Blessed or Cursed

by Tobias, R.W. Brown
(Frankenmuth, Michigan USA)

The extreme, sharp shooting pain came in an instant. A "Moment in time" that would change my life, as I knew it, forever. It was not because of the sudden jerk of the leash, as I was walking my dog. Rather a slow life-long process where my discs began to disintegrate. At the age of 65 my entire spine was a mess! More so, however in the Cervical area of my spine. The nerve-root endings were so severely compressed that it was causing extreme pain in my neck, left shoulder, arm and hand. Thus started the vicious rounds of tests, therapy and medications.

Finally, March 28th, 2013 a team of Veterans Administration Neurosurgeons operated on my cervical spine "neck" from the front. However not before their was severe atrophy and muscle wasting in my left fore arm and hand. So much so that it was very weak and not of much use. My left hand is crippled in a claw-like manner, with fine motor skills being practically non-existent.

During the first year after the initial pain began, my job of 13 years abruptly ended. I was at that time responsible for 13 columns in "The Saginaw Press", a weekly legal newspaper in Saginaw, Michigan. I knew nothing about the newspaper business when I started, it was only supposed to be a few days a week. In reality though, in the end I was working a lot of hours but not for much monetary gain.

Although I would have hoped for more money, I was satisfied, because all of my columns had a Religious flair. Fatima, Akita, all Marion predictions, "the Chip" and more. Always promoting the Rosary and The Divine Mercy Chaplet, and that these prayers were universal, meant for all, Catholics and non- Catholics alike.

Our subscribers were not entirely Catholic but in fact just the opposite. Soon the paper prospered more than it had in the past 100 years. My boss George, decided to sell the paper...while he and Suzanne were negotiating Suzanne said, "If I am going to buy the paper Tobias' religious shit has to go, this is a legal newspaper, not the other Catholic Weekly". So all my columns stopped. I told George, "The paper had been dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and The Sacred Heart of Jesus and without their protection the paper
would fold within a year". Which it did and thus their was no Saginaw Press to sell.

After my columns were pulled, my hours were cut, the paper closed, I received unemployment for a year and I was facing Surgery for decompression of the nerves and fusion of the neck vertebra.

Yesterday, I had my 4 month check-up in Indiana. The doctor said, "The pain I am still experiencing hopefully will dissipate in time. The muscle atrophy and weakness in my left hand and arm will never return. Hopefully they have stopped the progression of the disease so it would not affect my right hand and arm. My entire spine is in bad shape and they only fused and caged the worst ones. Report back in 6 months." I thought Christmas my favorite time of the year.

After the paper closed, I let my house go back to the owner "George" for one dollar. I moved to Frankenmuth, Michigan. The Christmas capital of the world, where it is Christmas every day of the year. I live in a retirement center where I have my own apartment and patio. Presently adorned with many flowers.

My life has changed drastically but now I have accepted my disability and spend my days making therapy corn heat bags, crocheting rag rugs, reading and writing. I think it will be a while before "Shine" is published. I receive my Social Security which is not a whole lot of money.

I recently went to the "Farmers Market" here in Frankenmuth, a lady, one of the venders said to me, "Aren't you Tobias, who wrote all the columns for the Saginaw Press?" Yes, I said. "Well your gonna have to find another paper, you have no idea how many lives you touched with your columns".

Although I'm 67 "the old ones here" just love me and call me the flower man because of all the flowers on my patio. I do believe that sometimes Our Lord gives us added crosses to carry` and although I have lost the use of one of my limbs I truly feel Blessed. And Mary my Mother will continue to lead me on the right path. The one that leads me home and into Jesus' arms. Blessed or cursed? You be the judge. Make today the best one yet, no matter what. Hugs, Tobias...

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