Response Letter to a Lovely Lady

Don’t Mean To Scare You Away, But…

Dear Kina,

Kina at Robinson’s Apartelles, Mandaluyong, Manila, Philippines – 1998

I find it more admirable that you are not online constantly, though I also understand, that the computer affords you time away from real life and that it is a way to pass the time in your beautiful land.

You asked about my injury and mainly about my shoulder?  I do not understand why that particular area?   I can tell you about the traumatic brain injury, but in the words of my friend, Edie, “Nobody gets TBI…unless they get it!”  Yes, I am disabled; my entire right side is partially paralyzed and I walk with a noticeable limp.

Allow me to tell you what happened:  July 31, 1988… I was driving a car that flipped end over end at 100 MPH and I was not wearing a seat-belt. I flew out of the top of the car as it was equipped with t-tops and that day they were off because the temperature was a record setter – 107∘ F.  That was the end of my blessed life!

Finally, I emerged from the coma in late September of ’88.  My friend, Mike, gave his account of what happened a year later after successfully suing me for the insurance money.

Mike told me, “I remember looking at you while you drove – you were driving fast – but you always did!  You had both hands on the wheel and were looking straight ahead talking about the car we were in because you had just bought it for Nancy.  The next thing I heard was, uhh – ahh – ahh and sticks, branches and leaves were coming inside.  Then the car stopped and all was quiet.  I undid my seat-belt and tried opening the door, but I couldn’t.   I made myself skinny and went through the roof where the panel was gone.  There I was, in the middle of a field, dazed and a huge bump on my knee; I looked around but didn’t see you, I hollered your name, but there was no answer.  I began walking towards the road and there was still no sign of you.   After wandering the field for a while I noticed a man and a woman bending over somebody lying on the ground. I don’t know why, but I began running towards them shouting, don’t you die you sonofabitch!”

That guy was from a house across from that field and back from the road a bit.  He gave me CPR until the ambulance arrived and it was lucky for me, I guess; that the ambulance was at Cedar Lake Speedway a quarter mile down the road.  Actually the accident proved unlucky for me but lucky for all others involved.  Who I was, died in that accident (not physically, but in every other way).

The ambulance arrived shortly and loaded me in the back. They then sped their way to Holy Family Hospital in the nearest town of New Richmond, Wisconsin. They were not able to do anything for me except to ready me for an “Air ambulance ride” to North Memorial Trauma Center way off in a suburb of Minneapolis about fifty miles away.

I spent the next two months there in a coma. I had seven broken ribs on the left and right sides. I had a punctured lung and a collapsed lung, a broken collar-bone and my right-side at that time was completely paralyzed. I was unable to speak.  The discharge summary from that place said that my brain stem had been completely severed (though, the doctors must have been mistaken.) it was hanging on by the sinewy veins, I guess because I have recovered pretty well, considering.

The brain stem connects with the nerves and tells you what you should feel, how to move and how to feel, well that is why I still walk with a limp; the nerves are not receiving the correct signals.  I had a traumatic brain injury and was pronounced dead twice, given “Last Rites” and the family was told that if I did live I would be a vegetable. Obviously, the professionals were wrong once again.

I spent over a year in different hospitals, nursing homes and a physical and cognitive rehabilitation center.  I attempt improvement with every breath I take.

I am raising my, now, eleven- year old daughter .  I am trying to instill in her independence, “Ask for what you need and don’t be timid or afraid of things such as spiders and bugs, face your fears,” I tell her.

2012 - Just before her dance performance with CSFA at Burnsville Performing Arts Center...
2012 – Just before her dance performance with CSFA at Burnsville Performing Arts Center…

She just now hollered from the couch, “I love you, Dad”

She is involved with things such as Girl Scouts, horseback riding, violin playing and karate.  284744_10150240113614565_562909564_7247656_2877354_n


                                                                                                                                                           Practicing violin…2010    






Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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