It’s Christmas 2021. It has been 18 months since I had my stroke. My life has changed. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but my friends and colleagues make it easier to figure things out.
Because of my Aphasia, I worried that I would be stuck at my house because I hated being out in the cold weather. Last January and February, Becky and I rented in Boca Grande, Florida. We had a great time. I walked for at least two miles every day, played golf three times a week, swam at the pool, went to dinner, and we had great weather.
My friend, Tom McDermott, connected me with Mike Comis, who was in Boca Grande for a few days and looking to play golf. With two of us, it was easier to get a tee time. We played golf several times. We plan to golf again in 2022.
We only rented for January and February, and we realized that we wanted to do this again next year. At the end of February, we bought a place in Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. It is about one hour from Tampa.
We went back to Philadelphia in early March. It was nice to get back to see our granddaughter. Two months is challenging to go without seeing her. Helen is adorable. My ability to read stories for her is a lot of fun. Regarding my mistakes, reading was not an issue for Helen. She just brought another book to read again.
In April, I started to play golf again. I tried to play two to three times a week. I still suck, but it is a lot of fun. People at Torresdale are great, and tell them about my struggle with Aphasia. On October 31, I had a hole-in-one on the 14th hole. The guys that I was with were thrilled for me. I did not believe it until I got there and looked in the cup.
Going back to Cape Cod for 2021 was a change for me because this was one year since I had the stroke. From June through August, Becky rented a house in Cape Cod. It was different than the other places we rented in previous years. I went for about ten days three times each month and back to Philadelphia to play golf. I took a bus from Hyannis to Providence and an Amtrak to Philadelphia. It was easier than driving my car each time.
On July 4th weekend, Billy, Lauren, and Helen came up to the house in Chatham. The weather wasn’t great, but we had a lot of fun with Helen. She made our day.
During my visits on Cape Cod, I spoke to many of my friends about this summer – Char and Doug, Joe and Clare, and Mark, an old friend from Covidien. It was great to reconnect. I felt that my language had gotten so much better than the last year.
In July, Mike Ridley from Texas and my younger brother came back to Philadelphia for an Archbishop Carroll Soccer All-Class Reunion. I picked up Mike at the airport, and I drove to Carroll. We had a great time seeing a lot of our friends. Our former coach, Tom Gilmore, died last year, and his wife and daughters came to the reunion.
That Sunday, Mike and I played golf at Torresdale. He play much better golf than I do, but it was fun.
Because we went to Florida for three weeks, I did not go to any Penn State games in September. I was able to sell my tickets online for three games. I went to my first Illinois game in October and finished up with Michigan and Rutgers. I was nervous about my Aphasia with noises at games. It was not a problem. None of them were late-night games. Next year I might make a late-night game. My friends Char, Doug, Schnell, and Dave were a massive support for joining me at their house before and after the games.
Two dear friends passed away this year. My father-in-law, Earl Lewis, was 93 when we passed. He has been a good friend for many years. During the few months since I had the stroke, Earl and Elle called me every day to see how I was. Each day was a support for me.
Another person was Deirdre Gollop. She passed away during the summer on Cape Cod. She and Frank rented their cottage to us in Chatham for a few years. In 2020, I had a stroke, and Deirdre and Frank were tremendous help and support for Becky to help her through my time at the Brigham and then the rehab at Sandwich.
Each Christmas, I realize that each year was an excellent year with my friends and me. Even with challenges, it makes my life happy that you have been my support. Without my Becky, I don’t know how I would have made it since the stroke.
I hope you have a great Merry Christmas.