Recently, my great uncle had a stroke. For those of you who don’t know what a stroke is, I will explain. A stroke is when a nerve or pathway in your brain gets clotted. This then prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the part of the brain that has the clot, rendering both that part of the brain, as well as whatever it controls, completely useless and almost dead. This is why when you see people who have had strokes, sometimes parts of their face may be drooping, or they walk funny, or something along those lines. If you are able to catch a stroke early, the person who has had the stroke will most likely survive. If the stroke is not caught, it can kill you pretty fast or cause permanent damage to the brain. My great uncle was not found for five hours, while he laid motionless on the bathroom floor. For a stroke, five hours is an extremely long time and can easily lead to death. When he was found, he was struggling to hold on to the tiny bit of life that he had left, and had he not persisted and had just let go, he would most likely already be dead. Currently, he is hardly able to move, and can’t talk at all. A few days ago, he went home on Hospice and most likely won’t live more than a few weeks.
Noel Newman means a lot to me. He is a family man. A man who is truly successful. When I say successful, many of you guys are probably thinking that he is financially successful and has a lot of personal belongings and other such things. That is not at all what comes to mind when I think of Noel Newman. His type of success is unique, special. A type of success that only few people truly understand. His type of of success actually means something. To himself, to his friends, and most of all to his family, he is a very special man that is always glowing with joy. While he is pretty old, he was still living an active lifestyle when he had a stroke. He had a job, he could drive, and he was living a happy life with his wife Nancy. I know Noel and Nancy extremely well and I really love them. They don't live very close to us, but their relationship is very special to me. They are not just my family, they are my friends. They are the kind of people that you almost have to get along with, but a stroke struck Noel as quickly as everyone's faces light up when he steps in a room. A stroke struck Noel like lightning.
On my dad’s side of the family, I have tons of first, second, and third cousins. Aunts, uncles, relatives that I don’t even know, but I never had the same type of relationship with any of them that I had with Noel and Nancy. I have had many fun times with both of them. Whether those times were at our huge family seder, or at a family members Bar/Bat Mitzvah, wherever they are, they bring joy and happiness. I have been close with Noel and Nancy since I was three years old. We were at my second cousin’s Bar Mitzvah and were having a lot of fun. At the party they had one of those people who look at you and then turn you into a cartoon. I went over to the booth with Nancy and we sat down in the chairs that were there. We sat still, just chatting with the artist and with each other for about two or three minutes while the artist sketched our faces onto a piece of paper. When he finished, he handed us the paper and when we looked at it, both Nancy and I laughed. On the paper, the artist tried to add a nice little note. The note was pretty funny because Nancy is about 65 years older than me, give or take a few years. The note said, “I love you Mom,” in huge blue letters. From that point on, I called Nancy “Mom” and with a mom, there is always a dad so Noel became “Dad.” That meant a lot to both of them and I still call them that to this day. While this may not seem like such a big deal to you guys, it means a lot to both Noel and Nancy, as well as me.
Noel and Nancy both have this special quality that makes them unbelievably likable. They are like magnets. All who are near just want to go over and give them a huge hug, and most actually do give them a huge hug. They always have this glowing aura around them that just emanates joy and love to everyone. If the family was to lose either one of them, we would be destroyed. They are always the ones who are joking around at the seders, or doing a little jig at family events, and while they are old and not in the best of health, no one is quite ready to let either one of them go. Because of this, the stroke that struck Noel took a huge bite out of our family. They were just that important to everyone, and now that they are fading, I don’t think that anyone really knows how to take the horrid events that are most likely going to unfold within the next few months. When he had a stroke and did not even die people are struggling with it a lot, and I can’t even imagine what it will be like when they pass away.
If you only remember one thing from this post, I would like it to be this: cherish what you have while you have it, because you never know, it can be taken from you in the blink of an eye.