Parents

Tornado Mom: My parent-to-parent chat with Obama

April 10, 2012 at 7:57 AM ET

Stephanie Decker, the mom who lost her legs saving her children from a deadly tornado, had a surprise conversation with the President recently. 

Stephanie was home with her kids when a 175-mph tornado ripped through Kentucky and Indiana on March 2, killing 36 people. Taking shelter in the basement of her Marysville, Ind., home, Stephanie threw a blanket over her two children and shielded them from flying debris with her body. They made it through without a scratch, but she nearly bled to death and ended up losing both legs -- one below her knee and the other just above.

She is blogging for TODAY Moms about her journey.

A couple of nights ago, I was alone in the dining room looking for a FEMA paper that I was missing. I couldn't find it and became distracted by this large bag of mail sitting there. I kind of get excited about the mail and packages that come to me, and at the moment those letters were "calling" me! 

Jeri White /
Stephanie Decker and her husband Joe, at home in Indiana.

I started going through and picking a few out to read.  I came across a "Priority Mail" letter. I looked to see who it was from and it said "White House." I had to look again. It couldn't have said what I thought it said. It said "White House... Washington D.C."  

Butterflies were in my stomach. Could this really be a piece of mail from the White House? I opened the letter, pulled out a small envelope with the White House emblem -- and started to shake. I carefully opened the envelope. What I saw simply left me speechless.

Right before my eyes was a HAND-WRITTEN letter from the President of the United States. I read his note, which expressed his concern for our family and his appreciation of protecting my children and just being a mother. I screamed for my husband, who was in the garage working. Kids were all asleep and I am very surprised I didn't wake them. However, I couldn't contain myself.  

Joe came running in, thinking that I was somehow injured. All I was doing was holding this letter, looking dumbfounded. He read it and looked at me like, this could NOT be real. But it was true. 

Not only did Mr. President write a note, but he gave me his personal assistant's name, direct phone numbers and email address. At this point, you can probably guess what I am going to do... and if it wasn't 11:30 at night, I would have done it, right then and there. 

However, it was late, so I was going to have to wait.

The following day I anxiously waited for Joe to get home before I called the White House to let the assistant know that we really appreciated the note. The President's assistant came on the line and was very nice. She asked how everyone was doing and if we needed anything at all. I mentioned that we would love to have the opportunity to speak with the President at some point, realizing that he is a very busy man. She put me on hold to check his schedule and shortly came back on the line saying he was available now! 

I was a blundering fool! I was not prepared, but there he was on the phone, as compassionate and caring as one could be, taking the time to speak with me about my children and my husband. Bottom line is, even though the President is one of the most powerful people in the world, he is still a father and a husband. He still has those fears that we all have as parents for our children -- when they are outside playing and they get too close to the road or when they are riding a 4-wheeler for the first time, that fear of them falling off or getting hurt. Suffice it to say that the President probably has more fears than we have as parents, with all of the lunatics out there in the world.

So, no matter what anyone thinks of how the President is running our country, what I took from my talk with him is that he is very compassionate and caring. He is still very much human, and has the same emotions that we all have. The thought of losing those who are the closest to us scares us to our core.

Mr. President, I do look forward to meeting you in the future.  As soon as I am up and walking, I look forward to visiting the White House and meeting your wonderful wife and daughters.

Back to that pile of mail: I must say, never in my life did I ever expect to receive so many letters from people all over the world expressing how much they care and praying that I get better. My perception of life and the people that live in this world is much different now. I see the GOOD in people. I always wondered if was actually there. It's a relief there is good in this world! 

I want to and WILL read each and every piece of mail that is sent to me. To give you some idea of the amount I am talking about, I just received approximately 2,000 letters. I will read every note, card, letter and post-it note that was sent to me. 

However, it may take me a little while to get to them all! 

Read Stephanie's previous blog posts:

Tornado mom at home: Humbled, healing, hopeful

I want to play with my kids again

Don't take a moment for granted

You all inspire me

  



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