Christmas is believed to be a holiday filled with compassion, generosity and yes even a miracle or two.  Traditionally, it means to spend time with the ones you love and for the Spakes family, this year’s Christmas reflects just how very blessed they are to be together. 

Christmas is believed to be a holiday filled with compassion, generosity and yes even a miracle or two.  Traditionally, it means to spend time with the ones you love and for the Spakes family, this year’s Christmas reflects just how very blessed they are to be together. 
Last year, their then 14-year old son, Nathan, was in a 4-wheeler accident that left him in critical condition.  Nathan was reported to have been traveling on Phillips County Road 304 when he apparently accelerated too fast while reversing and was thrown off a 4-wheeler, which landed on top of him.
“We were fearful that we would lose our son that day,” recalled his dad, Ryan Spakes. 
Nathan was rushed to The Med in Memphis by helicopter and underwent a dual-craniotomy to help release some of the pressure from his brain and then was placed in a medically induced coma with no brain activity.
“The extent of the damage to his brain was unknown at that time but we were hopeful,” recalled Nathan’s mother, Michelle Spakes. 
Nathan’s growing 14-year old brain relied on the best medical treatment for months and although his exterior injuries have healed, he faces extensive permanent rehabilitation. 
“His progression is increasing daily.  We see improvements in the little things like shaking hands, high fives, and even doing some of the basic day-to-day tasks,” reported Ryan. 
Nathan currently receives his rehabilitation at the Timber Ridge Neuro-restorative Rehabilitation in Benton, where he is enrolled in the local school district. 
“Right now, Nathan is re-learning the basic day-to-day tasks through physical, occupational and speech therapy fives days a week,” reported Michelle.  “He is re-learning how to write, and follow simple directions; everything he used to know, he is re-learning.”
Nathan is able to go home every weekend to have family time, but for now it is best for him to remain at the rehabilitation center.  For the Spakes, this year has been a real adjustment and a testament of strength, courage, and love.  “Nathan is still the same Nathan, his personality is still the same, he still has that boyish smile and the heart of a goofball,” Michelle stated. “But inside, he now reflects the mentality of a two-year-old.”
Michelle went on to say that now the Spakes are more understanding that things can happen in an instant and are more cautious.  Michelle reported that the fear of something happening to their other two children, 6-year old Dawson and 21-year old Justin, is constantly with her. 
“Being without Nathan every day has proven to be a challenge and I find myself more aware of what’s going on with my other two children,” commented Michelle.  Despite this life-altering change, the Spakes maintain a level of normalcy as Michelle is a home health care nurse and Ryan is a lieutenant for the Helena-West Helena Fire Department. 
“We try not to let the cards we’ve been dealt, hinder us from enjoying the time we have together, because God could’ve taken Nathan.  We truly are blessed,” said Ryan. 
The Spakes feel that they are also blessed to have friends and the community to stand with them in their time of need as shortly after the accident, the Spakes opened a medical fund account in which donations are still being made to help Nathan’s medical expenses. 
“We are very fortunate to have the support of everyone that helped us. Everyone at the fire department helped raised donations by selling Boston butts and we are so grateful to Coco Distributing that helped raise money for Nathan’s medical fund,” commented Ryan. 
The past year has been difficult but the Spakes family looks forward to the new year and the continued progression that Nathan is predicted to achieve. Nathan will have to undergo yet another surgery to place a titanium plate in his skull because the skull bones that were replaced have been absorbed by his body, much like that of a transplant being rejected. 
The Spakes are hopeful that in time, Nathan will be able to achieve the comprehensive and cognitive skills that he once had, but for now they simply live life one day at a time. 
“We understand, more now, that this life is not guaranteed to us, and that we need to cherish the time that we have.  Nathan may not be able to do the things he was once able to do, but we will gladly take him in anyway that allows him to be here on this green earth,” concluded Michelle.