June 19this the day that the amazing baseball legend, Lou Gehrig was born. Lou Gehrig is remembered for his amazing skills in baseball and his amazing spirit in fighting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or as it would later be called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness and attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. Over time, ALS leads to total paralysis, leaving people unable to move, speak, swallow and, ultimately, breath. In many cases, the mind remains unaffected. ALS is the most common motor neuron disorder among adults. Its cause is unknown and, as yet, there is no known cure. (ALS Association)
I’d like to share for a moment about the indomitable human spirit.
Lou Gehrig said: “I might have had a tough break, but I have an awful
lot to live for.”
This is near and dear to my heart. You see, my dearest friend, has ALS. Before she contracted this dreadful disease she was the most vibrant, positive, ball of fire I have ever known. She could handle anything and often did. She cut my wedding cake with the quickness and style of a professional baker. She was the first person to help anyone in need; she was the one who juggled two kids of her own and helped me with mine. She mowed her grass on a big tractor as if she were simply just pushing a lawn mower; in our younger days she might’ve been a bit of a speed demon but handled her car with the finesse of Andretti. Her sense of humor and constant laughter – her sheer joy in heartfelt laughter, was contagious. A mischievous spirit and always a twinkle in her eye, just over 5 feet tall but what a tornado!
She celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday surrounded by her family and friends. She celebrated with joy! She cannot move, she cannot verbalize her thoughts, but through the help of technology, she speaks and those twinkling eyes still laugh. With all that she cannot do she still embraces life and lives it as fully as she can. She carefully blinked out a message to me on her computer. It was similar to what Lou Gehrig had to say. Only this time, it was from her heart straight to my own. She said, “I have a lot to live for.
I have a lot of love to give.” With that, I rested my head on her arm and barely was able to whisper the words, “I love you”. I couldn’t speak. Even now, as she has for over 40 years, my dear friend is still teaching me. She doesn’t look the same, she doesn’t keep multiple balls in the air, but her spirit cannot be dampened. She is alive and happily so. I’m so happy she is alive too.