News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome Back, Good Will

Something truly nice happened today.

The Brown County Fair is going on. Back when I was a full time journalist, the newspaper I worked for covered 12 county fairs. As I was the farm editor, I was busy during July and August covering eight of them. We had a policy of publishing all the judging results from one day in the next day's paper. The Brown County Fair is one of the best I have witnessed. The only thing it needs is harness racing. Horses that trot or pace fast provide wonderful breaks between those sessions of typing up long lists of names. And if you are real friendly to the trainers and handlers you might be able to place a wager or two with a tout that returns nice dividends.

I have some responsibilities at two booths this year, one of which is for the Brown County Democrats, for which I am treasurer. This year, some people came around and asked if there was a Welcome Home card to sign for Sen. Tim Johnson. There wasn't then, but within minutes someone got some sheets of poster board for people to sign, and there has been a line at the booth for people to sign a card ever since.

Today, a woman with a Thune sticker on her blouse wandered over and asked if she could sign. And she did. That was impressive.

But my real point about welcoming Tim Johnson home has to do with his recovery. I am at that age when people have what medical folks now like to call "episodes." My oldest brother died in his sleep in February. Quite an episode. But my next older brother had an episode about a year and half ago, a stroke. He lives alone in a condo that overlooks a beautiful ravine among the many that run down to the Mississippi and Rock Rivers in Illinois. Our first concern was what kind of arrangements do we have to make for his care.

Perhaps, as recently as ten years ago, the assumption was that a stroke that left one with some mental and physical damage meant one had to find a care facility. But the physicians started my brother on a therapy program for his memory and speech and his affected muscles. He bitched like hell about how hard the therapists worked him, but he is now living alone again, quite self-sufficient, and enjoying his condo.

For me, the return of Sen. Tim Johnson is not a political event. It is a sign of what has been accomplished in restoring people to their full functions and to making the contributions they can make for us.

Shortly after Sen. Johnson's "episode," the vultures gathered around his bed, cyberly speaking, and pronounced his demise and said he should resign from life and the U.S. Senate. Then at news of his recoverly, they insisted that he put himself on display so they could see if he had any speech defects or spastic movements.

The 14th rule of the Hippocratic Oath is not to surround a patient with a bunch of gawking jerks who want to see what a negative diagnosis and prognosis they can come up with. They do not provide a good environment for recovery.

In a little over a week, the Senator will be with us to be greeted with stacks of Welcome Back posters. For people who need evidence of what advances we have made in restoring people to productive lives, his return will have special significance. And for people who wonder what happened to neighborly good will, the lady with the Thune button has preserved something important.

1 comment:

No said...

Nice to meet another local Democrat...I thought I was the only one here! (Besides Tom Daschle, of course---where did he go?)

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States