By Mike Williscraft
There are tough days at the office, and there are TOUGH days at the office. Sunday night was one of the TOUGH ones.
While it was comfortable sitting on Richard Dunda’s couch, the subject matter was the tough part.
I’ve known Richard for many years, mainly from his time served as president of Grimsby Minor Hockey. While a volunteer post, that gig comes with a significant amount of pressure even on the best of days.
He has always been a cool customer, a consumate professional.
All that goes out the window when one speaks of the ill health of one’s child, in this instance, Richard eldest son Riley, who suffered a stroke at the family’s Main Street East home about two weeks ago.
Life can be tough.
Bad things happen to good people. The twists and turn’s of life’s path knows no rules.
Richard and his family’s approach to Riley’s illness really is the best for all involved, namely, you can still get to where life’s path intends you to go. You will just take a decidedly more difficult route to get there.
Head down, shoulder to the grindstone, you keep on pushing ahead.
Your choice? Quit.
Not an option, especially for a talented, 18-year-old young man.
In the brief time since the injury, much has happened which proved to be on the most optimistic side of the ledger.
Movement where it should be, memory coming back, feeling where there had been none, strength still apparent, speech coming back –– while still somewhat limited, all are there whereas from the start none of that would materialize.
I’ve had my Dad die of a stroke. I’ve had a doctor tell me he thought my newborn son had a brain tumour and they needed to do a CT scan right away. Combining those two, I think I have a pretty good idea of some of the sentiment which was rolling around in Richard’s mind as we talked.
And we covered a heck of a lot of ground that night, which I greatly appreciated as we planned our meeting for when Richard returned home after being at Hamilton General all day.
To really simplify things, the family is optimistic and Riley’s progress has given them reason to be. The simple goal is for his condition to improve so he can get in the rehab ward and he can get to work.
Clearly, the boy does not have a work ethic issue. As Richard shook his head explaining the workout regimen Riley has put himself through just since January to compete for a university scholarship, he just gave a knowing nod, “the boy’s in great shape.”
As Richard noted in the story, Riley is on a different path and while the twists and turns of that path are not known, what is known is that I would not want to be a roadblock in the young man’s way.
I am 100 per cent confident I speak for the entire community when I send best wishes to Riley and whole family.
The name they chose for a facebook page –– fightrileyfight –– could not be more appropriate.
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There is no joy in Mudville today.
Good people were let go by my competition, one who worked in the trenches with me for 15 years, on Tuesday. Torstar has to pay its bills, I guess.
Katherine Nadeau, er, Grant as some may know her since she recently changed back to her maiden name, was the glue that kept me together there for years.
If what I hear is true and the most excellent Scott Rosts now has the reins, I wish him the best of luck! He is a superior human being.