Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bob Bergdahl helped save my eyesight


    My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Bob and Jani Bergdahl several months after their son Bowe was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009. Our hearts went out to them as parents.  We have four adult children of our own.
    Our friendship grew over the next three years and we admired their faith in God, their love for family, and kindness, respect and patience toward one another as husband and wife.
    On a Saturday in October 2012, I had my second detached retina and had to have emergency eye surgery in Salt Lake City.  I was cautioned by my local optometrist in Ketchum not to fly to Salt Lake because of the danger of changes in air pressure. My doctor also advised me to move quickly, or risk completely losing sight in my right eye.  My wife was back East at the time.
    We are just part-time residents of the Wood River Valley, and I considered who I might ask to drive me to Salt Lake on such short notice, since I was not permitted to drive myself. I immediately thought of my friend Bob Bergdahl.  He knows so many people in the valley because of his many years as a UPS driver.  

I consider it an honor to call Bob and Jani Bergdahl my friends.

    Thankfully, Bob answered his phone. I simply asked him to give me a few names of guys who might be ready, willing and able and wanted to make a few dollars driving me to and from Utah.  He said, “Steve, let me get back to you in five minutes”.
    Bob called me back in less than five minutes and said, “Steve, Jani and I just talked about it, and I am going to drive you to Salt Lake City—no charge.”  I was very grateful.
    Bob picked me up at my home in less than one hour and we began the 300-mile/five-hour trip to Salt Lake in my SUV. The conversation, as always with Bob, was friendly and spirited as we talked about family, sports, our mutual Christian faith, and his son Bowe’s situation. In October 2012, Bowe was well into his third year as a P.O.W.
    We arrived in Salt Lake City around 6 p.m. on Saturday evening and the emergency eye surgeon on call performed a procedure to help stabilize my eye. Bob was right there in the room with me, encouraging me, as I was only under a local anesthesia.
    On Monday, the full surgical team was available and they performed the delicate procedure of reattaching my retina.
    Another senior eye surgeon did a full exam on my right eye on Tuesday morning and gave me a “thumbs up,” and then Bob drove me the five hours back to Ketchum.  
    Bob was extremely helpful the entire three days and nights in Salt Lake City.  While we were away, Jani had to handle all the chores and errands that Bob usually takes care of back at their own home in Hailey.
    I wanted to pay Bob for his time but he politely and firmly refused. I have found Bob and Jani to be very kind and gracious people. They helped me in my time of great need.  This was at a time when they were seeking their own help from others in positions of authority to get their son Bowe home safely.  
    I consider it an honor to call Bob and Jani Bergdahl my friends.

Steve Powers is a part-time Ketchum resident.

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