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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stroke Update: Thoughts of Saturday Evening, 25 February 2017

As I reported in Facebook, I turned 73.5 years old today.😉

Next Friday it will be six months since I experienced the first symptoms of my stroke.  I sit here at my laptop and type in Blogger, largely with my left hand, but actually assisting with my right.  I am able to walk.  Today I drove my sweet old Hyundai Santa Fe to Walmart in Plymouth, then eschewed the powered carts and walked a regular shopping cart to both ends of the store in order to fulfill Shirl's list.  For a guy whose right limbs were totally non-functioning last September 5th (two days into my stroke experience), I consider myself blessed.  I was hemiplegic.  Now, I am much better-off.

Moving and using my right arm and hand still are challenging, and subject to limits of flexibility causing pain when I try to extend them.  My walk still has a bit of a limp to it, and my balance is still imperfect, making the use of a cane helpful.  But I can walk!  And I can wash with both hands!  And I see improvement every week!

Praise be to God!  And to all my loyal friends and family, thank you for your support!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Realization

Aging brings with it lots of nagging little irritations, such as stiff joints, aches and pains, and strokes.  One might be tempted to complain.  I cannot.

Our Creator has blessed me with an amazing life.  This blog and its predecessor (dcmcd.blogspot.com) report much about my blessings of the past decade, but those are but the latest in a series of blessings far too long to enumerate.  Please indulge me as I cite a few.

As a boy I was blessed to attend the outstanding Wilmette Public Schools, in Wilmette, Illinois, and to learn to swim at the Evanston YMCA, and in Lake Michigan at Wilmette Beach.  As a teenager at New Trier Township High School, I went out for their famous swimming team.  Coach Robertson timed me, as a freshman, in both freestyle and breaststroke.  I will never forget his looking at his stopwatch, then asking me, "Do you like to dive?"  Three years later, this was the outcome:

I was a pretty good student, at least after my first year, when my 2.50 first-semester GPA caused my father to insist that I quit the freshman swim team, and focus on my studies.  I guess his wisdom proved out, as I scored well enough in later years and on the SATs to be admitted to Amherst College in Massachusetts.  At Amherst I continued to dive, but got into motorcycling, and was, at best, only a so-so student.  In searching for a subject in which to "major", I took the first course in most of the sciences, as well as many courses in the liberal arts.  When the day came that I had to declare my major, I learned that there was but one department whose major requirements not yet taken would fit in my remaining semesters, and allow me to graduate in the Class of '65, and that is how I came to be a Fine Arts major.

I am not an artist.  But I had taken Technical Drawing at New Trier, and I knew how to use a T-square and triangle.  So, I took the general fine arts classes at Amherst, and an architectural drawing class down the road at Smith College, a famous women's college in Northampton, Mass.  In fact, I was working on an examination drawing in that class on 22 November, 1963, when a student opened the door to our classroom, and reported, "President Kennedy has been shot to death."  John Kennedy was from Massachusetts.  My classmates were appalled, and released from the exam by our professor.  I asked him if I might stay and complete my drawing, since returning would require another trip from Amherst.  He consented, and I did so.  I do recall, however, that in the perspective drawing I forgot to put a "vanishing line" in at eye level, and hence produced a ground-level view of the fast food restaurant we were drawing.  As it happened, I caught my own error, and labeled the perspective "worm's-eye view."  The good professor did not penalize me for this error.

So, I had sat through many slide shows and heard many lectures regarding the fine arts as practiced through the centuries, all around the world.  Hence, forty-five years later, when I visited the Romanian Orthodox churches of northern and eastern Romania, doing so as a visiting professor of business on a Fulbright Scholarship, I knew of the tradition of illuminating the walls with frescoes, a tradition that had led to such amazing murals as these:

 I was thrilled, therefore, when at the Putna Monastery in Județ Suceava, my students and I came upon the master painter Mihai Moroșan at work, creating exactly such a level of art.
The blessing of this chance meeting has only grown since that day, as Master Moroșan and his wonderful wife Waltraudi have come to be among my closest and most-cherished friends in Romania.

So, where am I going with this reminiscence?

I am in recovery from a stroke of 3 September, 2016.  I have come far, but was not until this week sure that I wanted to continue living.

It has been difficult since September.  Then, two days ago, the Lord visited my brain with the realization that He has been playing an active role in my life for many, many years.  I realized that I have Him to thank for the many wonderful interpersonal relationships I have had, the breadth of professional experiences I have had both in manufacturing and in teaching, my wide-ranging travels, the six marvelous children I have fathered, etc., etc., etc.

I told my beloved wife Shirl two days ago, "I am going to get well, and I am going to stay alive, because I believe that God has some use for me still, and I owe it to Him to stay alive to fulfill that purpose, whatever it may turn out to be."

Amen.