I mostly remember Gordie before his ALS diagnosis as a tall man with a very gentle spirit. Whenever I saw him, he shook my hand (in that large bear paw of his), crossed his arms, sort of leaned back a little, and acted like I was the most important person in the world. He has always been a good listener.
Before his life with ALS he loved to play the guitar, and we watched as he went from standing up, to playing on a stool, to strumming while sitting in a chair. It was a sad day indeed when his fingers could no longer work a pick.
But if there’s one thing I can say about Gordie: in the six years that he has had ALS, his physical stature may have become smaller, but the man has become a spiritual giant in my eyes. I know he has had his share of depression and weariness. I’m sure there are days when he wants to give up. But he doesn’t, he keeps going. And I think we can all use that kind of inspiration from time to time: someone who forges ahead, believes, and fights, even in the midst of overwhelming odds.
Here is a video of the speech he gave at a recent fundraising event. He can no longer speak, so he used a computer program to deliver his words to the crowd. Please take a moment and listen to a very wise, very strong man.
“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” David Grayson
4 Replies to “The Unspoken Speech of a Spiritual Giant: Living With ALS”
Thanks for this, Shawn. What courage and what a powerful example of perseverance!
Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this, Shawn.
I was looking back through some of the things my dad wrote while he suffered from ALS. One was a piece of scrap paper that simply said, “For what do I have to complain?” That simple statement showed the mindset he had clear through his death. He was in a situation that was awful and one of the worst physical conditions to happen to a person, but he was blessed and found no reason to argue with his condition. It’s interesting to see Gordie have the same reaction, but it’s not surprising. ALS seems to hit the people who can withstand it the most.
After a few clicks I stumbled on your blog and have been reading some of your blog posts about your dad. Sounds like he was a good man and he sounds like he was a lot like my dad – Gordie.
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