Mark Twain once said: “Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated.”
Marie Daniel, who was a teacher of mine in high school and works at the Jacksonville Center now — and did when I had a studio there in 2004 through 2007 — got a shock when she sent me a get well card during my hospital stay in November and December and got the card back in the mail with a post office stamp that read “recipient deceased.”
Seems her card arrived after Carillion discharged me and the hospital returned the card with its abbreviation for “discharged.” Someone at the Roanoke Post office misread the code and stamped the envelope “recipient deceased.”
Marie brought me the card when I was having lunch at the country store last week and we both had a good laugh.
But it also drove home the reality of the motorcycle crash I suffered on Nov. 9 while trying to avoid a black cow in the dark on U.S. 221 between Cave Spring and Bent Mountain in Roanoke County.
At the accident scene, I stopped breathing more than once and the rescue squad had to revive me. In the emergency room, doctors did not display much optimism to my wife when the question of survival came up. In intensive care, I suffered a seizure and my heart stopped because of an allergic reaction to a drug.
Each time, the medical professionals brought me back.
Eventually — suffering from a right leg with multiple broken bones, massive damage to the right side of my face and a closed head injury with brain damage — I beat the odds and came through: Thanks to God, the love and support of friends, my loving wife and excellent medical care.
And, with respect for Mark Twain and the mistakes of the Post Office in Roanoke, I can now smile and say “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
That point was driven home to me again today when, while leaving the Blue Ridge Restaurant after breakfast, a man I didn’t know walked up, looked at me, and said:
Wait a minute. I heard you were near death a couple of months ago. How can you be on your feet now? It’s not possible. Were the newspaper stories wrong?
No, the stories were correct. I wish I could explain why it turned out like it did, but I can’t.
I’m just glad it did.