As my illness, ALS, continues to progress, I remain very thankful for the help of family, friends, and my medical team.

I’ve been able to remain active on issues that concern me, thanks to Gov. Janet Mills, Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso, friends, legislators, environmental groups, and others. I’m also very pleased that I can still write my columns. I’m especially enjoying writing book reviews. You can access most of my writing at georgesmithmaine.com.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening talk I did sponsored by this newspaper. And it was very special to receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Maine at Augusta at their graduation ceremony. I’ve actually been blessed with a number of awards, including one called You Knocked Our Socks Off! I was especially pleased when my friend Stan Keach dedicated his new CD to me — I really love Stan’s music.

The ALS Association Northern New England Chapter is a great help to all of us with ALS. I am currently working with them on their annual fundraising walk in Bangor, scheduled for Aug. 24. If you would like to contribute or join my walk team, go to alsa.org.

I’ve also enjoyed many visits by friends, some of whom bring lunch. And they also bring everything from books for me to read to beer they have made. Yup, they know my favorite things.

Our three kids planned a weekend getaway for all of us at the Samoset Resort in Rockport in May. It was awesome to spend time with our three kids and four grandkids, and resort manager Connie Russell was a big help. My brother Gordon, his wife Janet, and my sister Edie joined us for a spectacular dinner at the resort’s Italian restaurant. As our excellent server set down a bottle of red wine in front of Gordon and me, we told her we had both visited that winery in Italy. That surprised her!

The ALS Charitable Family Foundation in Massachusetts offers a lot of help to ALS patients, including paying up to $2,000 for a vacation. The foundation paid for our Samoset getaway, which was very generous.

Father’s Day weekend was also very special. On Saturday, our son Josh, his wife Kelly, and our two granddaughters, Esme, age 2, and Ada age 5, drove up from Massachusetts to celebrate with us. We took the girls to the wildlife park in Gray, a spectacular place with dozens of wild animals, from moose, deer, and bears, to foxes, raccoons, owls and turtles. Ada insisted on seeing every single animal so we were there for two-and-a-half hours. Then we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Cole Farms in Gray.

The next day we traveled to Union for a delicious brunch at Sterlingtown Public House with our daughter Rebekah, her husband Patrick, our two grandsons, Addi, age 15, and Vishal, age 12, along with Pat’s dad, Tom. And that night we had a great phone conversation with our daughter Hilary who lives in Washington, D.C.

About a month ago we purchased a van from Mobility Works in Gray. They specialize in vehicles that are accessible for people in wheelchairs, so now, I can travel in my power chair (Linda won’t let me call it my electric chair). The folks at Mobility Works were very helpful.

I am also blessed with a great medical team, including therapists from Maine General, Anne Marie Jenkins, Cheri Worth, and Jean O’Brien. And my wife Linda, who has to do so much for me, continues to be amazing.

Finally, I want to tell you about Christopher Lockwood’s book, “Why The Cane? Chris,  who lives in Hallowell, did a great job as executive director of the Maine Municipal Association for 36 years. But I had no idea the great difficulty Chris had in recovering from a terrible accident.

Chris was standing behind his van when a speeding car hit him, severing his left leg. His recovery took years of hospital stays, operations and pain. Given my own illness, I recognize a lot of what Chris went through. Eventually he realized that he was going to have to use a cane for the rest of his life. And that was a very tough decision for him.

Chris wrote the book hoping to help others who are struggling with health challenges. And I want to thank him for this very thoughtful and helpful book that will benefit many people.

 

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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