Tag Archives: news

In Love with Love

27 Oct

Today i woke up white

pale skin set my site

but what if i woke up black

would my future be set back?

Today i woke up white

no nazi’s were in sight

but what if i went to shul

would a fate of mine be cruel?

Today i woke up white

headlines filled with fright

red heart is broken two

isn’t all human blood blue?

Today i woke up white

fists up ready to fight

hate is not the hue

can’t fight war for peace

can you?

Reflections of love as my heart wrestles with the hate spewed out, in word and action, around the world this past month, even just today. The lower case “i” symbolically used.

From discussion, to introspection, to action. Heart aching with the “other.”

~Rivka B.

Extreme Cole Update

5 Oct

Sounds like a TV show, right?  Well most of you already know that we don’t have television in our home (the conventional channels, we only have dvd players and internet of course).  Even so somehow I am abreast of titles of TV shows; i.e. ‘Extreme Home Makeover’.  And when I read today’s posting title, that television show comes to mind (though I know nothing more of it than its name implies).  Why no television?  For the most part we have made that choice because life in itself is already an adventure filled with tragedy, comedy, and plenty of drama!  Allow me to serve up a healthy portion…

Cole is doing remarkably well!  In addition to having one-on-one physical therapy, three times per week, he has begun to work out in the wet and dry, adaptive kinesiology program at our local college, Saddleback.  He begins on Tuesday by getting in the pool at noon.  He works out for about an hour and then moves to the adaptive gym where they have all kinds of equipment for every possible physical disability.  He works out in the Saddleback gym on Friday afternoon’s as well.  Yesterday, he was swimming in the rain.  As he put it, “Yes, I was swimming.  Underwater, with goggles that actually work!”  He then gave me a look of accusation for not providing him adequate equipment here at home…he is quite expressive for a guy who has lost use of his facial muscles!!

During Cole’s first meeting at the gym he was introduced to a man named, Fermin.  Fermin had a stroke 8 years ago leaving him fully paralyzed on his right side, yet he now races in triathlons!  So Fermin took to Cole right away, seeing in him a drive (in all honesty, I would like to use the word ‘acceleration’ instead of drive.  It feels more accurate in describing Cole, but the English language confines me, currently, to the word ‘drive’–but keep in mind I am meaning it to reflect ‘forward motion’).  So Fermin showed Cole his recumbent bike, used for racing (and getting around); and offered to allow Cole a try at it around the running track there at the college.  Cole accepted the offer and we set a date for last Friday.  Brian came and our neighbor and good friend, Harry, met us.  Brian helped Cole into the bike and off he went…down the track, full speed ahead!  He hadn’t even gotten his helmet on (as Brian and I were quick to notice, while biting our nails).  Man-o-man, he raced that bike on that track like he had no disability whatsoever!  His Saddleback instructor, Pam, was also present and then invited Cole to tag along with her to a disability expo happening the next day.  Cole accepted the invitation and spent all day Saturday experiencing a new world of, “I can”.  He kayaked, climbed rocks, did pull-ups, met new people, and tried out different types of apparatuses.  He met a VA counselor there who asked Cole how long it had been since his surgery.  When Cole replied with, “six months”, the counselor said, “man, that’s it…if you are doing this well at 6 months, what is stopping me?!”  I said, “wow Cole, you counseled the counselor!”  He said, “oh yeah…”  When he returned home in the early evening he was wiped out.  But it wasn’t as he puts it, “neurological fatigue”.  In other words, he felt great and tired too!

Now backing up some, on that Friday at the college track Harry met us with a purpose.  You see, a few years ago Harry lost his legs to diabetes.  And when he received his prosthesis legs, he and his wife walked around the track.  At that time Fermin bestowed upon Harry a triathlon medal he had won.  The sentiment was that it would be a traveling medal, bestowed to a person the bearer of the medal feels exhibits characteristics of a hero.  So Fermin gave it to Harry and that day at the track Harry gave it to Cole.  It was very touching for us watching, and all of it has touched Cole deeply.

For the first time, post surgery, Cole is future focused.  Not that he didn’t see the future before, I mean he spoke of traveling (still does), but he “feels” the future.  For the first time he isn’t concerned about having disabilities.  He is going to overcome them…  Riding around the track gave him hope for driving a car again.  Meeting Fermin and people at the expo who are not letting their physical (or mental) challenges thwart their progress spoke volumes to him.    Being entrusted with a ‘hero’s medal’ from a man he admires, encourages his soul.  He is so on his way!

And then, yes there is more…the Orange County Register actually contacted me to do a story (based off of the letter in my previous post).  The reporter came yesterday and the story just might be in print by this coming weekend or next week (scary–you never know how one will interpret something).  Then on Sunday Cole had another set of MRI’s.  We picked up the report yesterday and all looks good; no changes.  YAY!!  Now with all of this news, you can understand better my title.



Got Milk?

29 Sep

Off the bat, my title means nothing!  I am just not wanting to take the time to invest in coming up with something catchy and creative.  So “got milk” is borrowed.  Of course it has relevance because our family goes through milk so quickly that my neighbors are often checking in with that very question!

A couple things;  I am slow to approve first time comments because I forget that I have them waiting.  Or I forget that is how I have the blog set up.  I will get to it, though it takes a while, but once your first comment is approved you will no longer need mediation for subsequent commentary.  Also, I have written a letter of gratitude toward our business community.  I have been petitioning our local, city paper to run it as well as the Orange County register.  However, getting anyone to respond is challenging.  So I am going to put the letter here in case it is never published for the appropriate people to see.  Not that this group is inappropriate, just that I am hoping to give a little “free publicity” and recognition to the businesses mentioned.  Anyway, here it is:

A Community Effort

By Rivka Bent, 9/2011

 Back in February of this year my son, Cole, returned home to San Juan Capistrano from serving in the United States Marine Corps.  In March, one month after his return, thanks to symptoms from hemorrhage, we learned he had a rare, cancerous brain tumor on his brain stem propelling him into immediate surgery.  During the two months hospital stay and these past four months of rehabilitation, our family has had the privilege of experiencing the generosity and compassion of so many people.  As is customary with illness of any kind, family and friends rally around and support the familial unit being affected.  However, in this letter, it is the generosity of the community at large that I wish to highlight.

 Because Cole is military affiliated, there are many avenues of correspondence which are required.  Faxes, certified letters, copies, over-nighted documents, etc.  I cannot thank Bill and Susan Odelson, of the Paper Annex in Marbella Plaza, enough for their unconditional help.  They have established, “Cole’s Tab”; a non-existent account where they keep the balance due at $0.00.  Yet they weekly fax, copy, and mail out a multitude of information on Cole’s behalf without giving it a second thought.  Additionally, Bill, a veteran himself, has kept a watchful eye over my correspondence methodology to ensure every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed.  Who would have thought our local mail-station/stationary counter would care so much?  While our balance due on ‘Cole’s Tab’ is zero, our debt of gratitude can never be repaid.

 Another fine example of giving comes from our neighboring city of San Clemente.  Back in June I took Cole to the Ole Hanson Beach Club to see if an aquatic class could accommodate him and his rehabilitative needs.  The manager of the pool, Marty, generously took Cole’s cause into consideration and welcomed him to utilize any and all of their equipment.  On that first meeting we were also greeted by one of the instructors, Vicky, who offered her rehabilitative knowledge and expertise to Cole, twice a week for the entire summer; free of charge.  Debra and Cane, other instructors who teach at the Ole Hanson pool, were considerate enough to share their rented time in the water, allowing Vicky to work her magic with Cole which ultimately improved his strength and balance.  Everyone at Ole Hanson looked upon Cole with a compassion that brought me to tears every time we went.  As with Bill and Susan, our gratitude to all of the people we encountered this summer while at Ole Hanson is immeasurable and forever felt.

 In addition to the two aforementioned community establishments, there are multiple community members who have offered support.  For instance, Buddy the owner of Frio our downtown gelato/frozen yogurt hub, has shown compassion towards our family and slipped Cole a gelato “on the house” once or twice.  An associate working at Kinko’s, learned he was photocopying Cole’s medical chart to send overnight to the VA and decided to take the expense out of his own pocket.  There is more than one Costco employee praying for Cole’s recovery as well as Greg from Staples who has faithfully been praying for Cole since his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.  Professors and staff from Saddleback College inquire often into Cole’s progress along with Professors Carmenmara and Beatrice who visited Cole in ICU more than once.  Boy Scout Troop 724 has come alongside our family with generosity and hands on assistance.  Optometrist, Dr. Joe Heinrich, has donated an eye exam, and Ocampo’s Landscaping is keeping up our yard.  The librarian at the San Juan Library, the owners from Hummingbird Café, and Arthur from the Old Barn have given us much encouragement during the difficult days in our journey.

 The concept of “it takes a village to raise children” is credited to Hillary Clinton; however, the practice of it falls into the hands of our southland community.  Though we have traffic congestion daily, and frustrations that come from living in crowded areas, we also have a community support system that assuages the tension of gridlock and smoothes the wrinkles of our differences.  We are a community of varying races, faiths, political views, and parenting styles.  Yet when challenges arrive, we become of the same blood and of the same purpose.  Our village is strong because it is full of compassionate and beautiful people.  We are honored to be a part of it.

%d bloggers like this: