My illness, ALS, is frustrating, for sure. But the kindness, help, support and encouragement of so many people has been inspiring.

Nearly every day I get letters, cards and phone calls from friends and others who have learned about my illness. And many have come to the house to visit, reminisce, and talk about issues and projects that interest me.

Visitors have included Gov. Janet Mills, Congressman Jared Golden, and Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso, who I am really enjoying working with. Jared’s dad Joey, a boyhood friend, visited too — and we spent four hours reminiscing about growing up in Winthrop.

Every Tuesday morning Tom Saviello has dropped by for a visit, and lately Dr. Jay Naliboff has joined us. I’ve also done lots of podcasts and news interviews for various people and groups.

Although I’ve lost most of the strength in my hands and fingers, I can still type with two fingers and I use the Dragon software that types my words as I speak them. Writing is still very important to me and I spend most of the morning doing that. I’m especially enjoying writing book reviews for a number of Maine publishers.

I’ve also been active at the Legislature, although physically it’s too difficult for me to get there. But I listen online to hearings and work sessions of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and write about it in my outdoor news blog that you can read on my website, georgesmithmaine.com. For three bills, I prepared written testimony that my friends Ed Pineau and James Cote delivered for me.

Friends John Tyler and Jim Luce spent the better part of two weeks renovating the bathroom and installing an accessible shower for me and didn’t charge us anything for their labor. That was so generous. And my barber Yueon at Duke’s barbershop said she’d come to Mount Vernon to cut my hair if I couldn’t get to Augusta. Actually, Duke’s been calling me every once in a while for a conversation.

Calzolaio in Wilton has been our favorite restaurant for many years. The owners, Tom and Rocell, do a fantastic job. Much of the food is Italian; their eggplant parmesan was our favorite for years until they stopped making it because it took too long and was too expensive.

We were astonished when Rocell visited a few days before Christmas and brought us a large container of eggplant parm. That was awesome! And we had a delightful visit with Rocell.

The ALS Association Northern New England Chapter has been a great help, so I am working with them on their annual fundraising walks in Bangor and Portland. I’m focused on the Aug. 24 Bangor walk — if you would like to contribute or join my walk team, let me know.

I’ve especially appreciated and enjoyed the monthly meetings of our ALS group at Maine General in Augusta. I always learn a lot from the other people who have ALS and their family members. And yes, we also talk about hunting and fishing — one fellow with ALS shot a bear last year from his wheelchair!

I use a Trilogy machine to help me breath when I am sleeping and that has been a big help. My legs are getting much weaker, so I’m in a wheelchair most of the time. But the last Saturday of March I actually got to the Augusta Sportsman’s Show, thanks to my friend Dave Weeks, who took me, and I even worked for an hour in the booth of the Maine Sportsman. It was great to visit with so many old friends at the show.

Something seems to go wrong nearly every day, from a swollen foot to a nose infection to a dead battery in my vehicle. But honestly, given my ailment, none of these problems is significant.

Allan Harville from Vienna, who works on cars and other machinery, was here three times to do that for us, and after Linda insisted on paying, he charged us just $15. It’s wonderful to live in such a caring community.

Our kids and grandkids continue to focus lots of attention on us, and my wife Linda has been amazing. She has to do almost everything for me now. Thanks to her great cooking, I have regained 18 pounds, after losing nearly 50 pounds. Fortunately, she has some good friends who talk with her nearly every day and join her for long walks. Some of those friends are here often to help with everything from shoveling to getting me out of the car.

And I have an amazing medical team, which is a great help. I am so grateful for all of this.

 

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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