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Tools To Light My Way



Elaine was a beautiful woman inside and out. She loved people, was generous to a fault and always, always loved a good laugh. She glued coins to the floor of her entry just to watch the unsuspecting visitors' reaction when they'd stoop to pick them up. On her dining room table, she kept what looked like a spilled cup of coffee (but was truly only a plastic joke cup) to once again get a rise out of folks. It didn't take knowing Elaine long to learn always expect the unexpected anytime you had the occasion to spend time with her! She was in her early 60's when we met. Her life hadn't been easy. She had sustained a work-related accident, which left her with some brain damage, and later suffered a CVA, which she successfully recovered from. The stroke, however, left her with a limited ability to read. Meeting her, you'd never know any of this, however for she appeared to be the picture of health. Elaine was dependent on her husband for many things. She had turned in her driver's license after the stroke. He drove her everywhere she needed to go, doled out her medicines, brought her to frequent medical visits, paid the bills, took care of the housework, and he did all the yard work. Then, one day, Elaine's husband died suddenly and unexpectedly and I'll never forget the message she left me on the phone, "Oh honey, if I ever needed you before, I need you now. Please don't let me down." Life changed for her in an instant, but, most importantly, she didn't let herself down. She was determined to regain her independence. It took weeks of teaching, but she eventually learned to manage her medications. We got her a Driver's Education book and read her the chapters over and over until she learned the rules of the road. The day she passed her driving test she jumped up and down. We both cried. Elaine was a survivor; she made the tough choice to work really hard and she got her life back. I think Elaine's story, and the help we were able to give her, is what Ms. Whittemore had in mind when she established TCNA. A few years ago, one of the friends of TCNA, Theo Page, interviewed Elaine for a story. Elaine described her journey this way. "It was like being in a strange room in the dark, and the nurses handed me a flashlight. They couldn't do it for me, but they gave me the tools to light my way." ~J.R.

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