This is a report for Mission 369 by Grace on Wings.
Departure: Greensboro, North Carolina
Arrival: Verona Island, Maine
Date: October 30, 2015
“CORY’S WAY” ??!!
The youngest of 4 brothers, Cory was born and raised in the great state of Maine. At one time his parents owned 18 racing horses as well as a seafood business. Cory has always been very adventurous. He and his brothers participated in every athletic sport imaginable growing up. In high school Cory himself held the title of “state championship wrestler.” So it was no surprise that only 3 years after his high school graduation, Cory joined the United States Navy. He went on to serve 6 years for our country in the “special forces” being deployed 4 times to Iran and Iraq. He traveled the world “Cory’s Way” , and when his tour was finished he settled in North Carolina. It was there that he took a position in finances eventually becoming a district manager for his company where he did very well for both the company and himself. Two of his brothers would also relocate from Maine as well. One to Pennsylvania and another to North Carolina leaving just one remaining in their home state with their parents.
Just 7 short years ago, he and his family began to notice some difficulty with his speech and slurring of his words. It was after some speech therapy and testing that the realization hit that there must be more going on. So it was that at the young age of only 35, Cory was diagnosed with ALS. ( AKA: Lou Gehrig’s disease. This rapidly progressive horrific disease affects the nerve cells that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow, all during which time generally, maintaining full cognition and intelligence with our minds.)
About 6 months after his initial diagnosis Cory asked his mom Carolyn, if she would come to North Carolina for a few weeks to help him. Being a very close family and without hesitation she did just that. Fast forward 6 � years later…and Carolyn is still in North Carolina caring for her youngest son. Cory can no longer move any part of his body and has lost his ability to communicate verbally. His only means of communication now is through the blinking of his eyes and the letter board that his family has created for him.
It was about 2 years ago that Cory expressed his dream to build his mom a new home up in Maine. After much debate and with her insisting that this was not necessary along with the realization that this was not a battle she would win, Carolyn gave in to Cory’s request. “Cory’s Way”
By this time Cory was pretty much bound to a chair and with the help of his brothers so began his process of building a home for his mom in Maine while never leaving North Carolina. Together they would make decisions and pick out flooring, fixtures, stone, appliances etc with him never being able to leave his home.
Just a few short weeks ago, we at Grace on Wings were contacted by Cory’s brother Steve about transporting Cory and their mom back to Maine. Together we began making the necessary arrangements. During this time I had the opportunity to speak with Cory’s home health nurse, Patty and recognized immediately the love she had come to have for this precious family. It was Patty who shared with me the story of the home Cory and his brothers had built. Now the time had come to see the completed work and it is only fitting that they see it together. We arrived at Cory’s North Carolina home and were greeted by Steve with his friendly smile.
Once at Cory’s bedside we could see the tender unconditional love and care this family shared. Steve followed us to the airport and waited until we were all safely aboard Abe before leaving. Our flight was uneventful with exception of Cory needing some suctioning resulting from his inability to swallow. During our flight I teased Carolyn that Cory must be her favorite to which she quickly responded that she loved all of her sons equally. It was however, evident that Cory too agreed with me by the sweet smile that he had on his face. As we flew it suddenly dawned on me that their new address will be “Cory’s Way” . I realized that this was probably no coincidence and so I asked her about it. It was then that she shared how she had been allowed to personally name the road where their new home sits. She said Cory had always been a very determined young man and even as a child it was always ” Cory’s Way.” So, it seemed only fitting that this should be the name for the road with the home he had such an impact in making a reality.
The winds were gusting violently when we landed in Maine, so much so that I needed help just to get my coat on. As I placed one arm inside my sleeve the rest of my coat blew completely around me. Despite the wind, the brilliance in the colors of the trees was magnificent. It was as though they would glow and light up the earth if God decided to remove the sun at that very moment.
Our ambulance crew (who also donated their services to this family) were great. They inform us that our drive to the island would be about 50 minutes. As Cory, Carolyn, Chris and myself rode along in the back I found myself getting so excited for this family. At last we are starting to make our way down the dirt drive that seemed to be about a mile long. It was then that I asked Carolyn if she was beginning to get excited. She responded by saying, ” I did not really think it would affect me quite like this, but now it is finally becoming a reality.” She began to get very emotional and as tears began to spill from her eyes I found myself beginning to cry. Chris too was crying and Cory’s face was beginning to beam. WOW!!…THIS, will be the first time that Cory and Carolyn will see their new home!! THIS, is now a reality and we have the wonderful blessing of witnessing this with them!!!
Oh, wait!!… the ambulance has just backed up and come to a stop……Both of the back doors are swinging open and through all of our tears there stand 20 plus family members and friends, many of them are crying too. With cell phones and cameras in hand they are recording this much anticipated moment in time, savoring it for everything that it is worth. Just beyond them is an absolutely beautiful home. Stretched across the front between 2 pillars is a lovely maroon and gold ribbon and bow neatly tied. As Cory is lifted out of the back of the ambulance his mom is given a pair of scissors to do the ceremonial ” cutting of the ribbon”. Make no mistake although Cory can no longer verbally communicate his face says it all. His smile is radiating and his eyes are beaming with joy for this moment. We ascend the stairs carrying Cory on the stretcher and enter in through a magnificent arched dark wood doorway. The moment was breathtaking.
To be able to share in the tears of joy with this family is indescribable. Once inside we were able to push Cory through the home he had such a part in building, allowing him to at last see the finished product. We carried him back to his new room, with a view of the Atlantic outside his window and placed him into bed. In his face you could see the peace that he now had. Yes he had done it once again… “Cory’s Way !!!”
I have had the great pleasure of speaking with both Carolyn and Steve a few times since this mission. They have assured us that Cory is doing as well as can be expected and Carolyn continues to discover many new things about their new home each and every day. They have expressed such gratitude to our ministry here at Grace on Wings. When I use the word “our” that goes out to each one of you reading this, as you are all such a huge part of this ministry and we deeply thank you for that. In return I assured them, that as much as anyone thinks that we give to others, we receive so much more in return through the joy of spending time with our patients and families than could ever be imagined. They are truly the ones who are doing the giving. It is us who have been blessed beyond measure by them through the grace of God.
YOU TURNED MY WAILING INTO DANCING; YOU REMOVED MY SACKCLOTH AND CLOTHED ME WITH JOY, THAT MY HEART MAY SING YOUR PRAISES AND NOT BE SILENT. LORD MY GOD, I WILL PRAISE YOU FOREVER.
Thank you to Hal, Chet and Chris for the sharing of this mission.