On February 9th, 2015, the home of Norman and Mary Wallick on North High Street was damaged by fire.
Originally the family was expected to be back in their home in four to six months. Then they hoped for Thanksgiving. Now it could be mid-August.
It’s taken longer to get the two story brick home back to the way it was because of special work needed.
Once they get back home, Norman wants to have an open house to thank everybody. “During the first three months we had no want for anything,” says Norman from his temporary home on South Mulberry Street.
He praised the masons for helping them and locally all the people who bent over backwards to help. “We got money from so many people we didn’t know,” he added.
The fire is just one of the many events in the Wallick family’s lives in the past 18 months.
The fire came as the family was dealing with Norman’s failing heart.
Thankfully, with the help of a new heart, Norman was able to hold his 10 day old granddaughter Taytum in the Pride and Joy competition of the Ohio County 4-H Fair Baby Contest on Saturday, June 25th.
He had to fight back the visible tears as he held the newborn for the first time while wearing a mask, not wanting to spread any possible germs.
It was the first time he was able to hold her since her birth on Wednesday, June 15th. Baby Taytum Belle was all of 7 pounds 1.7 ounces and 19 inches long.
However, there were many moments that he thought that day would never come.
On October 8, 2014 he had a bad spell and was taken to Dearborn County Hospital.
He had extensive testing where his cardiologist found he had a leaky bicuspid valve. Norman had heart problems dating back to 1994 when he had an angioplasty.
This time it was discovered that he had a 65 percent blockage. Plans were to do a bypass but doctors met and determined his heart was not strong enough. He needed a transplant.
Monthly pressure checks showed it was not getting better.
On Jan. 13, 2015, he had gone to dentist when he received a call that he would be getting a LVD (Ventricular Assistant Device) on Jan. 28th.
He remembers thinking, “If it’s meant to be it will be, if not it won’t. Take it one day at a time and don’t worry about it.”
He made trips to the University of Kentucky every three months.
On Sept. 16, 2015 he was put at the top of the transplant donor list. He remembers he was at a masonic lodge dinner on his son (Norman) Bub’s birthday (Sept. 19) when the phone rang. They had given him a number that would pop up but it was an 859 number.
“Dr. Tessmann said ‘I’ve found you a new heart.”
I said, “OOO K. Happy birthday Bub. We’re going to Lexington.”
They did blood work and at 6 a.m. n Sept. 20th he underwent the 13 hour surgery.
“I was under for two days,” he remembers. “There was a bright light and I saw a very distinctive image. It was my entire family. I went nuts. I was thanking God, Jesus.
“This is the best day I ever had. I am the happiest man on earth,”he shouted. “The nurse said Mr. Wallick you have to calm down. Your blood pressure is too high.”
He had two days of rest before 18 days in the hospital then two weeks in a nearby University Inn. It was the best two weeks as he and his wife Mary learned a lot about each other, more than in 32 years of marriage.
He hadn’t lost his humor either. He tells a story of how he tried to eat peas with a fork and dropped them on himself. “I just peed all over myself,” he yelled. They gave him creamed peas after that.
While recovering in Lexington, he got a text from LeeAnn. It said, “I’m pregnant.”
On Oct. 18th Bub was at the Green Bay Packers game against San Diego. “Green Bay stopped Phillip Rivers short of scoring to end the game. I yelled Hee Haw.”
Since then he has made monthly trips for biopsy and all have been good.
Doctors said he would be on insulin but had just one shot and that was when he ate too much spaghetti.
“I’ve learned to do the things that need to be done,” he admits.
If nothing else could happen, on March 2nd he got a phone call from LeeAnn that she had been in a bad wreck on SR 56. He rushed to the scene.
Then in April he lost 14 pounds. He had contracted a CMV virus. They
did not know if it was from him or the donor.
After 10 days in Lexington, he came home with an IV.
Then on a cool and damp primary election day (May 3, 2016) the former Rising Sun city councilman reported a cold chill and a temperature of 103.5. “I could have possibly had a massive stroke,” they thought.
Finally, after another five days of sticking, prodding and probing he was able to come home in time for Taytum’s birth.
With the joy of a new heart, a new grandchild and looking forward to getting back into the old house comes the hurt of knowing that a young man had to die.
The heart came from a 28 and a half year old from Lexington.
He was a mason, reports Wallick. “I always believed masons take care of their own.’
Fighting back tears, couldn’t handle reading the letter from the young man’s family. “I haven’t been able to write to tell them how grateful I am,” admitting he has spoke to several ministers finding out how to deal with it.
He has been trying to help others. His number is on file at Christ Hospital and at UK. They have called and he has met with 20 to 25 people working through the process and helping to deal with the biggest issue, the waiting game.
Norman has always worked to help others. He was adopted at nine days old. His parents had lost a daughter one day old in 1941 and a brother died at 18 months.
He wasn’t interested in his biological parents although he noted that he went to school with his half sister. His biological mother lives out west.
“I was chosen by my mom and dad,” he says with pride. “I talked to a lot of bitter young kids (40 to 50 over the years) who would fight with their adopted parents and they would say I want to go back.
He learned of being adopted by his parents reading books and telling the story. He lived in Patriot during the 1964 flood. He graduated from Switzerland County High School in 1972 in one of the largest classes (112), HE went to Indiana State for a year before heading to Purdue. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in animal science and ag business.