In God’s Time…

The Craziness Of It All

Ten years-old but growing up so fast and wise beyond her years!
Ten years-old but growing up so fast and wise beyond her years!

I have yearned to return to the Philippines since coming back to the U.S. from that land in 2004. I only took my newborn (4/9/03) FilAm(Filipino/American) daughter and my Filipino wife so they could meet my parents who were both in their seventies.  Dad is now eighty-five, but Mom passed away in 2010 and that’s too bad because my mom and my daughter were becoming close, despite the their age gap.

My beautiful mother, 1948
My beautiful mother, 1948.  (Photo damaged by the sun.)






I had made three previous trips to those islands; my first journey to their land was in 1998.  I still recall stepping outside of the airport that first time and inhaling chunks of the polluted air, but I thought the reason was because of the congested traffic picking up and dropping off and because of the confined, on three sides, waiting area.  And there was no wind to blow the stench away. 

The only thing I knew of the Philippines is what I’d been told by a trusted friend, what I’d read at the library and on the computer in preparation for the trip.  It was a land of friendly people, the Philippines, “Land of Smiles” .

I did have doubts about going that first time, mainly because of my disability.  The permanent disability is a TBI or traumatic brain injury and all parts of my body were affected, you name it…slow thought processing, right-side partial paralysis, nonexistent dexterity, balance, coördination, speech impediments.  The doctors even told my first wife that I would be a vegetable if I lived.  But I am far from being atrophied or vegetable like.

I chose to go to the Philippines instead of another foreign land mainly because their generous monetary exchange rate would boost my lowly income from disability insurance.  Another deciding factor was that most Filipinos spoke English (third largest English-speaking (per capita) country in the world).  However, some did not understand what they said so it would become frustrating to me occasionally. 

I took that initial trip and my disability proved itself not to be a problem and that was good because another reason for going there was to receive affordable therapy.  I was unable to get therapy in the U.S. (unless I were to go on welfare and I refuse to depend on that!) and the therapy I had there was wonderful, though not progressive. 

That Philippine therapy was the same as what I received in the U.S. five years earlier but at a higher cost in America.  In the U.S. my co-pay was a third of my entire monthly income; I realized that could not be sustained for another month and that cost was through Medicare, supposedly inexpensive.   In America, the cost was too high for one visit per week. In the land of beautiful ocean fronts, Coconut Trees, courteous, smiling people, wonderful foods and entertainment, the fun but respectful physical therapists came to the townhouse where I rented a room, for my sessions.   The country’s labor force is exceptional… there was no need for going to the clinic or hospital for my twice weekly sessions with two Pilipino therapists who were always smiling. 

There was one magnificent difference, for me anyway, and that was instead of a boring walk on the treadmill or pedaling the stationary wheel which they always brought with them… the lovely and pretty therapists accompanied me as I walked on the grassy knoll towards the sandy beach.  That way the ladies could measure my walking on different surfaces and not always on the smooth belt type of surface that was neither rough nor bumpy nor like real life.        


The other therapist took the photo after they placed me in the tree.  I hung on with my left side.
The other therapist took the photo after they placed me in the tree. I hung on with my left side.

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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