We have “Big Garbage Day” once a year in our town. Last Spring it provided the perfect opportunity to clean out our old, unfinished basement. After hauling several loads of unwanted junk up and out to the curb, I was finishing up by sweeping the basement floor. It was rather dark and dingy down there…actually, it was downright creepy! Standing at the foot of the stairs, alone with my vivid imagination, I thought, “What if I was trapped down here? Forever.”
Forever to exist in a damp, musty, crumbling basement…knowing that the sun was shining outside. That its golden light was filtering through the trees onto a lovely flower garden, alive with birds–hopping and teetering from feeder to feeder. Never to lean back on an elbow in the lush green grass again, to close my eyes and drink in the sweet vanilla fragrance of the Korean Spice blossoms: lacy, blush-pink, and lovely. I would know only darkness. Trapped. Completely alone.
What if I really was cast into this deep, dark basement? Forever.
That’s exactly what happened to a dear friend of mine. Emlyn was a senior citizen who took a big risk…he left a small business that he had operated for many years to enter college and earn his Bachelors Degree. During that time, something was ignited within him. He absolutely loved learning and so, at age 65, he set out to earn his Masters Degree.
Just as he was hitting his stride in this adventure-of-a-lifetime, he was blind-sided by a massive stroke. Suddenly bound and helpless, he was thrown down the basement stairs, bludgeoned by each and every step, landing in a heap on the floor. Crumpled, captive and alone. What followed were many dark days: a long hospitalization, culminating in a somber visit from his physician. “I’m sorry…but due to the extent of your paralysis, your lack of progress over the course of an intensive therapy program and your complete inability to speak–you require an extremely high level of care which is only available in a nursing home. “Boom” went the basement door!
While Emlyn lay in that hospital bed, weak and unable to lift himself out…somehow he managed to get a toe in the door before it had a chance to latch shut. He was determined, ”I will not live out my days in this basement…I do not face only one choice…the nursing home. Although I cannot bear my weight, some day I will walk in the sun…and dance in the rain. Somehow, this mouth of stone will laugh and sing and take an important message to the world. I WILL NOT FADE AWAY IN A BASEMENT! Even if, my lips remain silent, and my mind, crippled by this terrible assault.” Continue reading