How dare you, Patrick! And just when my day was going so well.
I’ve slept soundly, enjoyed some coffee and am focused on the job at hand, with an eye toward watching a little football later. Now you come along and make me all emotional, even tearful, with your inspirational story of triumph over fear and adversity. Seriously, it’s only 6:17 a.m. How can you be so insensitive?
Patrick is a 70-year-old resident at Marquis Piedmont, an Oregon assisted living facility. An experienced cyclist, he spent decades doing crazy-long rides that would frighten any casual biker. Then he was struck by a car — it hit him and drove off — and he entered long-term care a literally broken man. His battle back culminated with a dream to complete the biking leg of an Olympic triathlon. That’s why I’m here so early on a Sunday — to document his attempt on video.
To be clear, with the injuries he suffered, Patrick did not expect to ride again. Ever. He could barely get from his room to the dining room, even with a walker. His bike was for sale. He’d given up. But then something happened. Small circles in the facility parking lot became longer rides. A believing group of friends, family and staff buoyed his courage. Now here he is, cane tossed aside and helmet on, ready to ride again.
Other residents are here in support, wearing custom-designed shirts that say “Fallen Angels.” And, yes, Patrick movingly tells us exactly what that means. “We’re all fallen angels in our own way,” he says. “We broke our wings and we’re trying to patch them up so we can learn how to fly again.”
He finished the race, all 24 miles. He conquered what had been a paralyzing fear, inspiring everyone in attendance. He did it, and now the morning suddenly seems a little misty and indistinct. I seem to be having difficulty focusing the camera. How dare you, Patrick!
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.