Saturday, May 4, 2013

Surrender? Don't Think So

When we left St. Catherine’s to come home in June of 2006 it felt like surrender, it felt like we were leaving too soon with too much still to learn and to do.

We had been at St. Catherine’s, a sub acute care and rehab center, for a total of four months and we had spent a turbulent six weeks at Pate rehab in Dallas.   All in all Marty had not seen the inside of our house for six months.  

As I sat in the social worker’s office listening and thinking about our options, trying to come to grips with our new reality, I finally just gave in to what I saw as inevitable and I said, “It’s time to go home.”

I never would have thought it but going home felt like surrender, leaving rehab without accomplishing some or really any of our recovery goals felt like total failure.  We had spent months trying to find answers and see some real improvement in Marty’s physical and cognitive abilities.  I felt like we had made very little progress and as I said those words, “let’s go home”, it felt like acquiescence to the strokes, it felt like I was quitting on Marty.

Before the strokes Marty was a musician, a teacher, a therapist, a mentor to young women, a house painter, a detailed but painfully slow wall paperer and the financial manager for our house.  She presented seminal papers at conventions and helped revitalize a youth program at our church, she helped our oldest put together a remote powered, Paper Mache shark and guided our youngest through the travails of adolescence.  

Before the strokes Marty managed to get a couple of degrees, one a doctorate, while raising two very successful children and supporting a husband in a job that was somewhat nomadic.  She had done big stuff and seen big stuff, she was accomplished.

The strokes and the recovery from the assault of the strokes made everything she had done seem pretty small.   As we walked out of St. Catherine’s for the last time we were faced with giving up on rehab, we were being forced to take unacceptable losses, we were going home to learn to live and accept.

Over the years my accomplished wife has taught me a lot of stuff, over our years together she has helped me grow into something better.  How she has lived her new life, what she has taught me by her gracious acceptance of that new life, has been nothing short of inspiring and maybe her biggest achievement.  Marty has taught me that what I saw as surrender that June was really just the beginnings of acceptance without surrender.

Marty, my wounded wife, taught me.  She quietly led us both to acceptance, to accept the disability, to accept the new life, to accept the massive changes brought on by the strokes, to accept it all, but to never surrender to any of it. 

She has continued to fight for every little piece of improvement, every tiny memory, every number, every address, every name.  She has very simply and quietly fought for improvement.  Marty has embraced the rehab adage, “I’m better today than I was yesterday, I will be better tomorrow than I am today.” 
She has lived the credo, acceptance without surrender.

Marty has done all of this quietly, without complaining and with all of the dignity one can have when your body and parts of your mind are so broken by a disease.  She has accepted with dignity and grace a body that does not necessarily lend itself to either.  In her living she has taught everyone who knows her about grace and acceptance.

Marty was always stubborn, dogmatic, determined in everything she faced, in everything she wanted to do.  She wasn’t ever really compliant or graceful in her life.  The strokes forced us both to find a way to accept a new life.  

She was not forced to live her life without complaint, she just does.  She was not forced to continue to seek improvement, she just does.  She was not forced to live with grace and dignity, she was not forced to fight surrender she just does every day.   

She embodies acceptance without surrender.

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