Last year my mom celebrated her 78th birthday in the rehab center at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska.

We reserved the family room on the floor she was staying and surprised her with a cake, balloons, party hats and a sign. She was able to eat a little bit of cake, along with pudding and was treated with a small container of Diet Coke that she gingerly sipped through a straw.

I was able to be there for my mom’s birthday, along with my brother and sister and their spouses and of course my dad. A couple who have been a part of my parents lives since their wedding also made a surprise visit, as well as my cousin and her husband.

We wheeled my mom down to the community room in her wheelchair - she wasn’t strong enough then to walk on her own.

Fast forward to a year later, where today on March 19 she celebrates her 79th birthday. Although I am unable to be with her in person and my dad is gone, my mom’s birthday will be physically so much better.

My mom has literally become one of the poster patients for Bryan Memorial Hospital – a true success story of perseverance and true grit. The hospital has a photo of my mom doing physical therapy at Bryan on one of their promotional posters at the hospital, as well as on a brochure.

She certainly deserves the accolades, going from having no movement on her left side, having to have help to get out of bed and honestly, my sister and I wondering how she would be able to go back home to their split-level home.

Despite having my dad die unexpectedly on June 16, my mom got back to physical therapy after the funeral and continued to improve, now only using her cane as a “what if” device.

Her pastor always teases about her cane, given she carries it about mid leg height, wanting to have it in case she would need it.

It is truly a miracle how my mom has recovered from her stroke. A stroke that caught us all off guard and left us frankly scratching our head as she always exercised, had a regiment of vitamins and was not on high blood pressure or cholesterol medicine. After the fact she has been put on high blood pressure medicine and now she has said there were times when she exercised that in checking her blood pressure it was a little high.

Exercise for my mom has always been a significant part of her life. She has always enjoyed going to the local fitness center connected to the local hospital, dragging my dad along who went to appease my mom and for the social aspect. After they would exercise, they would go to coffee where they would sometimes also get biscuits and gravy, coffee or some other breakfast item.

My mom also keeps herself fit by working in the yard, all her flowers, small garden and hanging clothes out on the line whenever possible.

I give my mom a lot of credit for her recovery, that and her strong Christian faith. So, while I will miss her 79th birthday in person, I couldn’t be prouder of my mom and all she has taught me and accomplished all her life, yet, most certainly in this past year.

Linda Wilk

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