KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The holidays are not always an easy time for some people and that’s especially true for the family of a Knox County teacher.

A shocking medical event earlier this month turned the Forsyths’ world upside down with their matriarch fighting for her life.

“We’ve seen a slight improvement,” Tommy Forsyth said. “She’s still critical. We’re communicating by hand signals but she has now started mumbling words so it’s small but it’s thrilling to us.”

Tommy’s wife, La Rhonda Forsyth, is known for her work with children, her big heart and her personality.

“Always on the go,” Tommy said. “Always the first one to jump in and help someone.”

La Rhonda’s daughter Lindsey Forsyth said, “I would definitely describe my mom as quirky, joyful. She’s always happy and she wants you to be happy, so she’ll spread it.”

But right now, La Rhonda is battling a new challenge.

“It was a massive stroke,” Tommy said. “It was on the right part of her brain that controls muscle function. She still has paralysis on her left side. We’re just hopeful she’s going to be able to get back.”

According to La Rhonda’s husband, he says his wife’s stroke happened on Nov. 3 while she was on bus duty at Ball Camp Elementary School during the end of the school day. After a co-worker noticed La Rhonda did not seem well, the 59-year-old was taken to the nurse.

“Thankfully the school nurse saw it, immediately reacted, realized it was a stroke, and called 911,” Tommy said.

“At first obviously it’s a shock,” Lindsey said. “You don’t think it’s going to happen to you and your family but mom has done amazing. And so her doing amazing, and seeing how well she’s already doing from the start to now is encouraging to us. We kind of give it back to her so she continues on this path.”

For Lindsey and the rest of her family, they will miss helping her mom in the kitchen this Thanksgiving, but the Forsyths will be bringing La Rhonda some joy and comfort at the hospital as she has done at her home for so many years.

“It won’t look the same but we want it to feel the same because she still here with us,” Lindsey said. “She’s still responding to us. She could be in a lot worse situation and she’s not so we’re going to be thankful.”

“It’ll be us my two daughters, my son-in-law, we’ll have to alternate in and out of the room but we’re going to make it work and we’ll make the best of it,” Tommy added.

Loved ones of the Forsyths have organized a fundraiser to help cover medical expenses. To donate, click here.