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Nancy and Nate in Amazon Rain Forest, Ecuador 2010

Twenty six years ago when she was just 46, Nancy and I were living a the dream life. Kids out of college, mortgage nearly paid off, no outstanding bills. It was great. Then, literally overnight, our lives were ripped apart and changed forever.

Returning from a friend's house one evening. I parked in our driveway, came around to help my wife out of the car, and she remarked she was dizzy and had trouble walking into the house.

She was a bit frightened, but it was quite late so I told her we should go to bed. If things were no better in the morning, we would go to the hospital near our home and have things checked out.

Next morning she was not much better, so we had a little bite to eat, then got into the car and drove the three miles to the hospital. I parked in the emergency room parking area, and, as I had the night before, got out of the car and came around to get my wife out.

We started to walk the 50 or so feet from the car to the ER entrance when she simply collapsed into my arms. I literally dragged her the remaining distance to the emergency room.

Everyone could see she was in bad shape, so they took her directly into the treatment area. While I filled out the insurance forms and everything else, they began to test her to see what was wrong. Nothing certain showed up on any of their tests. She was admitted into the hospital to undergo further testing.

A few days later, while we were visiting together in her hospital room, I noticed her right hand begin to curl into a fist, and her speech became slightly slurred. I realized she was having a stroke. And over the course of the next few days, she would have several more strokes, 5 in all, involving the blockage of major arteries on both sides of her brain. It was rather "touch and go" for a few days.

Survival rates for multiple strokes are gloomy. She was in such a bad way I stayed over at the hospital because, to tell the truth, I was not sure she would make it through some of those nights.

I recall once, when things were really going badly, I prayed my heart out. "Lord, I said, "if you let her live, I will see to it that she has everything she wants from here on, and I will do everything I can to make the rest of her life as peaceful, happy, content, and fulfilling as is humanly possible."

The Lord was listening, and thankfully Nancy survived. So I set upon keeping my promise.

Given the choice of doing anything she wants to do, Nancy likes most to travel and she especially likes to be around animals. And that is how it has come to pass since that time to this, we have traveled the world, been on all 7 continents, and in more countries than I can name without a World Atlas.

Before we could do any of that, however, there was much work to be done, as she was severely limited in all respects, and far from "normal". She still had some use of her left hand, could walk a little, but had been left with the thinking and reasoning ability of a three-year-old child. It was clear to me we would have to start from scratch.

I prayed and found answers, Berkeley Springs, WV

The cabin you see here is our home in the mountains of West Virginia. It is peaceful here and at the time, I loved to run along the mountain paths early in the morning before most of the world gets up. I was running through the trails one day- thinking about Nancy lying in bed, asleep, in the cabin. I started to pray again. "Lord, I'm in over my head and could sure use some guidance. Where would You have me turn to help my Nancy"?

This may sound hokey, but the best way to describe what happened next is simply to say I got a flash of inspiration. While I was running and praying for help, this thought came from "out of the blue:"

The inspiration, the flash, was, "The basis for all learning is analogous thinking". Hot is to cold - as cold is to hot. Short is to tall - as tall is to ??? Those are known as Opposites (Antonym) Analogies.

I called a company named Hartley Courseware, a leading producer of educational software, and ordered the Beginners and Advanced Analogies programs.

For the next 8 months or so we worked on the first Beginners' analogy over and over, “ Hot is to cold- as cold is to ???” You know the answer is HOT, but Nancy just didn't get it. She couldn't put together what it was I was seeking. I was getting discouraged.

One morning we were up in our cabin having breakfast. I was in a terrible mood because I was facing true defeat for perhaps the first time in my life.

"One more time", I thought to myself. "Once more, and if she doesn't get it then, she isn't going to. " “Nancy, tell me. Hot is to cold- as cold is to ???"

She said, "HOT!"

I nearly stopped breathing. I asked her again, “Hot is to cold- as cold is to???” She said, “HOT” again.

I started jumping up and down, running around screaming at the top of my lungs. Nancy started to cry. I was crying, too.

After a few minutes of unimaginable bliss, we settled down. Then, for some strange reason, I asked her, “Nancy, if hot is to cold- as cold is to hot, then short is to tall- as tall is to ???"

She stared at me blankly. She didn't have a clue. And then I realized she didn't understand the concept at all. She had simply memorized the answer, having heard me say it so many times in the months before.

I was totally and utterly crushed. My soul was bleeding to death, and I nearly gave it all up right then and there.

And then I remembered the refrain from a song that has become my guiding beacon. It is from Kenny Roger's "The Gambler." You know the refrain, "...Every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser..."

I threw myself back into the battle with renewed energy and resolve. We worked on that one analogy for another 6 months. Over and over, trying every possible way to phrase it so she could understand.

Finally one morning we were up in our A-frame having breakfast. I was in a terrible mood because I was facing defeat for perhaps the second time in my life.

After more than a year, I thought to myself, "One more time. Once more, and if she doesn't get it then, she isn't going to."

“Nancy, tell me: Hot is to cold- as cold is to ???" She said, "HOT"! "Don't get excited," I warned myself. "Chill out. You've been here before." Very quietly and very gently, I asked, "Nancy, if hot is to cold- as cold is to hot, then short is to tall as tall is to ???”

She said, "Short".

My heart nearly stopped. I asked again, "Short is to tall- as tall is to ???" She said SHORT again.

It was now or never. I tried one she had not heard before. “O.K., tell me, Nancy: ‘Fat is to skinny- as rich is to ???’" She said, "POOR".

SHE FINALLY GOT IT! SHE’S REALLY GOT IT!! Can you imagine what I was feeling?

But no celebration. No whooping and hollering. We got up and went back to the computer. I started the analogies program, and she sailed through the entire disk of Beginning Analogies in less than 30 minutes. Months and months of work. All our hopes riding on one shot, and she came through!


You want to know if miracles are real? You just read of one.

I modified some of the few educational software programs available at the time, and little by little, over the course of the next several years, got her back to where she can function in most areas about as well as any of us, just a little slower. But I don't forget we started by re-learning the alphabet, 1 + 1= 2, and CAT spells cat. And I know why you should never give up hope .

Even now, after so many years, I cry when I read this story.





Have you checked the most important parts of our website? We urge you to go to the Chapter on Essential Plans. Then, whether they apply to you or not, read the Chapters Airlines, Cruises, Hotels, Taxis, Tours. Finally, be sure you read the Chapter Items to Take. The information in these chapters will make all the difference in the success of your trip.