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Boreal Community Media

A story of hope: One year later with Grandpa David

Jan 31, 2021 09:59PM ● By Editor
Photos submitted by David and Virginia Hahn

Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - February 1, 2021

What a difference a year can make.  On December 20, 2019, David Hahn, otherwise lovingly known as Grandpa David to the community, was admitted to Essential Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth for bleeding ulcers due to a hiatal hernia.  During the ambulance ride to Duluth, he was given two pints of blood and was there as an inpatient for five days before being released to come home.  

Over the next two months, David made three more trips to the hospital.  The last time he passed out from low blood pressure.  His terrified wife, Virginia, called 911, and David was readmitted to the hospital.  David was born with a congenital heart murmur.  He later developed kidney disease from high blood pressure.  The doctors told him that the medications that they were giving him were no longer working and gave the grim news that he only had a few days to live, as his heart and kidneys were shutting down.  They wanted to keep him in the hospital for end of life care, but Virginia and David wanted him to spend what were to be his final days at home.

According to Virginia, David’s wife of 58 years, when they were first married David was turned down for life insurance due to his heart condition.   She knew someday she would be here on earth and he would not be, but nothing could prepare her to be a widow. Virginia stayed by David’s side for his hospital stays.  Getting the courage to call her children and give them the news was heartbreaking.  The only blessing was knowing that David would not suffer anymore.

Miracles began to happen.  According to Grandpa David, “It was wonderful, all of the prayer requests”.  Pastor Kris from Trinity was with them in all four visits to the emergency room and followed Virginia, who was following the ambulance to Duluth. Teachers and children from Cook County Schools visited.  His children and grandchildren came back to see him.  Even with the grim prognosis, David said that he never felt that bad, as he went into the hospital in very good physical condition due to years of exercising. Virginia asked the doctors to allow her to take him home.  The doctors decided to release him as the medication change started to kick in.  Virginia took David home, and the situation quickly improved.  One of his close friends from college drove from St. Louis to Cook County to say goodbye, only to discover that David was home defying the odds. Virginia said that “it was like someone switched husbands with me over the weekend”.   

Today, they are at home in their Grand Marais condo, enjoying life together. They sold their home in Hovland two years ago and moved into town.   David works out at home, lifting weights and doing pushups.  He misses volunteering at Cook County Schools and is really hoping that after he receives his second COVID vaccination that he can return to working with the children that he loves so much.  

David is also famous in Cook County for his paintings of school sports teams.  During his career,  he was Art Director at Miller Publishing’s 6 monthly trade magazines in Minneapolis for 19 years and illustrated for Tel-E-Lect Inc. of Bloomington.  McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis was his first gig in tech art after just 2 years in art school. David and Virginia moved to Cook County in 2001 after vacationing here since the ’70s.

In today’s times, especially over the past year, where the news seems bleak and struggles are hard, Virginia and David demonstrate what love, faith, and hope are all about.  According to Albert Einstein, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”  Grandpa David’s recovery and Virginia’s loving support is Cook County’s miracle.   

 David drawing Stonehenge