Monday, January 31, 2005



Sometimes it just takes me read a book. Sitting on my desk has been a small, 3/8 inch thick, book with an orange spine on which is written
I started this book and then something more exciting or pressing came along, and there it sat, flirting with me. Something about that spine caused me to pick it up Saturday, and inside the cover I found this inscription:
For Mike on his birthday. 1-15-03, Bill & Connie.
On the next page were these words
The editor-in-chief of French Elle, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke that resulted in locked-in syndrome when he was 43 years old. He died just two days after the French publication of his book.
I like to think that people and books, ideas or things, present themselves at appropriate times. I started to read and discovered this young man of 43, after his stroke, could only move his left eye and head (and his head only 90 degrees). He wrote this book using a special alphabet based on the frequency of a particular letter's usage in the french language. A friend would read each letter aloud and he would blink his eye when the correct letter was read, thus building a word, then a sentence, a paragraph, and finally this small book.
"Locked-in" he was especially conscious of his memories; the tastes of strawberries, the sour smell of a New York bar, the odor of poverty of a Rangoon market, the smell of french fries at the end of the pier. And then would come flooding back all the memories of events associated with that smell. For me the smell of Emeraude perfume, immediately takes me back to a city south of San Francisco in 1963, while on choir tour with the Willamette Univ. Choir. "She" wore it! She was a painter of landscapes or seascapes, Joan T., who gave me my first original piece of art. Unfortunately, she wanted it back, after our romance was over.

Bauby has time to think about his short life. He isn't bitter, he is positive, but misses being able to comfort his two children by hugging them to him and kissing their forheads. He misses sliding up next to his wife in bed and feeling her warmth. As I sat there in my overstuffed chair in front of the fireplace, I noticed there were two cup hooks and a yellow stick pin in the wood. Cup hooks for the Christmas stockings hand made by Beverly's mom sister Carol for each member of the family (I received mine that first Christmas after we married) and a stick pin for the smaller stocking that is Amber the dog's. It's wonderful to be alive; to notice the plum trees are already adorned in pink bloom, to notice that the daffodils are pushing green up through the ground. Bauby was thrilled to be alive, and had just enough time to write this book about life, one eye blink at a time.

Mover Mike

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