Here’s to my friend Jan on the 10th anniversary of her stroke

My friend Jan has always been one of our neighborhoods’ more impressive residents. A cheerful whirling dervish, Jan worked as a school nurse, mothered two boys and greeted every weird medical question I had with a confident smile and a ready solution.

In a general phone conversation with her once, I casually mentioned that I thought baby Molly might have an ear infection.

“Want me to take a look?” she asked and I had barely completed the words “yes please,” when she knocked at my door, otoscope in hand.

Ten years ago, Jan suffered a devastating stroke and, in its wake, she struggled mightily to work her way back to the life she loved. In true Jan Blume fashion, she recently celebrated the anniversary of that challenging event with a letter to her wide circle of friends.

Here, with her gracious permission, is that amazing letter. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did:

What I have learned in the 10 years since my stroke:

I married the right man! There is nothing Greg wouldn’t do for me. Having him home since he retired two years ago has been wonderful!

Chris and John (her sons) have their own lives but are always there for me.

My sister Mary is the funniest person I ever met and brings me through dark times.

My brother Mike is so kind and a super grandfather! Kathy would be so proud.

It is really handy to have a disability plate (esp. at holidays).

My friends are AWESOME! It is possible to make great new friends in later years.

I have become a better listener.

That being a gracious receiver matters as much as being a cheerful giver.

Time goes too fast!

That life does not have to be perfect to be full and rich.

Laughter truly is the best medicine.

I really like Margaritas (on the rocks, no salt). Just sayin….

Swallowing is much better than not swallowing, but it is harder on the waistline.

10 years later I am still overwhelmed with gratitude for all I have!

God bless you and yours in 2019.

Among the things Jan lost with her stroke and fought hard to retrieve was the ability to swallow. This is her learning to swallow again. Jan’s inability to swallow led us to form a movie club with our other friend Tami and all three of us have enjoyed our movie dates, even though some of the movies we’ve seen have been really terrible. But most have been fantastic and the company is always stellar.
Jan and Greg Blume in the early post-stroke days. They are an amazing couple I’m proud to call my friends.
This is a recent picture of Jan and one of her new friends, Shelby. “Shelby takes me every week to my workout and we have become dear friends.” I’m not sure what’s more remarkable, how far Jan has come since her stroke, or how wide her smile remained throughout her tremendous challenges. I once dropped her off at a school to visit and, as she made her way to the door, she tripped and nearly hit the pavement. I jumped out of the car and she turned around, laughing, and said, “Scared you didn’t I?” Happy Anniversary Jan, congratulations on your remarkable journey and thanks for calling me friend.

7 thoughts on “Here’s to my friend Jan on the 10th anniversary of her stroke

  1. I look fondly back on the lessons Jan taught me as a beginning SLP in working with families. It is great to hear how things are now, and to hear more of her special wisdom!

  2. Jan, you have always been my inspiration, before AND after your stroke. Your love for people is amazing. Miss you! Thank you for being you! ❤️

  3. Jan (and Greg) have been dear family friends for 45ish years. I feel so privileged to know them both. Amazing people. Jan…your storytelling abilities are like none other. Your strength in the face of diversity is unparalleled. Love you both so much and was so happy to spend a couple days with you “up north.” We need to make it a yearly tradition.

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