The recent loss of strength in my legs has so far been the most difficult adjustment I have had to make mentally since the onslaught of ALS three years ago.
My days are now spent in an electric wheelchair. I can’t get out of bed in the morning, walk out on our dock in the evening, mow the grass, or climb in and out of my truck. Worse of all is to watch Ruth as she works on our 3-acre property in rural Florida and not be able to shoulder my share of the work.
My legs have taken me to many interesting places.
On these legs I have trekked to remote mountain villages in West Papua (formerly West New Guinea).
With them I ran 3 mile routes every week day and 10-mile routes on the weekend for over ten years. My resolution was to run an eleven mile route on each of my birthdays until I reached 100 years of age!
When heel spurs and two knee scopes stopped my running, I switched to bicycling and eventually rode daily a 24-mile round trip route from my home to the Gulf of Mexico.
I walked with Ruth the streets of Suhl in Germany for two weeks, retrieving information about my Wackes family origins. We also climbed from Grindelwald in Switzerland up to the cog train station at the foot of the Jungfrau in an early September snow fall.
Ruth and I have many wonderful memories from summer vacations spent climbing numerous mountain trails in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Our favorite was the Mount of the Holy Cross just outside of Vail, Colorado. We paused and watched (from a safe distance!) grizzlies chase ground squirrels in Glacier National Park.
On one occasion in the Grand Teton National Park we came to a trail’s dead end at a small lake at the foot of the Continental Divide. The steep incline up covered with a snow and ice pack. So I went up first, digging foot holes in the snow and ice so Ruth could follow after me. When we got to the top and looked down, the small lake was about the size of a penny. We then decided that instead of walking along the Continental Divide to a distant foot trail in order to descend, we would take our ponchos out of our backpacks and slide back down the snow and ice pack. It was like a gigantic water slide!
When we reached the trail head we met a park ranger and told him what we had just done. He replied that we had chosen the only snow and ice pack in the entire national park where we would not have created an avalanche of snow and ice!
So, now, back to the here and now, Ruth uses a Hoyer Lift to get me out of bed every morning and to deposit me back there every night like a sack of potatoes!
But, hey, everyone reading this will have their own days of ailments and frustrations. It’s not a matter of if, but when?
But a better day is coming! The Apostle Paul gives these encouraging words:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)