For those of you who know me personally or have been following this blog for the past year, you invariably have heard about the saga of Tom & Connie Odegard, two of the dearest souls on this planet, my adopted west coast parents & mentors. Read on, the news is good!
For those of you who do not, let me introduce you to these two outrageously loving and wise beings who have helped me through thick & thin...
The tale began with a surreal call one morning last April from Tom's niece in Mt. Shasta--there had been an accident, near-fatal, & the prospects were not good. A semi-truck plowed into them from behind & smashed their Jeep into the median. Oh, god. Both were in the ICU, but in separate hospitals due to the extreme severity of Connie's injuries. The wording at the end of the conversation was, "We don't think they're going to make it."
I don't think my hand has ever shaken as much as it did as I placed our phone back on the cradle. We'd expected Tom & Connie the night before as we're one of their pit-stops back to San Juan Island from Oakland, but thought perhaps that they were tired from the long drive and made an extra stop-over somewhere in Oregon, or maybe they decided to stay an extra day in Shasta. Tom is as old-fashioned as me, but bought a cell phone last year, not knowing how to work half the buttons. (We're two peas in a pod, that way.) I'd thought it odd that we hadn't heard from him, but I wasn't too concerned... How wrong I was.
Over the next weeks I talked to Tom daily in the ICU as he was slightly better off, at least conscious. He faced difficult questions about Connie--what surgeries to approve or not--all under the influence of morphine & who knows what else. How far do you go to save the one you love? Is it for you, or for them? And what will their quality of life be like if they pull through?
During those terrible months of uncertainty last spring, Madeleine became a message post for all the friends of the Odegards--and there are many. Poets sent odes, strangers became family as they expressed their love & admiration for these two, prayers went out throughout the globe, a benefit was organized by the San Juan Fire Department to help pay for Connie's physical therapy... The outpouring of love was overwhelming and I am eternally thankful & anxious to report that their recovery has been nothing short of astonishing. Much of this is due to sheer tenacity on the part of both T & C, but I have to believe that the tremendous outcry of hope & support helped mend their broken wings. Thank you all for believing this could happen !!!
For Connie, it's been a long haul to find her way back to us. Months of painful rehabilitation, a loss of mobility & independence took its toll in the form of a deep depression that left her without appetite which seemed unfathomable considering her love of the culinary arts. For Tom, his role became full-time caretaker & nursemaid, a job he dutifully took up but which took a great toll on himself. They were alive, back on San Juan, but everything was much much different now.
And then--through the combined miracle of pharmaceutical pills, herbal concoctions, & TLC, something happened. Consuela Odegard woke up one morning, looked at her husband and said in plain English, "I want a steak."
I've honestly been wanting to update you all on their progress for months, so I asked Tom to send a picture, any picture of Connie which you see at the beginning of this blog... But having seen this miraculous transformation I hardly felt it expressed the here & the now. So with great joy, I unveil a photo of Connie, one year later.
Tah-dah! This is Connie at her finest, cooking meatballs ala Lidia Bastianich for us last week after I had tired of sweating over a pot of "long-cooking sugo" that just wouldn't seem to thicken despite hours on the stove. I gave up & sat down to a glass of Pinot Grigio while Connie took over. Umm, she's in her early-70's, I'm in my late-30's... Something's wrong here.
We all have been through a lot of changes over the last year, & none of them have been easy. But what matters most is that we lived to tell the tale and it has a very happy ending indeed. I love you with all my heart T & C! It's so good to have you back...