“It will be a blessed Mother’s Day for my kids, my granddaughter, my wife,” Grady Nolan said, his voice cracking slightly. “And for me.”
The holiday will be all the sweeter to the Nolan family of Demorest, after his wife of 52 years, Peggy Nolan, recently survived cardiac arrest.
On the evening of April 2, Peggy had just returned from her daily walk around the neighborhood and sat down on the couch to resume stringing beads for a piece of jewelry she was making.
“She felt something,” Grady said. “But then as soon as she felt it, she made a comment about ‘What just happened?’ And then she passed out. Of course, I thought at first that she’d had a stroke and I went over. Her eyes were still open and I looked at them and thought ‘No, it wasn’t a stroke, it was a heart attack.’”
Grady Nolan immediately called 911. He picked his 69-year-old wife up off the couch and laid her down on the floor and began giving her CPR.
“Then I asked the Lord to help me,” the 71-year-old husband said. “I felt that peace come over me where I wasn’t afraid of anything and just started CPR and talked to the 911 operator until the first responders got there.”
It had been at least 15 years sine Grady Nolan had taken a CPR course. He’d been trained to handle emergency situations through his career with the U.S. Forest Service.
Grady said he just did it “old-school” and trusted in God to help him save his wife.
The first responders arrived and carried Peggy to Habersham Medical Center. She was later taken to the Ronnie Green Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where she had a triple bypass heart surgery.
Grady said a doctor later told him only 10 percent of people who have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital live to talk about it. Many of those who live have some form of brain damage.
“We are mighty proud of our 911 emergency first responders and of Habersham Medical Center up here for doing the work they did to get her ready to go to Ronnie Green,” Grady Nolan said. “ ... We feel that they’ve done a fantastic job.”
Peggy Nolan is now wearing an external defibrillator in case her heart stops again. The machine will jump start her heart with an electrical shock. With the help of her husband, she’s resumed walking short distances for exercise and said she’s feeling great.
“Grady is my nurse and my coach and all of that,” Peggy said. “And my hero.”
She said she knows how close she came to death and she’s “grateful for every day.”
While some people might find the thought of a close encounter with death frightening, Peggy said her faith has helped her overcome any fear and to embrace the time she has.
“We know that God was in control,” she said. “He always is, but he was certainly in control of what happened. That’s how (Grady) was able to save my life and I believe he did that.”
The couple have two children, Deborah Nolan, Todd and his wife Tammy Nolan, and one 10-year-old granddaughter Sarah Nolan.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, the entire family will get together and enjoy a meal after church. They plan to take a trip to Alaska this summer.
Todd Nolan said his father has always been his hero, but now more so than ever.
He said he’s always felt close to his parents but has a new appreciation for them both.
“I love them,” Todd said. “I love them a lot. You don’t realize it. We get caught up in our daily routine and we take things for granted.”