Almost thirty years ago, my mom began experiencing problems. It began, unobtrusively enough, with a drop foot. The doctor ordered a brace for her foot as well as physical therapy. It didn’t help and she continued to stumble as she would trip on her foot. Finally, the doctor told her that she should go to a neurologist.
Since I had worked at a local hospital as an orderly, I knew several very fine doctors in different fields and asked a neurosurgeon if he would agree to see my mother. He was a very popular doctor and the wait time for appointments/new patients at his practice was extremely long. He agreed to see my mom immediately.
Upon meeting her, he evaluated her and ordered a battery of tests including an EMG. After the results of the tests, he called us in and said that he would rather not give a diagnosis because she needed to be further evaluated and he suggested she go to Mayo.
My dad called Mayo and was told that there would be a six month wait for an appointment. They were devastated. So, I called Bishop Grutka. He was retired but still knew many people including the CEO at Mayo. Mayo called us immediately after the bishop’s call to them and asked my parents if they could plan a trip two days later. Of course, they went. As it would happen, it coincided with Labor Day weekend.
I was at the rectory when I received a call from my mom that weekend. They were still at Mayo and had just been told the diagnosis. She wept as she told me, “I’m one of Jerry’s kids.” She had been diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Our world shattered. Over the next few years, we watched her rapidly deteriorate until she passed away on May 12, 1994, twenty-six years ago today.
It seems like yesterday and it seems like a hundred years ago all at the same time. I miss her incredibly but count on the promise of resurrection and hope for the day when we can be reunited. I miss you, mom. Rest in peace.