Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Afternoon with Corinne

Meet Corinne, my "sister" in the church family.... a vivacious, fun-loving and inspiring woman whose life was altered dramatically a number of years ago with the diagnosis of ALS - commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
I recently had the pleasure of an afternoon with her and asked permission to introduce you to her by way of this blog.
As I drove up the long and winding driveway, I found Corinne wheeling about outdoors in the company of Belle, the family dog - beautiful in both appearance and disposition. The three of us set out for a jaunt in the late summer sun - me with my camera and Corinne with her talking device.

Corinne's first clue to the presence of ALS was a persistent problem with slurred speech.
It took many months coming to a final conclusive diagnosis since it is typically a process of eliminating all other possibilities.
Accepting the reality of the disease is of course, a painful journey all its own, the sorrow of which cannot be fathomed by the rest of us.   Yet we are called to participate in each other's joys and sorrows within the construct of what I like to dub, the Ultimate Family.  
In this context and for good purpose, what I (and so many others) see now, is a woman filled with courage and determination to bear this burden with all the pizazz she can muster.
I see a measure of God's grace and light that is so powerful, I am humbled and blessed to the core every time I see her... and we get to see a lot of her.
She wouldn't dream of shirking the number of days left to her - using every opportunity to remind us of the blessing of life here on earth, as temporary and brief as it is.

Corinne is a bona fide country girl. I have her permission to share one of the more 'interesting' experiences of my life made ten times more memorable simply because she was a primary figure in it!
We've been members of the same church family all of my married life and many years ago, we somehow found ourselves planning a trip downtown to the local Barton Detention Centre to visit a troubled young man of our church family - incarcerated there for a time.
One of Corinne's gifts is encouragement - she makes it her business to dispense with it whenever/however she can. I certainly needed her bravado to do the same as we drove through that seedy part of the city - a committed pair of country bumpkins looking every bit the part as we cautiously circled the parking lot with our full size family van in search of a spot.

And we two, neatly but overdressed greenhorns to despondency naively picked our way over to a surprisingly long waiting line outside the entrance where one by one - we had to submit to a security checkpoint to gain entry. There was a scrawny little fellow named Mark who seemed to know all the other regulars in that line-up - really friendly in a curious sort of way. The guard on duty blandly informed us to leave our purses behind and pointed to a row of outdoor lockers of dubious condition.
Who did the man think he was kidding?  We weren't born yesterday.
Discreetly, I ran to lock them away in the back of the van.
An hour later, we emerged from our supervised visit (through a glass panel and using an *ugh &gag* common phone to chat with our petty criminal friend only to find the van's back window blown out - and you guessed it -- two missing purses!

We interrupt this story with a portrait of Beautiful Belle who was only allowed to walk us to the end of the driveway. Corinne instructed me in her own inimitable way, to order Belle back home. But alas, we had to trot her back up the driveway and put her in the outdoor kennel ourselves; me - virtually jogging to keep up to Corinne's lead hand on the controls ... LOL

So where was I with the story? Ah yes.
Upon realizing our purses were stolen, Corinne Quick Wit, grabbed the cell phone from the dashboard to cancel her credit cards and captivated the bank teller with tales of the hoist in a Detention Centre parking lot -- under the steady gaze of a few surveillance cameras no less!
The front desk security guard nonchalantly pointed the way to the downtown police precinct with a tired familiarity that was none too comforting. Back into the van we loaded - undeterred, pulling into a Tim Horton's to grab a coffee before filing our paperwork with the police.
The momentary awkwardness at the drive-thru window when we realized we couldn't pay for our order was broken by Corinne's trademark laughter and she once again regaled the employee with our tale of misadventure ... the coffee was on the house after that!
After another hour with the police, filling out one form after another we crossed the street into the metered parking lot and removed a $25.00 parking fine from under the front wiper.
Was it too much to ask for the parking bylaw officer to see a blown out back window and put two and two together?  Pfft!
I might have cried had not Corinne chosen that precise moment to christen the air with yet another trademark peel of hearty laughter.  I could naught but join her - all the way home, long past the dinner hour. There's an indefatigable optimism about Corinne that helps one see past the problem to the opportunity. It's (she's) a lovely thing to be around.

Corinne acknowledges every vehicle that passes us by with a small wave. She still manages to have the guys honk at her! :)  That indomitable spirit of hers shines so bright.  I can hear her sparkling laughter.

We were examining a deer path through the forest (she had to identify it to me, the far less observant one of the pair) when the sun broke through the clouds and instantly warmed our roadside parking spot.
By the way, that scrawny little fellow named Mark surfaced once again in my life not six months after that episode.  I saw him duck into the dressing room at the hockey arena where I was watching my sons go thru their ridiculous 6 am drills. (!)?  this time I recognized him for the petty accomplished thief he was and sent a few daddies in after him -- too soon to catch him in the act unfortunately and sadly, he had already ripped a few cars off in the parking lot which wasn't noticed until he was long gone.
Let it not be said that a country bumpkin cannot learn 'street smartness' after all!

Apparently, Corinne's father-in-law made these bird houses. On the way back, I saw many others dotting the landscape as well as the trees up her long & winding driveway.

Hubby Gary was telling us one Sunday about how his wife 'takes him out for a jog' in her mobile and how he had taken a fluke (but apt) picture of her cruising past a speed sign.
I could not resist getting my own evidence of her lead - uhmm ... hand.
But now I must publish this post as late as it is.
I love you Corinne. Your spirit. Your witness.  We never fail to pray for you and thank God for you.
I see Jesus in you and look forward to the day we will laugh together again with great abandon. Meanwhile, please know that you 'speak' more powerfully now than ever before.
Readers can reach Corinne with their own note of encouragement at:


  1. So beautiful - both of you - inside and out. Thanks for the email address. Joyce

  2. Thanks for saying it so perfectly Joanne! We truly do see that wonderful spirit in Corinne. Praying God will continue to cause her to be such a blessing to us all.

  3. THANK YOU Joanne, THANK YOU!!!
    A few tears shed but so nice to still read.


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