Bob Parker – An Abridged Story
Las Vegas to Pasadena. September 2009. Associate Professor of Organizational Leadership. University of La Verne, CA. Original research approved. First semester. I taught fifty-three online doctoral students. Jesse Silva registered for research course. He submitted a research paper, along with others. Final class 20th of December.
December 22nd. I left our condo on the way to Jones coffee. Stroke occurred when I arrived in the parking lot. The ambulance, siren on, came five minutes later. Paramedic’s voice came through as if it were from somewhere else. I spoke but half rational and half gobbledegook. I passed out while driving to Huntington Hospital.
I woke in the Emergency Room. What happened to me? Jo (Mazzoli), my wife, Jen, my daughter, and Sandy, my son-in-law, were waiting. Right arm useless, right leg slightly better, and voice semi-silent. Distinct images were blurry. Second stroke was worse. I nearly didn’t wake up. I couldn’t swallow, walk, talk, or write. There I sat in ICU.
Nurse shuffled me to the wheelchair. Two nurses struggled to stand me up. I shuffled three steps along the wall. Determined to walk more. Nurse wheeled me to the table. Speech therapist assisted me to pronounce “I.” A week later: “I could.” Third session: “I could not.” I re-learned to speak. Over eleven years.
Steve Parker came twice to see me. Lew Parker came once. Jo, Jen and Sandy were always there. Sandy sat through the night, then went on a grip job during the day.
Mark Brunner wheeled me outside. Face felt the warming sun. Mark talked quietly; I listened silently. Mark wheeled me back.
Released after forty-eight days. I walked on a cane to the car. Jo closed the door for me. Then home. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy came next. Six months for therapy.
We moved back to Las Vegas. I watched television inside and read outside. I put the book down, Giants hat off, stretched neck up to watch the blossoming trees. Is this all?
Jo suggested that I begin the book. To write again? Determination won. I sat in front of the laptop and typed with left hand. Three weeks to do page one. I crumpled it up. It took me two weeks to rework the first page. I finished finally and called the book I Am On My Way to Healing:Two Strokes and A Recovery. Will power and tenacity.
I created Headless Horseman for aspiring writers in Cafe Leone. Two became friends. They offered twelve submissions to Passing Through. I submitted twelve poems. No money, just good friendship. Yet unpublished.
Jesse Silva pressed on with his dissertation for four years. He asked Dr. Machi to Chair his Committee. Unexpectedly, he got my number and texted me in Las Vegas. He talked with me about the dissertation journey. He wanted to know if I would be the second faculty member. “Yes” I carefully articulated. He identified leadership as the target, chronicled in the seven book Harry Potter series. I suggested leader-ship and follower-ship. He thought that proposition over, said “yes,” and charged off to read more theory, particularly hermeneutic phenomenology.
I read the first draft of two chapters. “Push harder” I said. I read it nine times. He said, in published version, “your knowledge and guidance has been nothing short of inspiring.” Also he said “leaders and followers together create the leadership relation.”
He helped me develop my website: robertprescottparker.com. Poems & Stories 2016; A Puzzle of His Life: A Virtual Memory; and Random Musings: A Summing Up Thus Far.
Chris Ewing, hemorrhagic stroke survivor, developer of Life After Stroke, helped me read a poem to stroke survivors. Now I’ve read many poems to stroke survivors.
I joined Virtual Writers Club. Fourteen writers. I am the only person that had strokes. I began with two poems and moved to Two Weeks In England. I read the story slowly, one word by one word. Succinctly, clearly. Continuing as we speak.
Mind searched words internally. Pre-voice run-through of words. Post-voice affirmation by clear talking. Before, one purpose. After, three separate purposes. Buckle up people. I flourished despite the strokes. Had I begun to speak and write? Absolutely. I was a writer and speaker. I look forward to change as a human being.
Transient Ischemic Attacks? Stroke(s)? Doesn’t matter. We’re all stroke survivors, and we can make a plan, stick to it, and act it out. Meditation, writing, speaking, and exercise is my plan.
It starts in meditation. Hands folding upwards.
Breath in . . breath out. Now inhale fully.
Exhale approaching death. Return to living.
Feet planted on earth. Gut rising to heart.
Spirit lifting sky. Hearts love infinite spaces.
It captures everything.
What is your plan?