At the gala Mr. Bob Bell shared an emotional caregiver story with the crowd and our new mission came to life in a big way. Bob told how his wife, Linda suffered a stroke and how he has been slowly working to find a new “normal” for their lives. It’s a powerful testimony to love and loyalty that reminds us all why we need to move expeditiously to reopen with new purpose and meaning to serve families like theirs. We invite you to read Bob’s testimony here:

Bob’s Story
Good evening. My name is Bob Bell and I am honored to have the opportunity to share
my story with you tonight.

In June, my wife Linda and I will celebrate 57 years of marriage. She was 19 and I was
21 when we got married. We began our life together in NE Ohio and moved to Georgia
in1977. We have two wonderful children that are now grown and thriving.

For many years Linda was a stay at home mom and served as the heartbeat of our family.
When our children became more independent she decided to pursue a college education
and at the age of 40 proudly graduated with a degree in commercial insurance and
underwriting. From there she launched a successful career with Wassau Insurance. I
enjoyed a long career myself with AT&T as a computer programmer and IT Manager.
Through the years we both worked hard to build our retirement nest egg. Finally in 1998
I turned in my name tag and in 2000 Linda followed. We were thrilled to begin our
“golden years” together.

We embraced retirement with open arms and began to travel. Our journeys took us to the
National Parks, Alaska, Australia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, London, Scotland,
and many trips to Ohio to visit grandchildren. We loved spending time with friends,
trying new restaurants and serving together at our church. We even became master
gardeners and visited botanical gardens across the Southeast. It was a marvelous 16
years.

Unfortunately, on August 16, 2016 at 11:45 pm it all came to a halt.

We were sitting in bed talking and Linda stopped, grabbed her head and said she had a
terrible headache. I quickly got up to get her some medicine and when I returned she was
slumped over in the bed. I could tell by the look in her eyes something was very wrong. I
quickly dialed 911 and in less than an hour a CT scan that confirmed a burst vessel.
Unfortunately Linda was not a candidate for tPA.

Linda went from intensive care, to acute rehab, and after several months was finally able
to return home. Unfortunately Linda had reached a plateau in her recovery and the reality
set in that we were facing a new “reality.” Linda is wheelchair bound, immobile on her
left side. She is incontinent and experiences some sight deficiencies. She has an
extremely short attention span, lack of impulse control and no inhibition, and is not able
to follow directions. Caring for her as an unskilled caregiver proved to be one of the most
difficult things I’ve ever done.

We tried home healthcare services at first, but they proved very unreliable. And then we
heard from a friend of a personal caregiver looking for work. She proved to be a perfect
fit – for now.

Then my daughter made a huge sacrifice by moving in and doing all the cooking. She has
been a godsend.

Life is very different now. I get up in the morning and leave Linda in bed while I shower,
shave and dress. Then her caregiver comes in to dress her for the day. I prepare her
breakfast and make sure she gets her medicine. I then go out for coffee, run errands and
take an occasional hike. I’m back home for lunch and take care of things around the
house. Linda and I sit together in the late afternoon and after dinner she retires early to
bed.

We have gone from a very active, productive life to one of great simplicity. Attempted
conversations are now met with blank looks and jumbled words. There are no more
nights out with friends, and travel is out of the question. Linda only leaves the house now
to go to and from the doctor. Our world went from being so big, to so small in the blink
of an eye.

One thing I’ve done in recent months is join a support group for caregivers of brain injury
survivors. It has helped me greatly to learn that I am not alone in this journey. It has
helped me so much to talk about my walk with others and to share resources. It was there
that I learned about Peachtree Christian Health and the vision for your new Life
Enrichment Center.

Honestly, I had not thought, until now, that life could be any different for Linda and me. I
thought that we had found our new normal and was trying to hard to make peace with the
picture of our life ahead. But now you have shown me a new vision and a new hope. Your
new center has the potential to enrich both of our lives.

I can see a time in the near future where Linda will have reason to get out of bed and
have a place to go where where she will be welcome and accepted. Where she can be
around others that will meet her where she is and love her for who she is. Where she can
get her hair and nails done again. Where she might be able to experience an adapted
garden that she can enjoy. Where she can once again be around a body of Christ, people
of faith, that will remind her she is a treasured child of God.

Peachtree Christian Health can offer her positive stimulation, socialization, and physical
strengthening that I can’t provide her at home. I believe you will help to draw her out,
make her healthier, and significantly improve her quality of life – and mine.
57 years ago I vowed to Linda that I would love and care for her in sickness and in
health. I want to keep her at home with me for as long as I can.

I implore you all to press on expeditiously with your new mission, as I am just one of
thousands in our community struggling to care for their loved ones in our community.
There are so many caregivers out there praying specifically for the services you are
bringing online. Many are at their wits end and have no idea how they are going to face
the future ahead. You are going to be a blessing to so many.

Thank you all for your commitment to and passion for your new mission. I can’t wait to
see your new Life Enrichment Center open it’s doors next year. Know Linda and I are
eagerly waiting.