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Job Well Done - A Love Story
July 20, 2013 is a special day in the history of our bridge club. It is the day that Don MacIlraith would return to play with his beloved wife Joy and capture first place after his stroke in the fall of 2011. The pair turned in a 60% game. Sedona Bridge Center players celebrated with champagne this day that none of us ever expected just 18 months ago. This is Joy and Don's love story.
In October, 2011, Don suffered a stroke. While recovering in Verde Valley Hospital he began to incur difficulties in digesting food. He would eat small amounts, then he could not digest the food and would reject the food. The doctors found obstructions in his bowels and would perform surgeries to remove the obstruction.
Joy was Don's "patient advocate". She was the one who fought for his life. She was not satisfied with the doctors plan and she called daily meetings with the staff and fought for proper care. Two months and six surgeries later, Don weighed slightly over 95 pounds and still could not retain food. He had been placed in hospice care, when Joy called a family meeting with son Steve and daughter Jill. Joy had found a new doctor and decided to have one more surgery. It worked. The doctor found a twisted intestine and once cleared, Don was able to eat again.
The story did not end here. Don was on the road to physical recovery but he had to recover his mental capabilities. He had been a successful businessman in his life - (you can read his biography at our Northern Arizona Website - www. bridgeinnorthernarizona.com). Northern Arizona Unit 355 had decided to award Don and Joy for their loyal service. "The Honors Award" (which would soon be renamed the "Don MacIlraith Award") was given to 88 year old Don MacIlraith in March 2012 at the Sedona Sectional.
I remember interviewing Don at Kachina rehab center when preparing his biography. Don & Joy lived in Cincinnati in the 50's. So happened I lived there from 1964 until 1994 also. When talking to Don, he could tell me street names and all about Cincinnati. He was quite confused about anything that occurred in the past 10 years and mostly the past 2 hours.
Don left Kachina in a wheel chair. It was evident that he would need a lot of help in his recovery. It was Joy and daughter Jill who made this happen. Joy would work with "Mac" on his motor skills and try to play cards with him. Jill would take him to hit golf balls among other things. Most of us were quite certain Don would never play again.
Don started to attend games at the club several months ago. We invited him to become a mentor at our Saturday morning novice class. He would play with our novices as Joy watched.
Last Friday, a player double booked. Sheila did not have a partner and was going to go home. Sonya Webber begged Joy to let Don play with Sheila. Joy had a lot of reservations but finally gave in. Don and Sheila had a great day finishing in 5th place. Joy and Don played last Saturday and finished in 6th place. Joy immediately booked Don for today's game - July 20.
Joy and Don had a 67% game at the end of 6 rounds. He had to play Robb and Linda Gordon, then Pete Stedman and Alice Martin. Sheila Hoffmeyer and Bonne Pace were in tough pursuit. Robb recalled how Don expertly played a 3 NT allowing Don to make the hand. Although he narrowly defeated Sheila (his prior partner who only needs less than 1 point to make 200 points), Sheila said "That's ok".
Riding home, I recalled the days when Darryl and I started playing bridge. I recalled a day when we came in first place. Don called us at home and said, "Job Well Done"! Well, that 's what we are saying today to both Don and Joy - "Job Well Done!"
Last updated : 4th Aug 2013 17:46 CDT
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