Submitted by Darin Severson, Regional Operations Manager – South Texas, at Capital Senior Living
During a recent visit to Heritage Oaks, I was asked to meet with a resident who had a complaint and wanted to speak to someone in charge. I was introduced to the resident, Richard. Richard invited me in to his home, and asked me to sit down for a few minutes to talk. I quickly realized that Richard did not have a complaint, but a request. As I sat and listened to Richard, I understood that his request was a heartfelt request to enjoy his lifetime passion, one last time in-person.
It turns out that Richard has ALS and spends most of his days in his room, in his power wheelchair, listening to baseball games on the radio or watching the games on TV. His passion is the Houston Astros, and his request was very simple, yet powerful. He wanted to see his beloved Astros play one last time, in person, while he still had sufficient command of his body, and was able to enjoy the experience. His only issue was that no one in his family had a vehicle that would get him to and from the game, as he has a power wheelchair. A plan was developed, and with the help of the ALS Association of Texas, Richard would get his wish.
Two weeks after my meeting with Richard, he was surprised by his son and grandchildren with the news of his pending trip to the ball game. Richard broke down in tears when he heard the news. The day of the game finally arrived, the look on Richard’s face was like a child on Christmas morning. His son and grandchildren arrived at the community, and he was off on his trip to the Astros and Minute Maid Park.
While sitting at the game with Richard and talking with him, I learned that he was not just an Astro’s fan, but a historian of all things baseball, and all things Astros. I learned that the Houston Astros were originally the Colt 45’s, but, had to change their name because of a lawsuit. I also learned that Richard was an avid baseball player in his younger days and had always dreamed of making the “show”. In a rare moment of weakness from this man, he said, ”I had always dreamed of being in the majors, I just never thought that I would get a Major League Disease instead.” ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Lou Gehrig was a baseball player for the New York Yankee’s for 17 years in the 1920’s and 30’s. ALS is a disease that impacts the neurons controlling voluntary muscles in the body. Richard later in the evening stated that he hopes that someday they will find a cure for this disease.
Richard continued his history lesson on the Houston Astros. He was at the first game in the Astrodome in the mid 1960’s, he remembers the events of the day well, and was able to recall the score. (I looked it up later.) He was spot on. The Astro’s defeated the New York Yankee’s 2-1.
The game was Thursday night, September 5th, the Astros found themselves down 7-1 after the second inning to the Seattle Mariners. Richard concentrated on the game, taking in the sights, enjoying his hot dog. Talking with his son and grandchildren and soaking up the experience. The Astro’s ended up winning the game in extra innings 11-9. Richard summed up the night with one word, “Amazing.” As Richard returned home, and was getting off the bus, he was beaming with happiness, and a grin that went from ear to ear. It was an honor to enjoy this experience with Richard and his family an evening I will always remember and be grateful for.