Matt and I have been vacationing in MN most of our lives. We take it for granted, but I realize its something special that we both grew up spending time up north with our parents and grandparents. We have years and years of memories between the two of us...so many wonderful memories. We honeymooned at the small resort my grandparents once owned and we've joined Matt's parents up north at their favorite resort many times. I guess you could say MN is in our blood...one of our favorite vacation spots for sure.Of course, since Matt's stroke a MN vacation presents many more challenges. The cabins are not accessible at all, the boat is downright scary to get on and off, and the ramp going up to the cabin is nearly vertical. But Matt endured all the challenges with a smile on his face and glimmer of joy in his eye, even when he tumbled in the bathroom he laughed and hollered out to us 'I'm OK!'.
I smiled as I snuck a picture of Matt and his dad stringing fishing line together on the porch. A TRUE challenge!! Using only his uncoordinated left hand and with only his one eye! I asked if he needed help, but he declined, wanting to do it himself. I admire that about him.
Yesterday we met a man who also suffered a stroke, nearly 5 years ago. You wouldn't know it to look at him, or to talk to him. Yet he spotted us at a car show and made an effort to approach us and ask if Matt had had a stroke. He was eager to tell us about his recovery and his new faith which has carried him far, indeed we were impressed with his recovery. But it didn't take long for me to get the impression that he thought he needed to encourage us. To give Matt advice how to keep pressing on and working hard to get better every day. We exchanged contact information and this morning he text that the hoped God would use him in a big way for Matt's recovery process.
Of course he doesn't know us. He doesn't know how far Matt has come...or the lengths that he went through to get better...3 months in rehab, 3 months away at QLI, months and months of therapy...speech, physical, occupational, hippo therapy with the horses, water therapy...selling his beloved Trans Am to pay for 3 months of traditional Chinese treatment in CHINA! The list goes on and on. Each day Matt gets up and goes about his day with purpose. He exercises to maintain his fitness and health. He prepares his own simple meals. He tends to the dog and cuddles with the cats. He emails and reads and talks to friends and family. He greets me each day with a smile and open arms (and lap!). We are making big plans for our future and have hope and joy and gratitude and love in our hearts. Truly, our cup runneth over.
I realize that from the outside, strangers may see us and think how bad we have it...or feel pity for us...or think that we need encouragement. I appreciate that this man wanted to connect with us, to commiserate in our shared experiences...but I certainly don't want anyone feeling as though Matt needs encouragement to work harder or do more. Everyday I marvel at what Matt is capable of...and what he goes through each day to stay positive and have joy in his heart. We have a good life...an amazingly close and strong relationship...blessings more than we can count.We've accepted that there will always be struggles for us, physically....but that doesn't mean we don't have hope. We accept the wheelchair as a necessary tool, but that doesn't mean Matt isn't willing to walk with me when necessary. And we certainly don't let that wheelchair get in our way of going where we want to go! We've traveled all over the country in that thing and have plans for more in the very near future!
I apologize for the public service announcement...or if I sound defensive or braggy. But truly, Matt works hard everyday at everything he does...and what a blessing that he does it all with a smile and that glimmer of joy in his eye.