Seeing the light.

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It’s funny how losing focus makes some things easier to see.

For two years an eye specialist has been monitoring my vision to see if a small problem was growing worse. Thankfully, it’s not, but for my final visit, the doctor still needed to dilate and look inside to evaluate all those amazing parts that turn light into images. If you’ve had this done, you know that walking out into the bright sunshine is a little difficult. You drive home with the visor down. You look for shady streets to walk the dog.

This morning with my depth of field very small, it made things in the center stand out. Fuzzy around the edges, the middle was beautiful. It made me think about perspective. It made me think about our friend Paul Stone.

Paul is a man of many talents: creator of the bowling ball cannon and the power tool olympics; he’s an artist who can turn antlers and an old tea kettle into a chandelier. He is a jokester of grand proportions. One time he injured his hand and didn’t feel he could afford to see a family physician. So he walked into the veterinarian clinic wearing a leash and a dog collar and asked Doc Howard to treat him. I could go on and on, but I think Paul’s saved his greatest skill for last. He’s teaching us to accept the inevitable with a kind of good cheer that seems impossible.

A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with ALS. The condition quickly took his muscle strength, his mobility and is now battling him for his breath. He’s currently in a Kansas rehab center supported by caring family and friends, but far from his beloved Colorado home.Paul stone 1

This is Paul giving his adapted “thumbs up” signal–using the fingers of one hand to hold the thumb on the other.

His foot is in a walking cast following a break at a previous facility. His food is pureed to prevent choking. He’s completely dependent on others for almost everything he needs. I know there are days when he must wish it was all over. His only comment about what he’s going through? “What’re you gonna do?” Then he smiles a beatific smile. He can still wink. He can still chuckle. He can still teach us that coping, humor and smiling is a pretty good way to end a good life.

It’s an amazing thing he’s doing, trying to make us feel good in the midst of our grief over him. He’d probably shake his head at the idea he’s serving as a great example of courage, but he is for me. My vision may be a little fuzzy around the edges today, but I’m focusing on a man who’s made so many people laugh over and over again, our ears will be ringing for years.

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(Before visiting Paul I took time to visit the Grinter Farm in Lawrence–40 acres of sunflowers that will lift your spirits rain or shine. The photo of Paul was taken by friends who went to see him this week and left with a laugh.)

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