Sunday morning November 14, 2021 12:30 a.m. Portland, Oregon.
I’d finally gone to sleep in my bed at Village Health Care, a rehab center where I’m learning how to walk again after a perhaps minor stroke that affected my legs. (The doctors still are unsure.)
It was another restless night. The phone rang at 12:30. I reached for it, thinking it might be my nephew, Cyle. He’d told me if he got any word about Clio (his dad and my brother) he would let me know.
“Voni?” It was Cyle. “The nurse from the hospital called me now to tell me that Dad passed a few moments ago.” We knew this was coming for Clio’s body had been shutting down, he was unable to speak and didn’t recognize anyone. He had left on this last phase of his journey about 36 hours earlier, and had arrived at his destiny a few moments ago. Finally, Clio was home!
Cyle and I conversed a few minutes. After he hung up, I started thinking.
This journey began about 60 years ago.
Clio and Alice and their little girl were living in Alabama, where Clio was the music minister at a church.
Alice and Celice traveled to Colorado to visit her parents, leaving Clio to take care of things at home. Clio wasn’t feeling too perky, so he was glad he wasn’t traveling.
Two days later, a friend from church who was worried because Clio hadn’t shown up at work, managed to get Clio’s door open and found him very ill. They rushed him to the hospital – it was polio, and he ended up in the Iron Lung. They saved Clio’s life – but they were unable to prevent paralysis.
Ironically, I was visiting my parents in Bellingham, WA and the evening they took Clio to the hospital in Alabama, I was with three of my children and my mom and dad, standing in a line outside of the hospital to get the recently issued anti-polio shots. The previous summer the stats about polio had been horrible. Polio was stalking the land, maiming, and killing, rich and poor.
The next night, my dad was on the plane to Alabama.
I’m not going to share much more of the details of this story right now. It was a nightmare, interspersed with glimpses of sunshine,
After some time, Clio was flown to Bellingham and put into the hospital there, where painful therapy began.
Eventually, the braces and corsets that we became accustomed to, became part of Clio’s daily life.
The doctors gave him ability to live until his 50’s or 60’s, but it would be a limited lifestyle.
They didn’t know Clio. I could write a book about some of the things he did.
Finished his Music Degree at U of Oregon, riding a bicycle to school. I was at the concert of The Messiah where Clio sang one of the leads at a large auditorium in Portland. The fact that he had enough breath in those lungs was a miracle! Head of the music department at Magic Valley Christian College in Idaho. Rode a motorcycle. Went hunting. Sang many different places. Worked in several different prisons with music and Bible teaching, and more.
The years went by. With age, Clio could do less, but he wasn’t one to listen to advice from others if he didn’t want to do it. Even though his body could do less, he refused to stay in a rehab center and insisted on returning to his home where he lived by himself.
My nightmare was of him dying alone.
This last year or so, Clio’s body betrayed him as it gradually could do less and less. The muscles and lungs, and other parts of his body stopped working properly. Family and friends wanting him to be where people could help him. Him insisting on staying in his home, arranging for some help to come in from the state.
About 10 days ago, he called an ambulance and put himself into a hospital because he was having difficulty breathing. Once the tests were completed, the hospital could not send him back to his home, nor would he agree to go any other place than his home. That is when the Lord stepped in and said: “Clio, it is time to come HOME!”
When Clio completed his passage to his HOME, I was thanking God for-Clio did not make this passage alone in his house but was with people who cared about him.
For the first time in sixty years, Clio is not imprisoned in a broken body! He can walk and run and rejoice in his new-found freedom. I am thrilled for him!!!
My brother is starting a new phase in his life. The way he loves music, I have no doubt but that he will be singing joyously in a pain-free body, worshipping our Lord! Who knows???- what else God will have him do?
And, you know what? I am looking forward to getting there also!
Life is interesting - and can be challenging. Voni shares with you her experiences