Hope Patience

Lorie’s Story, Part 3

Skiing The Swiss Alps?
Can't Possibly Be Gary Skiing The Alps

This is the third and final part to Lorie and Gary Sheffer’s amazing story of faith, hope, determination, indomitable will, and especially, Love.  Yes, it really sounds to me like a love story. Gary and Lorie passed the test we’d all like to pass, but wouldn’t want to take. Take it away Lorie:

One day a therapist asked the rehab group what their goals were. For one lady it was to be able to go shopping with her daughter, for another it was to make her own lunch, and for one of the men it was to be able to balance his checkbook. When Gary’s turn rolled around, he said his goal was to recover 100%. He wanted to ski, to in line skate, to run, and to return to his job as an engineer. It was around this time that I was taken aside and it was suggested to me that he might need some psychological counseling to help him come to terms with the reality of his situation. I said thank you, but I would rather work with him to reach those goals. Then they suggested counseling for me as well.

Three months after his stroke, I was running along side of Gary around a high school track. The fact that I ran for two miles still amazes us both most of all. We soon learned how insensitive and rude people can be when they see someone with a disability. I choose not to waste space discussing some of what we encountered.

After six months, Gary was able to return to his job. During his absence, they had gotten a new computer aided design system, so he had something new to learn in addition to trying to resume his old duties. Learn it he did. He got back up to speed and received a good performance review from his boss. When he was discharged from HealthSouth, he was still not satisfied with his recovery. Also, ski season was just around the corner. I made good on the promise I had made in the shock trauma unit on the day of his stroke; I got out my skies and we headed to the slopes. Less than a year after the brain hemorrhage, Gary took his first run down a beginner slope. One year to the day after, we took both of our kids out of school and spent the day skiing the slopes where the AVM had burst. Still, he was not satisfied. He went to another physical therapy facility and worked with them for another two years. They discharged him, but he was still not ready to quit. He found a neurological disorders therapy specialist at Johns Hopkins, Bayview Medical Center. She explained that neurological disorders can’t be treated the same as orthopedic injuries. Gary has been seeing her every three weeks for the last nine years, and he is still making progress. He spends time each day working on exercises, most of which are designed to encourage proper body mechanics and automatic use. His motivation is what has gotten him to this point. On our most recent visit to Hopkins, his therapist got a bit misty eyed at the leap he had taken from the previous visit. She said that his gait was perfect. We know that he is pushing her to use all of her skills, and his successes are her successes as well.

Dreams reached: Walking, biking, skiing, speaking, understanding, working, seeing both kids graduate, having a grandchild, seeing our son get married, family vacations, back yard parties, holiday celebrations. My favorites? He now shovels and uses the snow blower, mows the lawn and washes our cars. Truth be told, I love this Gary even more than the person he was before the stroke. He is more patient and worries less about little things. He knows that although we were proud of his achievements, when they were all taken from him we still loved him for who he is and not what he did.

A few years ago, I sent a note to Gary’s neurosurgeon. I wanted to tell him that Gary had skied the Swiss Alps with our son, who is now attending the same medical school as Dr. Krzeminski himself had attended years ago. I enclosed a picture and let him know that anything is possible. I know when he saw that picture, he smiled.


Food For Families

Central Florida volunteers gather at a local High School every Thanksgiving Day morning to pick up and deliver boxes of food to needy Families.

Tomorrow will be our tenth year of this Thanksgiving Day family tradition.

A decade ago, and even before Cheryl was pregnant, I suggested to her that we find a way to show our children that we are here to serve and not to be served.

This is a simple, and seemingly insignificant act of kindness influences our thinking, and our actions, all year long.

A Publix Grocery Store Produce manager started Food For Families many years ago.  With help from Central Florida Churches, Schools, and community members, needy Families are identified.

The Central Florida Community also delivers Food for Families on Christmas morning and Easter morning, providing us opportunities to put others first on three special days where we traditionally didn’t.


Mid Life Diversity?

Mid Life Diversity. What makes us different is what makes us special. Where I’ve worked the past 25 years, we place a HUGE value on our differences. It’s the fabric of our great organization.

So, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. To me, it’s the single greatest day in the history of man.

Knowing full well that many readers do not believe in Easter, I would now like to wish you great JOY in whatever, and however, you celebrate anything that’s important to you.

I hope you get this sentiment. I can not tell you what’s important in your life, any more than you can tell me what’s important in mine. And by the way, this is called acceptance. We all need and deserve this from each other.

However, may I please be so bold as to say, at mid-life, we are giving an awakening of sorts. And once again, this doesn’t happen to everyone, including some reading this now. That’s perfectly ok.

Some of us admit to this stage in our lives, and choose to embrace it, or deny it. Others, for a variety of unknown reasons, will be unaware of it’s presence. Yet I yield to common sense. We all have a mid-life. It just doesn’t always look the same in every person. Here’s what I mean.

Fact, we are all born and we will all die, and somewhere, there is a middle.

A close relative gave birth to a son. He lived ten precious days before he left Earth. Did he have a midlife? I’m not wise enough to say. By all usual and customary thinking, probably not.

A high-school friend during our senior year, died in a tragic car accident. Did he have a midlife? Maybe. Probably. But it wasn’t the sort of awakening that midlife can bless us with, in my opinion.

Still another friend, my age (49), went to bed one night and never woke up. Did he have a midlife? Probably. In his case, maybe the beginning of his midlife turned out to suddenly be the end of his entire life.

If you’re still reading, thank you for your gracious attention.

Whatever midlife is, and whether you believe it exists or not, there is one fact that is indisputable.

We get one human life to do whatever it is we are supposed to do. One chance. One!

Quiz time. Name one person in the history of mankind that hasn’t endured some form of Hell on Earth? Life is full of pain and suffering, disappointment, loss. It can also be filled with joy and blessings, success, gain.

Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, all year, next year, and until I die, I promise to try to make the world a better place.

This Mid Life Celebration blog is one small attempt to enlist others to do the same. We can, we will, if we all work together. Carpe diem, jeff 🙂


Happy Good Friday

It’s taken me nearly 50 years to fully embrace what Easter is all about.

How long did it take you?

Do you even embrace Easter?

It’s certainly no one’s place to judge another, whether they celebrate Easter or not.

I just wanted to reinforce that a Mid Life Crisis is a perfect time to start thinking about celebrating something.

Finding something to celebrate, even in the midst of “a great depression”, could be the very thing that helps you survive and maybe even thrive. It has for me. Carpe diem, jeff 🙂