Tuesday January 15, 2019, began like any other Tuesday. At 8:10 my wife, Mary, as she always does, reminded me not to forget anything I would need for my morning shift at the library. And boy do I need those reminders a lot! So with my hearing aids on and my bottle of water in hand, I felt prepared for my usual Tuesday. “Goodbye, Mary, I’ll see you around 1:15.” “Goodbye, Jack, hope your morning goes well.” And it did go well – busy as Tuesday mornings always are — working side-by-side with my friendly team of co-workers. And then 1:00 arrived, followed by a 15-minute ride home. Nothing unusual there.
Opening the front door of our house, I heard a faint “Jack.” OK, check the likely place where Mary usually is: the kitchen, perhaps readying my lunch, a lunch which is always part of my Tuesday routine before leaving the house again, this time to drive to Hatboro for my Tuesday afternoon radio show “Swing’s the Thing” on 89.3FM WRDV. Nope, not in the kitchen. Den? Again no. The faint voice must have come from a bedroom upstairs then. Well, this is strange, the bed hasn’t been made. She never naps. What’s up? And then, upon entering our bedroom, I saw why. Mary, still in her pajamas, was sitting on the floor, head leaning against the side of the bureau, and she was confused, and she was incoherent, she was disoriented, and her facial features were distorted. I was at a loss to understand what was happening to my poor wife.
The ambulance arrived quickly after my 911 call, and that’s when I was informed “Your wife had a stroke.” OhmyGod, OhmyGod, OhmyGod. And I thank God for all that happened afterwards: the check of her vitals once she was lifted to the bed, the stretcher to the ambulance, the quick three-mile ride to Abington Hospital, the urgent admittance, the rush to get her to a neurologist’s table, the procedure, which I found out later, would remove a blood clot blocking an artery in her brain, the same wonderful doctor, Dr. Shah, finding me in the waiting room to tell me he had successfully removed the clot, my tears of joy while hugging him, and then, and then, wonderfully, miraculously, her day-by-day improvement, first three days in the Neurocritical wing, and then in the Rehab wing, where she will have been discharged after one week by the time you read this. She has a lot of work ahead, but compared to her state the first couple of days, she has come so far, and I am so relieved to have witnessed the transformation.
I was not alone. Friends and family rallied to her side. Our son drove up from Virginia for the weekend which was wonderful medicine for his mother. And I can’t say enough about our library staff and how supportive and helpful they have been. Trust me, I won’t be going hungry anytime soon after sending me home – on several occasions – laden with homemade meals to help me, and now Mary too, till she’s fully back on her feet. And I’ll always remember Judy’s answer to me when I first hesitated, saying no, that’s alright, I’ll be fine, really. Her reply? If you say no, you’ll be stealing their blessings. What could I say to that?! In that case, sure I gratefully accept your generosity. And it wasn’t just the food, but the concern by all, the words, the prayers, the compassion – all real, all genuine, from genuinely nice, caring people.
Know that I give thanks that I work where I do with terrific co-workers and wonderful patrons. I could not be in a better place for a “retirement” job. I give thanks also for Mary’s wellbeing. As I was waiting for the doctor to inform me how the procedure went, I read in the literature given me that with a stroke every minute counts. In her case it had been six hours! Was there any hope? After one week, I know there’s hope, there’s help, there’s strength, and there’s love. I have experienced it all in a week I will never forget.