'50s Music Legend Brought to Tears Over News of Grandson's Tragic Accident
Lindy Boone Michaelis received a call in the middle of the night. “I heard my sister Debbie’s voice, and I knew something had to be very wrong for her to track me down on vacation like that. Her tone of voice was serious. And very quickly she let me know it was Ryan; that he'd been hurt badly.”
Six thousand air miles and 24 hours later, Lindy Boone Michaelis walked into UCLA Medical Center’s ICU. There she faced a mass of swollen and broken flesh, hooked up to tubes and machines. It was her 23 year old son, Ryan. He had been tanning on a rooftop when he mistepped on a skylight and plunged 40 feet through a stairwell to the bottom floor.
Lindy remembers, “It took all of the emergency room heroics to try and keep him alive.”
“36 pints of blood. Just as fast as they could pump it in, it was coming out his body cavity”, recalls Lindy’s father, and Ryan’s grandfather, legendary entertainer Pat Boone.
He remembers gathering the family in the waiting room where they prayed and received updates from the surgical team. “One of the surgeons came in and said soberly to Shirley, my wife and Lindy's mom, ‘You know, we're doing everything we can, but I’ve got to tell you that anyone hurt this severely is probably not going to make it through the night.’”
But he did make it through the night. By now Ryan was on life support and in a coma.
Scott Ross, 700 Club Special Correspondent asks, “What was the prognosis from the doctors at that point?”
Lindy responds, ‘There was a severing of the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain. He (the doctor) said he'll most likely be in a persistent vegetative state.”
Pat Boone adds, “Ryan’s dad, Doug, spoke up quickly for all of us, ‘Doctor, we appreciate all you're doing, keep doing what you're doing. You're the medical team, we're the faith team, let's work together.’”
The Boone family had no idea how those words would be tested over and over again. In that first week even swallowing was a sign of improvement.
Pat Boone says, “To see his brain cooperate, though he was in a coma, to swallow was a very positive sign. So we clung to all those things.”
They also clung to their faith as weeks turned into months. Lindy wondered if Ryan would ever be the same. “I didn’t know, ‘Will I ever hear my son’s voice again? Will I ever know if he knows me?’ So it was excruciatingly painful.”
Lindy says while she never questioned her faith and she trusted God, there was one thing she couldn’t understand. "’Why Ryan?’ Ryan was on the verge of living for the Lord just with a complete lack of compromise. He was so surrendered to God that I was very puzzled.”
Ryan was Lindy’s oldest child and, according to her, he had always been passionate about his faith. By 23, Ryan had graduated from Pepperdine University, started a career in television production and he was engaged. Lindy: “Ultimately he wanted his life to point others to Christ, for his generation.”
…and then the accident.
Lindy continued, “I'd never seen anything that says we're going to escape painful situations in our lives and clearly my powerlessness was very evident there wasn't anything I could do to wake Ryan up.”
They could, however, ask people to pray. Pat and Lindy went on TV and made a public appeal for prayer. Little by little Ryan started showing improvement. After 4 ½ months Ryan could even track pictures leading doctors to declare he was no longer in a coma. But they didn’t know if Ryan had any awareness because he didn’t speak. Then, a breakthrough.
“He started to mouth words. He couldn't speak out loud but he would mouth and I would say, "Say mom" and he'd move his mouth.” And I'd say "I love you." “And he'd go (moving her mouth). Laughingly she recalls, “And it would be that subtle, but I knew he was responding.”
From there it only got better. Lindy remembers, “Ten months after the accident I saw his first smile and that was fantastic. I walked into the ICU, he was still hospitalized, and a smile came over his face.”
Pat Boone was encouraged. “So every little sign after that was an indication to us that God was at work, from within, you know, putting everything back together. He could have done it like that. (snapping his fingers). But he didn't choose to do it that way.”
Prayer and her family’s constant support gave Lindy and the family the strength to face the unknown. Without it, she says she would have lost hope. “Everybody pulled together and showed up at some point in time. My sister Debby; she was there every day at UCLA and supporting me with prayer, bringing her hymnal, singing.”
Pat interjects, “singing over him.”
Lindy continues, “We sang for Ryan an awful lot…an awful lot. My sister Cherry; she came and visited but she also knitted Ryan a blanket for his 25th birthday. She said, ‘Ryan, every stitch was a prayer.’”
After almost a year in six different hospitals, Lindy brought Ryan home. Progress would come slowly in blocks of time -- separated by months and sometimes years. Still every step is cause for celebration.
Lindy excitedly recalls, as we hear Ryan say, “Oh, my precious mom.” “He talks; He's got his voice. And his vocabulary is amazing.” “Oh, yeah”, says Pat Boone. “He can memorize verses of scripture” adds Lindy. Ryan pauses for a moment to read scripture, “For our light momentary affliction….”
Lindy continues, “This is one of the blessings of God that, I used to pray over him verses that were meaningful to me and I would just speak them, because I believe so strongly in our own words having creative power.”
And just recently, Lindy captured another milestone on her mobile phone from the deck of the family pool. She can be heard saying, “He’s walking in the pool. Ryan you are walking in the pool!”
With the help of his therapist Ryan walked for the first time since his accident 12 years ago. When she pushed the record button she didn’t realize the significance of the day. “After he did this and I got it on tape and I was showing it to somebody I realized "it's June 19th!" It's the anniversary of his accident! It was 12 years to the day – It just was, to me, such a sign from God.”
Lindy details more of Ryan’s crisis and the struggles of his long recovery in her book, Heaven Hears.
Grandfather, Pat Boone, agrees. “If we can continue to hold on for 12 years and see God continuing to answer our prayers - not all at once, but in progression - then maybe that'll encourage others.” Pat continues, “Because the Bible says, ‘Comfort one another in their affliction, with the comfort with which you have been comforted in your affliction.’ So we have been afflicted and we're being comforted.”