Eileen: Determination Creates Inspiration
Just a few years after earning her BA in political science, Eileen was only 54 years old when she suffered a severe stroke. That was 30 years ago last November.
Unable to speak at first, she relearned our names by studying pieces of paper we had posted in her hospital room. Every word she speaks today is new. To say that Eileen’s stroke was devastating for her and the family, is truly understated, which makes it miraculous that the youthful beauty who was knocked down in the prime of her life, greets me every morning with a huge smile and a great attitude and who remains, at 84, optimistic about her future.
But the journey wasn’t always easy. Life after stroke took many unexpected turns, and she survived major operations and disappointments, endured losses and broken hearts, and discovered opportunities to shine in spite of the limitations of her newly fashioned mind and body.
One of the original members of the Wethersfield Stroke Club, Eileen challenged herself to relearn everyday tasks, like making her double bed by rolling from corner to corner until complete, getting up the courage to ride a horse in a therapeutic riding program, and rethinking how to productively and happily fill her days in spite of a hand that no longer works, speech that is limited, and legs that barely support her. Through it all, with the support of her family, friends, and her fellow stroke survivors, Eileen remains beautiful and youthful and hopeful, and an inspiration to those lucky enough to spend time with her. Like me, her proud daughter, and cheerleader.
Barbara, April 2010