Sometimes it takes a cowboy to bring it all together. Baxter Black is a cowboy poet and a man who appreciates the fact that he is an American. More importantly, Baxter appreciates the sacrifices of the men and women of this country who have given their lives for our freedom.
Sam’s medical status (from Sam’s mother-in-law Julie):
I visited Sam on Friday and witnessed a very inspirational Sam. He was talkative and expressive. Erin said, “Sam—Say the Marine Corp Hymn.” Sam recited:
“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, We will fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea; First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean; We are proud to claim the title of the United States Marines.”
He was proud to say it, as I saw it in his eyes the pride of being a marine. I saw Sam drive the motorized wheel chair and watched him concentrate with such intensity. I saw him do speech therapy where he clearly spoke the words the therapist was looking for. I was so inspired by how hard Sam has to work everyday for several hours a day. I’ve never seen Sam look so well and talk so much.
Sam’s medical status (from Sam’s father Eric):
Good Morning All,
I haven’t had as much fun at a birthday party in years as I did yesterday with Sam…His Mom, Kelley and I had come to celebrate another year in his life and we felt like we were the ones who walked away with the presents. He was alert, participative, and happy. He got to taste the frosting of his cake (Sam’s favorite: Yellow cake with Chocolate frosting) that we had brought for all the staff, the correctional officers that have taken such an interest in his ongoing progress, and fellow patients. I had a picture of him licking his finger after plunging it into a piece of cake, but alas it was blurry…He opened his packages (1st picture) with minimal help from Erin, to get cd’s, mind building games, and t-shirts for physical therapy. He’s is reading with a little help to make out the words. (They seem to have to be at least 2″ high and bold print) Erin has painstakingly made him several reminder sheets for him to read throughout the day. “I am getting better every day”, or “I am at Kentfield Rehab Hospital”…As She composes these and other documents for his “book”, She’ll ask him how to spell words…He is getting faster at his responses and at least a 90% accuracy! Usually it is one letter at a time, but yesterday he spelled Sabrina like “SAB-R-INA…and very fast too. (one of his Physical Therapists)
The last ten days have been incredible to witness. He has taken a huge step forward with his speech ability and cognitive powers. Tony, Sam’s Father-in-law, said it best; “God is really working on Sam right now!” I couldn’t agree more and is just God being God. He is faithful to his promises and delivers mercy where and when he sees fit. As God restores his speech; I’m excited because now Sam can express his faith in his own words. I was talking to him yesterday and reminding him of his eventual and total restoration by God and then told him I believe it and hope you do also. He looked at me and said, “I do!” I have been really interested in the meaning of names lately since I am expecting my first grandchild on Christmas Day. (Marty & Helen have chosen Evan, Sam’s middle name) Samuel means “Called of God” and Evan short for Evangelos means “to bring the good news”. So if you put them together it means “Called of God to bring the good news”…Nichols is from Nicklaus which means “Victorious People”. (See the 2nd pic for Sam’s Victory Salute)….Anyway, he is doing great! He and Erin have cute names for each other just as most couples do. Sam hasn’t used those in over a year, but started again a few days ago. Erin will say, “Sammy Bear” and he’ll respond with “Ernie Bird”. It is just precious. When Erin walks in the room she’ll say “Marco” to a resounding “Polo”. She came in one day and he told her she is “A once in a lifetime wife”. Of course she said, “I’d better be”. Ha! He seems to like saying wife because as Erin arrived one day, he said; “I’m just waiting for my wife”.
He was in the gym yesterday with his Occupational Therapist, and she was impressed by his endurance…4 sets of reps on the cables. As she took him back to his room, she noticed something that I hadn’t before. She said that whenever Sam is wheeled by the Correctional Officers, (This hospital treats inmates from a prison right down the road) they all stand as he passes. She said they don’t do that for anyone else. Some are Marines formerly on active duty, but ALL support Sam and Erin. When Erin went to Denver recently, one of the guys came to me to see if he could take up a collection for Erin. How sweet is that? He has been blessed with many therapists and staff that see to his needs as if he were family. They all seem to care about his comfort. One of his nurses (a gentleman) is from the Philippines and when he found out Sam had been there in charge of a squad to help them recover from some horrendous mudslides, he made a friend for life.
Sam had a small episode yesterday and while kind of scary when happening, just continues to reassure me of God’s sovereignty. He became very sleepy and just drifted off into a deep sleep in just a matter of minutes. He began to have some rather noticeable jerks in his left side mainly. It was right when he was scheduled for an afternoon session of Physical Therapy. They couldn’t wake him and they do that by running their knuckles up and down his breast bone. I’d wake up swinging. Ha! They went to get the doctor on call (not his own) and she was perplexed. She thought it was a focal seizure but if the left side of his brain was seizing; (what happened 4 weeks ago) then the jerks would be on his right side. Erin wasn’t alarmed and neither was I, but we can’t say the same for the staff. I started to pray and about 35 minutes into this nap, he coughed and woke up like nothing had happened. I immediately thought that the Holy Spirit was quickening him for another advancement. Well, Happy Birthday Sam from God…Other than that he has no new medical challenges. He is being fitted for a new test device that delivers electrical impulses to his left arm that may lend aid to it’s movement. Think, six million dollar man…
As I sit here and prepare this update I am reminded of something very cute I’d like to share about Sam and Erin. Erin told me this while Donny and I spent a few days with them in Oceanside before his second deployment to Iraq. They have had squabbles and quarrels just like any other young and loving couple. One time while they were having just such a spat, Sam came with a glass of Nestlé’s Quik and asked if she wanted to talk. Ever since then, this chocolate drink has been a peace offering between the two and the beverage of choice for make-up. If the world could only take a clue…
Hot off the presses from Erin via text message this morning: Sam just sat for 3 minutes balancing on his own.