Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online


November 6 , 2001

When I woke up this morning at 5:15 Santa Fe time, the clock next to my bed said 4:15. That’s because I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, where there is a one-hour time difference. But my body was still running on Santa Fe time. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, and finally stopped trying. Since Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps, I decided to go on and get up, go for my morning walk and then maybe hit the crap tables. The walk was a good idea. The crap tables? I never tell!

A few weeks ago in this space I wrote about my dear friend Tom Smith, with whom I grew up in Santa Fe, succumbing to cancer. He passed away in Montana, and after having a memorial for him there, his wife planned another one in Santa Fe last Saturday. She asked me to say a few words about the friendship Tom and I had shared, and I said I would.

A few weeks before the memorial was arranged, my wife and I had made plans to accompany our daughter and her best friend to Las Vegas, where they are moving, and help them find living accommodations there. Our flight was scheduled for the same Saturday that the memorial was to be held. So while my wife and daughter caught their early-morning plane as planned, I changed my reservations to an afternoon flight and told Linda I would join them at the hotel that evening.

About 11 on Saturday morning, I started feeling a strange sensation at the right corner of my lips. I thought maybe I was allergic to the wine I had consumed the previous evening, even though I had never been allergic to wine before. Then around noon I started feeling something wrong with my right eye. I couldn’t close it. I wondered if maybe I had suffered a minor stroke. My mother and an uncle both had one at just about the same age I am now. But other than these odd symptoms, I felt OK.

The memorial was set for 2 p.m., and I felt I should keep my commitment to speak despite my strange condition. My mother was going with me, and I picked her up at 1:30. I decided not to mention my strange condition, and see if my mother noticed something wrong. But as we drove to the Inn at Loretto for the memorial, she didn’t say anything. I tried to relax a bit.

We got to the Inn and visited with the friends and family members assembled there. As the minutes passed, the odd feeling in my lips increased, and my eye began to burn because it was not blinking. I grew worried that I might get another small stroke while speaking at the podium. If I can just get through my moment of reckoning, I said to myself, I can leave right afterward if necessary.

The crowd was summoned to enter the main room for the ceremony. After we were seated, a priest, who was a longtime family friend, began the program. In a few minutes, my turn would come. The priest spoke my name, and called me to the front of the room. The podium was on a slightly elevated platform. As I stepped onto it, my legs felt like they weighed a ton. It seemed to take forever to get behind the podium, and when I finally did, I took my customary moment to look at the audience and bond with it. But this time the feeling of connectedness did not come.

My talk didn't require any difficult memory work, because it was all about the wonderful times Tom and I and our other friends had enjoyed as kids. As I began to speak, I felt that I was not articulating very well, that I was masticating each word into pulp. A sense of failure came over me. Seconds seemed like hours. Light stories about the two of us growing up weighed down on me like tired old jokes, and my right eye was burning worse than ever. By the time I finished, my knees were weak. But at least I got through it.

I decided to stay for the rest of the program. When it was over I asked some friends if they felt I had botched my talk, due to a weird allergic reaction I was having to some wine from the night before. My mother grew concerned, and asked me a few questions. She too suspected I had had a stroke, and wanted to take me to the hospital emergency room. I said I felt good enough to catch my plane, but promised to go to a hospital in Las Vegas as soon as I got there.

As I drove to Albuquerque, my mind started working on me. The feeling of things left undone kept gnawing. I made a vow to accomplish all the things I needed to accomplish before my demise, if only I could survive this time around. The flight provided even more time to contemplate undone things. Topping the list was the feeling I had not told my family enough how much I love them.

I finally landed in Las Vegas and took a taxi to the hotel where my family was staying. When they opened the room door to let me in, a wonderful sense of good fortune washed over me. Effusively I told Linda and Kylene that I loved them. Then I told them of my strange condition. My wife took me to a hospital, and there a doctor told me I had Bell’s Palsy. Nothing serious, she said, just a virus that would eventually go away. Her words were a great relief.

I’m still determined to all the things I need to do before St. Peter comes knocking at my door. But if I don’t finish them all, the one thing I will not forget to do is to tell my family that I love them. You do the same.

Have a good day.

Stan

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