A DAY OF SAILING

This is the story of a Miracle Moment that took place on Canyon Lake Yacht Club for Shannon, a resident of Ledgestone Senior Living. Julie Retersdorf, Activity Director of Ledgestone Independent Living shares about this special day for Shannon. “I came to know Shannon by greeting him mornings in the dining room at breakfast time. He always has a nice smile and a sweet greeting. It was not long before I learned through conversations with him and Debra Maddox that he was an avid sailor most of his life. Shannon was a very successful businessman as a younger man and grew to have great means and a wealthy lifestyle. He lost his first wife and later fell on hard times. During his downtime, he bought a sailboat and lived on it for five years. He sailed around the world several times, through the Panama Canal, to the Pacific Islands and Indonesia. He traded in boats in different countries until he ended up with “the boat of his life” a 60 ft Hans Christian. His physical health and the wishes of his last wife surrendered him from his sailing lifestyle. He has not been on a boat since. Shannon’s present physical limitations confine him to a wheelchair. He recently had spine surgery and has physical therapy to help regain some leg strength. He has great hopes of walking again. I talked to several yacht clubs about the possibility of getting him, with his physical limitations, on to a sailboat again, before talking to the Canyon Lake Yacht Club. I had several conversations with the Commodore about the possibilities. After a little time, he called me back and said he found a retired doctor who would like to volunteer his time, and his boat, to get him out on the lake again, saying “once a sailor, always a sailor”. After the logistics of the sailing outing were set up, I told him about it and the look on his face was indescribable. He fought back tears and had a big smile and just said, “I would like that very much”.

Debra and I took him, on his wheelchair, down the docks, and to the boat. There were two men who owned the boat standing ready to help. Shannon just said” I’ve got this,” stood upheld onto the boat and swung his leg over the side. His leg became stuck a little bit and one of the men gently helped him, all the while with patient encouragement. Once on the boat, he sat right in and it wasn’t long before he took the wheel. The three “sailors” were all in stride sailing the boat despite the lack of exciting winds. We sailed around the lake and heard many stories for a bit more than two hours. The look on his face, once back in his wheelchair was indescribable. There were hugs and thank you’s all around as we said goodbye. We stopped at a little Mexican restaurant in town for lunch on our way home and he treated Debra and me. Later he, in tears, said that he could not remember the last time he treated ladies to a meal. And then he smiled and wiped away a tear. I heard that later that day he was seen working out in the gym. We had been joking about needing a nap! The next day when I saw him, he looked different, his clothes were different, he was wearing shorts and his boat shoes and had a big smile on his face. When I talked to him, he admitted that he referred to his life before Ledgestone as when he was alive, and with this day feels alive again.

He went on to describe how surprised he was that we chose him to do something special for. He told me that he does not have many friends, and prefers to just be alone. He told me that he purposely chooses to not attend any activities. It was then that I told him how many residents came to me saying how excited they were for Shannon to have this opportunity because they have heard so many of his stories and because he is a great guy. Shannon humbly asked “Really? I had no idea anyone cared about me”. I mentioned that now that he knows he has friends maybe he can come to our activities and continue to share his stories, and hear theirs. Later that day, I was so thrilled to see Shannon at our Happy Hour enjoying a glass of wine and some appetizers, and later sitting outside with a group of folks chatting. I think Shannon does feel Alive again thanks to this Miracle Moment!”