Stroking the Pain

Today I was watching Hope Floats, in which Sandra Bullock’s character dances with her father, who has suffered a stroke, in a nursing home.

This scene stirred painful emotions in me, as shortly after completing my graduate degree almost three years ago two important men in my life suffered strokes. One was my Uncle Dwayne and one was my professor, Dr. Michael Mangis.

I don’t even know what to say about it…

My Uncle Dwayne is an extremely warm and fun man. He has six children and many more grandchildren. He has always been very involved in his children’s lives. He was a teacher and a football coach and a farmer. He has a great sense of humor. He always has a warm smile and a tight hug for me when I see him. I remember summer nights by the fire at our cottage when he requested I roast him a “golden brown” marshmallow for his s’more, knowing it made me feel special to be asked to do this for him.  Since his stroke, he is very restricted in his physical and mental abilities, and my Aunt Peggy patiently and lovingly takes care of him each day.

Michael is an incredibly wise and compassionate man. He is an example to me of someone who has rock solid faith, and lives it on a daily basis. He is also a professor at Wheaton College. Michael loves to challenge students’ beliefs to ensure that they know what lies beneath them. He started a non-profit organization called The Center For Rural Psychology and a counseling organization called Heartland Counseling.  I was immeasurably blessed to have him as a supervisor during my internship at Heartland. During my time there he challenged and affirmed me. To this day when I’m doubting myself professionally I remember his words “You have great clinical instincts; trust them.” He has recovered quite well from his stroke, but I know it has made his life harder.

I’m not sure why this still makes me cry…I guess it just hurts my heart to see them in pain. I really do not understand what God is doing in strokes and Alzheimer’s and dementia. I hate it. I HATE IT.

In a world where it sometimes seems “a good man is hard to find”, Uncle Dwayne and Michael are two of the best. I love them and I resent their pain.

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