HUDSON — There was still a lot of work to be done when Gene Work felt the first signs of what he would later learn was a massive heart attack.
It was Saturday afternoon, in the hot, humid conditions of July. Work was trying to resod his yard before the homeowners association issued a large fine, according to a Facebook post by his wife, Melissa.
The final four palettes of sod arrived, then Gene Work began to feel ill. He went inside. Melissa Work said she knew something was wrong.
The 40-year-old husband collapsed onto the couch. His wife called 911.
In and out of consciousness, Melissa Work said her husband continued to worry about the grass. He had pawned his favorite gun to purchase the sod and if it wasn’t put down that day, it would all die.
"While he was having his heart attack, literally in and out of consciousness, he kept begging me to figure out the sod and have it put down because he didn’t want it to go to waste and die," the wife wrote on Facebook. "I calmed him and kept saying ‘Jesus will help us. It’s OK. Jesus will figure this out babe.’"
They didn’t want to get hit with the HOA fines, and 30-year-old Melissa Work — who needs a bone marrow transplant — had scheduled the painful and expensive procedure for next month. But she continued to reassure him that they would be all right, that it all would work out in the end.
Pasco County Fire Rescue took Gene and Melissa Work to the hospital. Gene Work’s brother, Mark Rouco, stayed behind. He was now determined to say as long as needed to replant the sod.
"Mark knew how important it was to Gene," said Melissa Work said.
As Rouco was back at it when he saw the two emergency vehicles that had treated his brother returned to the house. Rouco thought they were coming back to check on him — instead, seven firefighters got out and said they were there to help with the grass.
They knew that the sod would soon die while Gene Work wouldn’t be able to do anything about it in the hospital.
Together, they laid out the new lawn in just one hour.
When Gene Work woke up in the hospital, his wife told him that the firefighters had helped save the sod.
"They don’t know what family they just helped," Melissa Work said. "Gene said we had to find them and thank them, we had to tell everyone about this kindness.
"I mean, they saved his life and then came back to save his grass. That’s just so awesome."
The wife’s timing was also awesome. Doctors later told her that if she had waited any longer to call for an ambulance her husband might not have made it. They told her that there he had a significant blockage. He underwent surgery and had stents inserted.
Gene Work is now home and recovering.
Now they have to get ready for the wife’s procedure next month. Despite their struggles, though, Melissa Work appreciate the help.
"On paper, we’ve been dealt a lot of difficulties," she said. "But we teach our kids to look for the positives, and that is what this was. That’s what we’re going to focus on, and that’s what we’re going to keep with us."
"These men didn’t do this for any attention, they didn’t know what family they were doing this for, but we feel that we should return that kindness and tell people. We’re hoping to find them and thank them in person, too."