifted it slightly off the ground.

Among the soldiers that served with Dave in Iraq was McKenzie Guardsman Dusty Carroll, who was killed in the line of duty.

Dave said that it was his faith that got him through that time, and it is faith that will get him through his current trial.

“My faith has been forged in fire – the fire of combat and doing things I didn’t want to do,” he said. “But when you go through it and come out on the other side, you realize that God is there for you. When you see He has helped you through it, it builds that trust.”

Dave retired from the National Guard with the rank of master sergeant back in July of 2018 after receiving numerous commendations, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, and Combat Acton Badge.

Later that same year, Dave and Michele opened their own business – McKenzie City Florist & More – though since Dave was diagnosed, they have turned over most of the responsibility of running the business to their 21-year-old son, Zach.

Dave and Michele, who have been married for 30 years, also have an 18-year-old son, Evan, who graduated from McKenzie High School earlier this year and is currently a freshman at UT Martin, and a 25-year-old daughter, Morgan Richards, who lives in Union City with her husband, Drake Richards, and works as a labor and delivery nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Union City.

Dave says that his last report from the doctors was very good, but he will have to go back for checkups on the status of his illness every three months.

The Jarretts are facing another challenge going into the Thanksgiving holiday as both Dave and Michelle are having to quarantine themselves due to recent contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. And while they are not showing any symptoms of the virus, Dave said they are going to have to get creative in how they connect with family during the holiday.

“There are still a lot of things we can enjoy as a family,” said Dave, who recalled a couple of other challenging Thanksgiving holidays he had to spend away from his family – one in 2004 at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma as he and fellow guardsmen prepared to ship off to Iraq and the next November at the U.S. Air Force base in Tallil, Iraq.

“Even when we couldn’t be home with our families when we were overseas, we drew close to one another and enjoyed one another’s company and friendship. For that, we were thankful.”

Dave said he is definitely going to spend this holiday season taking stock of everything he has to be thankful for, including all the support, love, and prayers he and his family has received from the community and his church family at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie.

Dave and Michele Jarrett

For those looking for encouragement and inspiration during this holiday season, Dave pointed to a passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Thessalonica: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Related Posts

The Carroll County News-Leader is a full-service, premium newspaper and news website serving Carroll County, Tennessee. We take advantage of today’s digital technology to deliver you the news that matters to you in ways that are only possible in this platform and in print.
Contact us: [email protected]

© Copyright 2022, 84 Elks Lodge Rd. Huntingdon, TN