Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Hidden Treasure

We live in a fairly small town and it seems everywhere I go I bump into someone I know who asks me about Mike.  It is nice so many people care, but I never really know what to say. I usually say he is well, but that can be a little confusing sometimes. For example, while Christmas shopping at Target last month I bumped into a fellow soccer mom from years ago. She was pleasantly surprised when I answered her question, "How's Mike?" with "He's great!” She assumed his illness wasn't progressing. I had to explain that his illness is progressing, but he is really good...on the inside.

It's more than the positive attitude I have written about so many times. He is the same "Mike" inside...funny, cheeky, silly, happy, smart! Even more than ever because he has all this time to focus inward, unable to focus or dwell on his outside, like people have a tendency to do. He has had time to think about what is important and what isn't. He has contemplated life...and death. There is prayer, reflection and examination going on inside. While the outside is weak and frail, things on the inside have been shaped, sharpened and shined...I think of it as hidden treasure.

There is a chest of treasure inside of him and I get excited when it’s opened. On a regular basis, communication is simple in one way and often challenging in another way for Mike and I and anyone interacting with him. He will look to his right toward the thermostat if he wants the heat on or off. He looks further to the right, over his shoulder if he wants his lap top. He will open his mouth slightly and look to his left if he needs suction. Saying "P" and looking toward the bathroom of course means he needs to go pee. I can understand quite a bit by the look in his eyes, the lifting of his eye brows, a certain nod or motion of his head and of course a big smile. We usually get by this way and it's good.

But what I love is when that treasure chest is opened and the wonderful world that exists in him is revealed. For instance, a while ago, Mike had a reaction to a new medication that kept him awake all night (several nights). We were both exhausted and frustrated because he was so itchy and I, the scratcher was unable to keep up with the itch and unable to understand where to scratch next. He was also restless and uncomfortable and trying to tell me what he wanted was gruelling...for both of us. I was so mad at myself for not knowing what to do. The next day, I had a Facebook message from Mike quoting George Costanza from Seinfeld. It said, "It's not you, it's me!" I laughed and cried. When he writes me a note on his computer or sends me a Facebook message, I think "there he is…there's my Mike".

I love hearing from him. He sends me messages to explain any earlier miscommunication. He'll write, "What I was trying to tell you before..." I had a message a few weeks ago from him relaying details of a dream he had. I'll be out and I'll get a message from him with his numbers for a Sports Action ticket. He messages me to tell me I'm doing a good job, that the insurance is due on the van and what he thinks we should give a dear friend in need for their birthday.

His last contribution to the blog, Ahoy Matey (June 23) reveals to us that treasure inside I speak of. The story contains historical information, education, wit, and a few corny jokes that he has told a few times's Mike! I loved reading that story then and I love it now.

Mike has a new communication device called a DynaVox. He uses the head mouse he has been using on his lap top to control the cursor and it's completely hands free. There is a key board of the alphabet and a variety of common words to choose from to spell out whatever he wants to say.  He can hit a "speak" key and the device will speak out loud what he has written.  On the weekend, with a group of us here celebrating Mike's "birthday week", we had a great time listening to Mike. He had us all in stitches. Our four year old granddaughter was especially amused. She hasn't really had any conversation with Mike. She was surprised and a little shocked to hear from him.

The following are pictures from the video I took of Leah listening to Mike (I was unable to up load the video to the blog). Mike was telling Leah to put the crickets she had in the turtle aquarium (she and her dad bought the crickets for her frog to eat but she wanted to keep them as pets instead). Mike was telling her that "turtles like to play with crickets; they ride them on their backs". She got a real kick out of that!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for is an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It was Mike's birthday last week (Jan 16). In his blog post, Hawaii Five Old, written two years ago, Mike tells about his achievement of reaching the age of fifty. He said that anything beyond 50 was icing on the cake (birthday cake that is). So I guess the last two years has all been icing. What a great way to look at life...pretty sweet! Hawaii Five Old is our most read blog post by the way...such a great read! His closing statement is: "We can't regret growing old as it is a privilege that many people do not experience."

Happy Birthday also to our friend Neil Hemming (Jan 15) who is also battling ALS...thanks for the
laughs buddy...keep up the good work!


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