This moving story shared by a very old friend reminds me of an interaction I had with a teenager a few days ago. The teen told me she’d rather die than be blind. She said it the way she said everything, with certainty. I couldn’t let it stand, so I told her about Helen Keller, how Helen couldn’t communicate, had no idea what words were because she could neither see nor hear, and used to walk around the table grabbing food from everyone’s plate, until a dedicated teacher taught her, taught her about words, and she learned so well that she eventually wrote books and taught at Harvard University. As I told this young girl the story of Helen Keller, how she overcame the odds, I watched the teen’s expression change from one of absolute boredom and frightening cynicism to one of actual interest and a kind of hope. Here’s Steve’s story, and thank you, Steve.
When I saw my new house and the view of San Francisco, I cried. My wife & I had been living in a 1929, 2 bedroom, one bath home, and the new one, with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, was spacious, even if it was post-War schlock. We had a great year, that year, traveling to New York; Chicago; Cincinatti; Philadelphia, where I grew up; Sarasota, Florida; France; and Mexico. A year later, my dautgher was born. I was such a proud father, but the day before her first birthday, I had a stoke. I spent the next 5 1/2 years in hospitals, unable to speak because of a tracheostomy. My brother and his wife, and a few friends really rallied. I watched movies, did yoga, had a lot of books read to me, saw volunteers, and looked at the gorgeous view from the rooftop garden. The doctor in charge said I would never speak again. I went to LA for rehab, and the head speech doctor said I would not speak either, but a speech therapist believed in me. When I got home, I had my trach removed. After a lot of speech therapy, I did learn to speak again, although oddly, I can’t swallow well, and I can’t walk, and I have pain. Still, I’ve learned that love is really powerful, the brain is amazingly plastic, and most doctors know little, but mean well. I’ve learned that you can do all kinds of things if you want to. I’ve learned that there is always something to look foward to. I’ve learned that even with serious loss, life can be good & interesting.