View from Southwest Airlines...Somewhere over Kansas
I just got back from Missouri. My step-father, Ron McCormick lost his long battle with ALS. He was diagnosed over 10 years ago, which is a testament to the care he received from my mother and various caregivers. Lifespan is typically 3-5 years once diagnosed with ALS. ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
But, he was more than ALS. He was a friend, a companion, a father, a hunter, lover of nature and the outdoors, animal lover, a hard worker.
Stories I think of: When I see a man salting his beer, I will forever think of Ron and smile. (Funny the little things we remember.)
I will remember the time he hauled printing equipment for my company from Chicago to Denver. He, along with my mom, drove all night long to drop off the equipment. He could have rested the following day, but he didn’t. He went out in the field and worked with my husband on a landscape job running the trencher. That was just the kind of person he was. He wasn’t happy laying on the couch. He was happy working, being productive.
We enjoyed many fun times, like the time we were treated to dinner in a cave in Missouri, visiting in Kansas, or hosting him at our home after a week-long hunting trip in Colorado. Or, the time he threatened to put his horses in my suburban backyard if I couldn’t hook him up with a boarding barn! No worries…I found a place to board them real quick!
He was determined not to let this disease get him. He fought for every last day. He would have celebrated his 63rd birthday in August. ALS stole a lot from him. It stole a lot from my mother too.
The Memorial Service was held at his church in Versailles, MO. It was a celebration of life and love. It was perfectly simple. The way he wanted it.
This will be a difficult time for my mother. 10 years is a long time to have your life revolve around the care of another person. 24/7. She hasn’t had a solid night sleep in years. But she will carry on because she is strong. She is determined. And she has a heart of gold. Was it always perfect? Absolutely not. It was difficult most times. Anger and resentment prevailed. ALS doesn’t just rob the one diagnosed of a life, it robs the caregivers life too. Someday I might write more about what this illness has done to our family…but I don’t feel it’s my story to tell.
I find it appropriate that Ron died on July 4th. Independence Day. Independence from the disease that held him captive for over 10 years. Independence for those caring for him. Independence for my mother too.
He is now at peace. He will be missed.
To learn more about ALS go to alsa.org.