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Gary DeVaul Writings

August 2003  |  September 2003
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January 2004

Wednesday, August 6, 2003 11:13 PM CDT

On Sunday, August 3, Mark was involved in a serious car accident in New England. His injuries were so severe that he lost 50 percent of his blood supply. Due to the extent of injury to his left arm, it had to be amputated at the shoulder.

Today, the third day post accident, Mark is in good spirits and has begun the difficult process of dealing with the situation. He is not alone, he has friends with him at the hospital. At this point, it is expected that he will be in the hospital for at least a week before returning to Southern California.

Due to the amount of calls coming in, the phone in his room has been disconnected so he can rest and heal. Please do not hesitate to post messages in the guestbook, or take advantage of an email greeting page on the hospital's website - Follow the link to 'Patient & Visitor Resources' and then "Patient Greetings'.

Friday, August 8, 2003 0:54 AM CDT

The following is information sent out over the past few days, previous to the establishment of this website. In it you will find more definitive information about the accident and Mark's progress to date.

Mark was driving back from a performance in Worcester, MA on Sunday when the accident took place. The weather was horrible; he missed his exit, went 13 miles to the next, but in the storm did not see well and lost control of the car. It is believed that he hit something, an embankment, railing, light post, what for sure we do not know. The car ended up in the ditch. It did not roll, as some have heard, nor did he bounce around inside – he had his seatbelt on – it was still fastened when the car came to a stop! By God's grace, a driver behind him witnessed the accident and immediately contacted emergency help. Mark was not airlifted, as some believe, as the storm did not permit it. He was rushed by ambulance, some 40 minutes, to Maine Medical Center in Portland. His arm was shattered and separated in numerous places and at all of the joint points. There were 4 surgeons who saw him when he was admitted at the hospital who all agreed that the arm needed to be removed so they could save his life. Mark was in and out of consciousness and literally bleeding to death from the arm socket, which was basically wide open.

To make this yet more challenging, the very same night of Mark’s accident, his father slipped and broke his hip at their home in Stockton. Earlier this year Mark had moved his parents into an Assisted Living home there. That was difficult because his parents really did not want to make that move. This is the second time his father has fallen, this one causing much more damage. His father also has a heart problem.

Mark’s father went into surgery on Tuesday night to repair the broken hip. The surgery went smoothly and was successful and Papa Thallander is on the mend. He has not been told about Mark’s accident yet, since it is obvious that would be too much stress for him at this time. Mark’s mom knows and is handling things as best she can although her son and her husband both have very serious injuries and are hospitalized. She needs all the prayers and good wishes you can offer up for her. She is in good health but also in her mid eighties, so this is quite a challenging time. Even Mark’s brother Wayne is having difficulty with all of the tragedy that has so suddenly befallen the family.

Already by Tuesday Mark was showing evidence that his sense of humor was not lost in the accident. The doctors asked him if he wanted to see the initial photos of his arm, and he said "not now, but I would like them for my Christmas letter". Typical Mark.

By Wednesday, his physical condition continued to improve. There were bumpy times along the way with an upset stomach. He also was beginning to feel more pain due to the reduction of morphine. He started eating on his own and was actually walking to the bathroom. He was taken off the catheter and the only remaining attachment is an intravenous drip. He was visited by an Assemblies of God minister and is beginning to receive counseling. The doctors are continually monitoring his progress.

Emotionally he is in good spirits but for the first time wrestled with the grief of the situation. We know that this will continue for a good while and even intensify as he attempts to get back to a normal routine over the next few months. He has friends there and one of them actually slept in his room last night, since he had a restless night the night before.

As of Thursday, Mark continues to improve as some challenges begin. Yesterday was the day they started to take him off of intravenous painkillers and started going to oral. This increases the length of time he experiences pain before getting relief since the medication is taken at specific intervals. He also is being 'forced’ to walk and sit as opposed to lying in the bed. This is for his circulation issues, which will also help the healing process. He is a bit fearful of this process which is extremely necessary

He continues to have blood transfusions since his red cell count is low. This is expected so not out of the ordinary and no cause for alarm.

When Mark leaves the hospital, please send cards to the following address:

Mark Thallander c/o
Gary DeVaul
P.O.B. 1964
Ogunquit, ME 03907

For those that do not know, Saturday is Mark’s birthday!

Friday, August 8, 2003 1:39 AM CDT

Dear friends and family members,

My name is Jeremy McElroy and I have been with Mark in Portland, Maine since Monday afternoon. Many of you know me or have spoken to me on the phone this week. I would like to bring you all up to date on the most recent happenings of Mark. Today is Thursday, 07 August and the time is about 7:30pm.

Today was a day of significant improvement for Mark. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for Mark to move from this facility to the next step in his rehabilitation process. One of those is pain management through oral means alone. Last night was Mark's first night without intravenous pain medication. It was not a very happy moment when Mark asked for his "pain button" to push and the nurse said, "Well, it's time to take that away." He was offered his first dose of pills instead. While the IV can offer quick relief, it also provides only very short term relief. Often Mark would need to push the button again in just 10-15 minutes. The pills, however, offer long term relief of about 3-5 hours. However, it can take up to 30 minutes for them to kick in. Despite this rather big change he did have a pretty good night's sleep last night.

He has eaten about half of his three meals today. He took his first walk down the hall and back this morning and then took a walk around the floor later in the afternoon to view his flowers (some of you may not realize that Mark is allergic to some flowers. Some can stay in the room but the rest go to other patients and the nurses stations). He walks with assistance, of course, but thankfully with a bit of spunk and energy that we haven't seen much of thus far. And now as I look to my right, here comes the man of the hour himself, taking his evening walk with the nurse while singing God Save the Queen! Typical MT fashion, eh? And no, that is not the medication singing!

We know that many of you would like to know the next step for Mark. So would he. Initially, Mark's rehabilitation treatment will be here in Portland, ME at an in-patient facility. Mark's move from the hospital to there should happen very soon. Once he is stabilized with oral pain management, self sufficiency with food and drink, and can walk around with some but little assistance, he will meet the criteria to leave. Some think that tommorrow, Friday, could be the day. We will just have to wait to see how he feels. More likely, the move will take place this weekend. The steps taken after that are still very unknown, but it is safe to say that Mark will probably not be returning to California for a bit more time. It is Mark's desire to transition from in-patient rehab treatment to out-patient rehab treatment and then upon reaching a comfortable status, fly back to California and finish the treatment there. However, it is very important that we all realize that even though this is his desire, it may pan out a bit differently. The timeline could be quick. The timeline could be lengthy. Nobody knows. We must be patient, supportive, and encouraging to Mark in whatever decisions he makes about his treatment.

Today was a good day for Mark. Specific prayer requests were answered about the pain medication, the walking, and the simple things like going to the bathroom. Please continue to pray for his pain. It can change very quickly and often take Mark by surprise. Please pray for his transition to the next step and that God's guidance would be clear to Mark regarding the best course of action. Please pray for his parents and his brother in Stockton, CA. There are some earlier posts that provide more detail.

Marks sends his true thanks to each of you who have sent emails through the website of the hospital. Please continue to do so. We will let you know through this posting when he will not be here anymore. To date I think he has received nearly 250 emails, cards, faxes, and flowers. He
appreciates each and every one of them, and they are all read by Mark, his friend Gary, or myself.

We would like to have an update for you at least once a day on this website. Please check back often. Also, many of you have offered your help and assistance. For now, please rest assured that the logistical needs are being attended to by Mark's friends here and in California. The best way to assist is to participate in the newly established Mark A. Thallander Trust Fund. Please see the link on this site for more details.

Again, thank you from Mark to each of you for such a tremendous outpouring of love and support. It is so crucial right now.

Until tomorrow,

Jeremy McElroy

Saturday, August 9, 2003 0:52 AM CDT

Dear friends and family!

Today is Friday, August 8 at 9:45pm. I am writing again from the Maine Medical Center and tonight we are honored to have the man of the month (forget just the hour as I wrote yesterday!) sitting here beside me as I type. Say hello, Mark. "Hello," he says.

Today was another very good day for Mark. It was several steps forward, a couple steps backwards, and then a few more steps forward. He is eating more of his meals and has quite a healthy appetite now. He even ate his broccoli during dinner, which we regard as yet another miracle this week! Many of you know how much he doesn't care for vegetables. Several trips down the hallway took place today. He is also going to the bathroom on his own and even strolled around the room unassisted for a bit to admire his plants that have been given to him from some of you. Our evening was spent watching some TV and sharing a hamburger and a coke, 2 of Mark's favorite foods. And chocolate ice cream, of course. He has even convinced the nurses that chocolate ice cream would be so helpful in his mending process, that they have placed some in the freezer here with his own name labeled on so no one can take them!

The plastic surgeon was in this morning to examine Mark and reported that he was very pleased with how his shoulder is healing. While we thought there was a chance he might be able to leave today, the doctor said that Monday is a more realistic expectation. He will leave here and move to a nearby in-patient rehabilitation treatment center. As more details of that location and his doctor become available, we will be sure to pass them on to you. We would also like to emphasize again that a timeline for his rehabilitation treatment simply cannot even be estimated. Each person is unique and different from the next, so looking at the average time it has taken other patients in similar situations is simply not an option. Please continue to support Mark, as he makes this transition to the next step, by praying for God's guidance. He wishes he knew something more concrete about how long it will take. We all do. But it is something that can only be determined one day at a time.

His 2 steps backward today were actually quite significant. Remember that one of the criteria for him to leave this hospital is to be able to manage his pain through oral means. That is why 2 days ago most of the IV medication was replaced by pills. They have proven to be quite effective. Today, however, he got a little behind the curve with his medication. While there were a few factors that contributed to this, two in particular were a bit frustrating. The first was the pharmacy's delay in delivering some of his medications by about an hour. The second was a strange malfunction of a little machine that delivers one of the few remaining IV pain medications. It stopped working, yet failed to sound its "malfunction" alarm. As time passed, the pain increased. Mark was trying to move in bed and some pressure was applied to a certain area of his shoulder. The pain was "excruciatingly unbearable," to use his own words. He said that he had never before experienced anything remotely close to it. He was very grateful to each of you for your prayers at that very moment, approximately 12:15pm EDT, or 9:15am PDT. Through the many emails, cards, faxes, and flowers Mark could see each of you praying for him. He is so very grateful.

I would like to emphasize that despite this brief episode today, Mark's care at the Maine Medical Center has been absolutely top notch. The nurses are very competent as well as kind. The doctors come by each day to speak with Mark and examine him. Aside from today's delay, his medication always arrives on time and in the proper dosages. The food from the cafeteria is even tolerable. To both of us!

I know so many of you wish Mark was closer. Please know that he is not alone. In addition to myself, several of his friends in the area have been able to spend some time with him here. His long time friend Gary Devaul (who will be taking Mark's mail starting Monday; see the address at the bottom of the homepage) spends the better part of each day here. He has also enjoyed some visits from several hospital Chaplains, an Assemblies of God minister, a United Church of Christ pastor, as well as both the Rector and Organist from the Cathedral of St. Luke's (Episcopal) here in Portland. Mark thanks God for sending so much Christian love to him while 3,000 miles away from home.

Thanks again to each of you and your families for supporting Mark in so many ways. His gratitude and appreciation for your friendships is evident to all of us here. Please continue to pray for Mark's father who remains in the hospital in Stockton, CA, as well as his mother and brother who are caring for him. Please continue to pray for Mark's pain management and his steady increase in energy and appetite. Remember also to send a Happy Birthday greeting to him for Saturday, August 9. Mark will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of his 39th birthday!

I will be leaving Portland Saturday afternoon. Through Gary here and some friends in Southern California, information will continue to be updated each day. Please check back often and pass this website address to anyone who may be interested.


Sunday, August 10, 2003 1:26 AM CDT

Dear Friends & Family,

This is just a brief update on Saturday, Aug 9 at 12:45pm EDT. As you are all aware, Mark's birthday is today. We are so happy to report that we threw a very successful bash for him in his room! About 10 friends from the area surrounded Mark with love, gifts, and cake. He is doing so well right now. His energy is up and he is walking around, already calling the shots! What a delight to see him nearly back to his old self.

Last night was also very good for him. He kept me up until 2am! Much time was spent here on the computer reading your greetings to him from the guestbook. He is so excited that so many of you are taking the time to share your love with him. Soon, he should be back on here to read the many, many birthday greetings awaiting him. Thank you all so much!

After the computer, he felt it neccesary to go on another walk... at 1:45am. We took the elevator to the ground floor so he could walk to the cafeteria and grab a microwave popcorn from the vending machine. And I was not allowed to go to bed until we had done so! Despite staying up late, I cannot tell you how great it has been to see him spring back up so much in the last day.

Look for another update tonight. Remember that our goal for discharge from this hospital is Monday, Aug 11. Although this will need to be assessed day to day, the doctors feel that it is very likely that Monday will be the day.

Thanks again for all your support of Mark. It means SO much to him. He sends his love to each you. Soon, he should be able to start writing these updates on his own.


PS - Mark's rehabilitation process will be taking place in Brighton Hospital starting on Monday. Due to the amount of false stories circulating, Mark wanted it made clear that he DID have his seatbelts on but for some reason the airbags did NOT deploy. We encourage everyone to go back and read previous journal entries for the precise details of the accident. Thank you!

Monday, August 11, 2003 11:33 AM CDT

The following update is from friend John West...

Sunday was a day of new and challenging moments. The first challenge was it was the first day when friend Jeremy was not there. Jeremy had been at Mark's bedside since Monday evening including having a cot set up in the room so Mark would not be alone at night. Jeremy needed to get back to Pittsburgh and his own livelihood, but will be missed greatly by Mark.

Also yesterday Mark's father was removed from the machines that had been supporting his recovery and he passed away. Though not unexpected and in every way he has gone to "receive his crown" [as Mark put it], as you all know this is still a loss of significance. His mom and Wayne were there and will be having a grave side service this week. A more enhanced memorial service will take place later after Mark returns - that time to be decided in the future.

Mark has requested that we focus our prayers on the phantom pain feelings he is having. Everything will be normal and then he will suddenly get a jolt of pain that seemingly emanates from a certain part of his missing limb.

While I was speaking with him his nurse was in the room. Mark was navigating the computer and showing the nurse where I played while Mark made his usual quip comments filled with humor. It was a pleasure to hear him joke in the midst of his hard day.

Mark has had the good fortune of having visitors on a regular but not overwhelming basis. He has truly been encouraged and empowered by their presence. Some of the guests he has had include visitors from Crystal Cathedral who live in Maine now; members of Menlo Park who live in the area for the summer; visitors from St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland and a professor from Vanguard University in the area who's daughter Mark taught as a piano student.

This information was received 8:30 EST, Sunday August 10

Monday, August 11, 2003 4:07 PM CDT

Monday 1:00 PST - 4:00 EST

Long and lovely conversation with Mark. He is really sounding like his old self and we had many hearty laughs. In a nutshell:

Many people have requested the opportunity to contact Mark's mom. Here is her address.

Mae Thallander
Rio Las Palmas
877 East March Lane #256
Stockton CA 95207

The service for Mark's dad will take place. Wednesday August 13, 10:00 A.M. at:

Cherokee Memorial Park Cemetery
13832 N Cherokee Lane
Lodi, CA 95240
Phone:? (209) 944-9898

Lodi is North of Stockton. All who would like are welcome to attend and I know of at least one person who is planning to travel from Southern California to attend the service.

Mark is literally reveling in the bounty of mail that he has received today. Since there was no mail delivery on Sunday he was accorded a vast amount of envelopes, emails and packages; so many that he is still working his way through them all this late in the afternoon. Truly he is delighted and in his own words "It's really fabulous"!With "nowhere to go" it is truly the sunshine, wind and fresh air to his body and soul.

His regimen so far today has consisted of breakfast, prayer and communion with a priest from St. Luke's, lunch, visit from friends and the decision on what he would like for dinner. I do not think he is bored and was told that they moved the computer INTO his room. Talk about preferential treatment! :-) But he is looking forward to getting away from the "bed I have known and loved" which should happen tomorrow.

As Jeremy has stated over and over again, the exact timing of things is in continual flux and constant change. He was supposed to move to Brighton Medical Center for rehab today, but that will not happen until tomorrow. A change of scenery he is looking forward to.
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Wilfred Lasse Emmanuel Thallander
January 9, 1912 - August 10, 2003

Wilfred Lasse Emmanuel Thallander, 91, died on Sunday, August 10, 2003 in Dameron Hospital while recovering from hip surgery on Tuesday. Born on January 9, 1912 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, "Willie" moved to Pittsburg, California in 1952, to Fargo, North Dakota in 1954, and to Stockton in 1956. In North Dakota, he graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks in 1930.

Willie married Mae Branvold in 1938.

He worked Sweet Clover Creamery and then at the United States Postal Service in 1940. He was in the Army from1942-46. Following his tour of duty, he returned to work at the Post Office.

He transferred to Stockton in 1956 and worked there until he retired in 1983. After retiring he worked as a substitute custodian for Lincoln Unified School District. He was also a volunteer at the food bank, assisting with food distribution to the less fortunate.

Willie held a variety of leadership positions including: Sunday School Superintendent, Grand Forks Assembly of God; Sunday School Teacher, Calvary Tabernacle, Stockton; Vice President, Stockton Postal Credit Union; Secretary of the Board, Lincoln Neighborhood Church, Stockton. He is survived by his wife of 64 years Mae Thallander of Stockton, sons Mark Thallander of Pasadena and Wayne Thallander of Manteca, nieces Marilyn Miller and Karen Berko both of Longview, Washington. A graveside service will be held at Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2003 7:23 PM CDT

Mark has been transferred. He is now at:

New England Rehabilitation Hospital
335 Brighton Avenue, Room 212B
Portland Maine 04102

He had breakfast and lunch at the Maine Medical Center and then transferred in the afternoon to his current location. His projected time stay is 7 days. Before he left they took the drain tubes out and changed his dressing which was then changed again when he arrived at The Rehab Hospital.

The biggest news of the day is, with the help of a physical therapist who guided him through concentrated meditation, Mark was able to actually 'move' the missing arm. Throughout this last week he has been dealing with the physical memory of the arm on his stomach and chest and his fist clenched tightly. He said it took about three and a half hours to accomplish but he eventually was able to move the missing limb from his torso down to his side and unclench the fist. Not only did this relieve him emotionally, he said that it has been a powerful source of the pain. The mind remembers what the body has discarded and this was a GREAT step towards his healing.

Before leaving MMC he had the opportunity to get outside and experience a beautiful Maine night and a walk on one of the building's courtyards. A nurse wheeled him out in a wheelchair where he spent time in the fresh evening air…a first in eight days. Today's transition was smooth and uneventful and allowed him to experience the out of doors a bit more.

Mark has wonderful words for the nurses and doctors at MMC. He felt their attention, concern and care was not only efficient but also unique. He could not have asked for a more supportive environment to be placed. At least 3 of the nurses from there are scheduled to visit him at the rehab hospital.

He is going into a more aggressive and focused physical therapy now. Having learned how to cut his own meat, open a carton of milk and get the straw in, he is now working on strengthening muscles. Today he climbed one flight of stairs with the railing and a second flight without. He then went down with the same regimen – one with and one without railing. At one point they had him balance on one leg, the goal being one minute. Although he did not reach that goal, he is on his way to it.

So he continues great and steady progress and his spirits are very good.

One final offering for today. The care givers at MMC were very conscious that when Mark came in, there was a good chance he would not survive and were quite impressed by the severity of the accident and the amount of blood he had lost. They said that they really don't know where he got the strength to get through this incident alone, but compounded with the sudden death of his dad they were in awe at how he was handling things. Mark said, "I don't know either", except that he is drawing his strength from the prayers, love and support of so many from around the country and different parts of the world. We do know that God is the primary source, but without his many tangible and physical hands of friends, family and loved ones, this miracle would not be having such a wonderful ending. Keep the prayers coming; keep the cards coming; keep the love coming. These elements are his life's blood right now that will result in a total and complete recuperation.

Thursday, August 14, 2003 0:02 AM CDT

It's been a FULLLLLL day-

"Breakfast is served!" was the morning call and it was MORE than sufficient; 1 orange juice, 2 cartons of milk, potatoes, scrambled eggs, 2 pieces of French toast, 2 pieces of bacon, cream of wheat AND a banana. Following that feast [which was "delicious"] the Occupational Therapist put Mark through some focused exercises. One of those exercises was creating and decorating a bulletin board. On one side of the bulletin board are pictures of the car that was in the accident; on another side are cards that he has received and in the middle is a picture of Merrill Auditorium where the Kotzschmar Series is held. (no, I don't know what or who a Kotzschmar is either. I do know that the divine Joyce Jones will be playing there next week and she is going to stop in and see Mr. Man herself) The exercise is part of the continuing effort to get Mark to the point where he can function on his own with everyday activities; that is what an Occupational Therapist does.

As the morning progressed he had more visitors. First one from St. Luke's Cathedral and then another who is a board member of the Kotzschmar series. There was much conversation and sharing all the way into and through lunch which consisted of pasta and beef tips, or something of the sort. Then came his time to spend via phone with the funeral of his father.

A cellular phone was used as the conduit and it rested on the pastor's podium. Prior to and after the service Mark did have the opportunity to speak with his mom, which was essential and meaningful for both. The hour long memorial service itself was held in the chapel and opened with a 20 minute prelude from Mark's CD. The officiating pastor, Rev. Eugene Kraft, [a long time friend of the family and a request of his dad] then read from the book of Revelations. This was followed by the Eulogy and Nadine Breneman singing 'How Great Thou Art'. There were some particularly special moments when letters and thoughts were expressed from the nieces and cousins of Wilfred Lasse Emmanuel Thallander and family. Another moment included an organ tribute of Mark's music which was a medley of 'Our Great Savior', 'Fairest Lord Jesus' and ' All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name'. As the congregates were leaving to walk to the grave side burial service they went out to 'Toccata on Joyful, Joyful' recorded by Mark at the Crystal Cathedral.

The meaningful burial at the graveside was short and highlighted by two members of the Armed Services removing the flag off of the coffin and handing it to Mae Thallander. Then all those in attendance of the celebration of Wilfred's life, sang the 'Lord's Prayer' a capella. As brother Wayne put it, "It was an uplifting celebratory event" which was exactly what the family wanted. I asked Mark how his feelings were with this significant moment and he said with all the phone calls prior, emails and obvious extra effort on behalf of so many he felt "as connected as anyone possibly could". He was very grateful, touched and moved.

This surely would have been enough for any of us, but Mark's day was only half over.

His next hour plus was involved with the Physical Therapist. This consisted of him learning how to get in and out of a normal bed [not hospital bed] without anyone assisting. Also walking outside over bumps and cracks in the pavement, stair climbing and doing all this while maintaining his balance. He also is having elastic bands put in his tennis shoes so he does not have to deal with tying them. Learning how to cut meat, and the basics of everyday things we take for granted, are now his new markers. And, as usual, he tackles these new 'opportunities' earnestly and with gusto.

After this session Gary arrived with 54 cards, notes and letters!! The timing was good because this is also part of his therapy - learning how to open mail on his own. They both were having a wonderful time when the next guests arrived - the organist and his wife from St. Lukes Episcopal Church. So after a few words and not wanting to stay too sedentary, Mark became a tour guide and took them around to see the facility. After loving time had been spent Gary and Mark started to tackle the cards again but now he was beginning to feel the drain of the day and it was time for dinner anyway. After dinner Mark headed to the library where he finally had the opportunity to go online. Access had been down for the day and he was eager to read all the new messages that were sent him. When I told him there were well in excess of 6000 hits to his site in only 6 days, he could not help but be impressed...neither could I for that matter!!

Tomorrow begins with him and the Occupational Therapist at an 8:00 A.M. cooking class learning how to prepare breakfast. More on that later!

Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:30 PM CDT

Mark's day began this morning at 6:30 with a basin of warm water being brought to him and towels so he could bathe. He is now in the process of really learning how to handle his regular daily affairs without any help. Following that he got up, shaved, brush his teeth, took his morning pills and in time to arrive at the kitchen by 7:45. It was now time for cooking class...well, preparation class. The first thing was learning how to cut a bagel and toast it. Then came the challenge of opening a jar of peanut butter and applying it to the toasted bread. This was no small feat since they made sure that the cap was overly tight, which we all have dealt with. He made many attempts, on the counter, against the wall and finally he got into a corner and by pressing his body against the wall he was able to get enough leverage to open it. Then once he got it open the thick peanut butter was not only at the very bottom, but there was very little of it. This made for another major effort in relinquishing the food from the jar with a knife; all the while the occupational therapist offered no help in the process! Whew, I'm tired just writing about it. After peeling a banana, opening a carton of milk and another of orange juice [all on his own], he finally was able to 'enjoy' his breakfast.

At 10:30 he met with the physical therapist and they went to the 'gym'. Not a gym in your normal sense but a room for physical therapy that consists of mats, light weights, exercise machines, balls, tension filled rubber bands, and the like. Here is where he goes through the process of strengthening his muscles by stretching, doing crunches, lunges, lifting light weights and a myriad of unusual but highly focused exercises.

After this he met with a new therapist - a recreational therapist (I did not even know there was such a thing). This individual helps to get a person adjusted, with their changed body, to activities they might have enjoyed prior their change. Tennis, bowling, baseball, golfing and any other myriad of sports activity. Mark did not have too much to offer in this regard so their conversation had no specific results except to note there is a Newport Beach recreational Program he could have access to. I may take him up on it!

Lunch he did not have to prepare and consisted of a ham sandwich, navy bean soup and milk.

At 1:00 the occupational therapist came back and did some analyzing of his neck and upper back muscles. He then did some chiropractic and massage work on that part of the body and up to the arm socket. This Mark really enjoyed as many of you might imagine, since he thoroughly enjoys going to the chiropractor here in Southern California.

At 2:00 he again met with the physical therapist for 1/2 hour and they worked on some old exercises and started some new ones. Since this IS a rehabilitation facility, their goal is to get him operational as quickly as possible, so hardly any time is wasted.

His next 'class' was called Ambulatory Small Group, where he met with 2 other people in his similar situation and 2 instructors. This was a class focused on learning how to navigate and rescue situations. They worked on picking up different items that had fallen, learned how to get around different objects, and maintain balance in the process, without the body part they had always used to adjust their actions.

After his 'Ambulatory Small Group Ministry' [his words not mine] he again met with the physical therapist for a half hour. Gary then arrived with another 39 cards and postal units. He also received a plant from the Shepherd's Community Church in Canoga Park. After escorting Gary to the cafeteria for a quick bite, they got a few of them open and then it was time for dinner and he was ready for a break. His final meal of the day was a turkey dinner with all the fixin's and trimmings.

His guest calls today included his good friend and bedside partner Jeremy McElroy and Tom & Darlene from Springfield Missouri. Also Joyce Jones, Fred Swann, and John Weaver all performers of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ Summer 2003 Concert Series called (for you organists and aficionados of said instrument, here is the web site -

So it's off to sleepy land for the guy after either some ice cream or a popsicle....and he wonders why he weighs about 4 pounds more. :-)

Tomorrow morning - learning how to navigate in a cafeteria with a loaded tray. YIKES!!

A word on chocolate ice cream therapy...

Mark had chocolate ice cream after physical therapy, after occupational therapy, with dinner, after the second "reading of the cards" and just prior to bed. His last words of the evening "Measure by measure, life is a treasure". I guess chocolate really DOES have healing power!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2003 1:27 AM CDT

August 15, 2003

Days are taking on a certain similarity now. As with the last two, he starts the day with physical and occupational therapy after breakfast and that takes up most of the morning regimen. His new experience in the cafeteria for breakfast went smoothly. He gathered up his silverware and napkins and learned to put the heavier items on the tray closer to his chest. This morning's meal consisted of cheese, scrambled eggs, cranberry juice and milk (there must be something he did not include). He navigated his way through the aisles and between the tables, and picked a spot. There was another individual at the table and Mark met someone new and made a friend.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church is becoming a real beacon of Christian charity. Today he had six people visit, some of whom he did not know. The organist and his wife again came to visit as well and to take Mark on a walk outside. They walked passed some 'stunning New England homes' and went around the entire perimeter of the hospital. Mark also had his first 'mixed drink' today – Milk of Magnesia and prune juice…. warmed. Yea, that's exactly what I thought [and said out loud] but Mark said it actually tasted pretty good. I do not think it will be on my list of 'New Things to Try' though. Another visitor of the day was Pastor Dave Clark from the Ogunquit Baptist Church where Mark and Jeremy had played.

He did not mention much about dinner but he did talk about the power of Christian memory in regards to Scripture, Text and Song. As he was sitting in the stillness and quiet of the hospital garden today, the words of a hymn arranged by Don Fontana came to mind.

In the stillness of this moment, come to me, come to me;
Let me listen to your wisdom flowing free, flowing free.
In Your nearness speak to me Lord, of Your will and of Your way,
So that glory, power and honor will be Yours in all I do and say.
In all I do and say."

August 16, 2003

The mornings are now becoming habitual with breakfast and therapy – occupational and physical. As Mark mentioned to me yesterday, they are staying aggressive about his rehabilitation. When he leaves on Tuesday they want him to be as prepared in dealing with the world as he can be. He did mention today something not spoken of prior. He has regularly been getting shots in the stomach to prevent blood clots and this happened again mid morning between the physical and occupational therapies. Gary also arrived with 60 more postal units from the mailbox. Again a need for a couple of long, and meaningful, reading sessions in which to revel in the love of friends and family.

After lunch Eric Knapp arrived. Eric is the Conductor in Residence at Carnegie Hall and whom Mark played Beethoven's Mass with on June 8. Because of the East Coast blackout, Eric arrived about 6 hours later than planned but in enough time to share quality time with Mark. He will return Sunday before he leaves to go back to New York. Around 4:00 Ron Hanby and Gary arrived from Kennebunkport to hang out with Mark and they went to dinner at the Lone Star Restaurant. This was his first meal outside of the 'compound' and his first time in a car since the accident. Mark had one of his absolute favorite combinations – steak and potatoes. He also had Texas chili so we feel a little sorry for his roommate tonight.

After returning to the facility Mark was tired but exhilarated with the field trip. Michael Ross, who was Mark's Certified Nurse's Assistant at Maine Medical, came by to do some massage-type physical therapy. Mark had another breakthrough. As Michael was massaging Mark's hand, he could feel his non-existent left hand responding. There has still been phantom feelings, including the curled, tense and painful third and fifth finger of the left hand. Michael worked on these spots on Mark's right hand and Mark was able to visualize and feel the relief going into his non-existent digits. This energy relief took a lot of tension out of Mark, some of which he did not know was still there. [An aside - I am learning there are a lot of invisible layers that come to light over time when a negative, impacting event of this magnitude has transpired. Layers that must be pulled away in the course of true healing or they hold a person back.]

However the prominent news of the day is that Mark had his first shower since Sunday August 3, at 9:00 tonight. The nurse had to prepare the wound with plastic covering but he was actually able to drench his body in clean water for the first time in 2 weeks! He was very ready and wonderfully prepared to go to bed after a wonderfully positive, but exhausting day.

Sunday, August 17, 2003 11:26 PM CDT

After arising this morning and having breakfast, Mark writes to us what he does in his own words-

"I listened to Hour of Power during my physical therapy [8:30 - 9:00]...testimony and solo It is Well With My Soul -- Jennifer Rothschild, I believe .. very powerful...last exercise ended perfectly at the final Amen of Lutkin's The Lord Bless You and Keep You then I got dressed all by myself with the exception of my tie...Robert Lee (on the board of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ Summer 2003 Concert Series came and picked me up for the 10am service at The Cathedral of St. Paul. This is the congregation that has so generously cared for me. The priest-in-charge, The Rev. Martha Ann Englert, was the priest who came by the hospital and served me Communion after I heard about the death of my father. The organist, Albert Melton, played a magnificent service. He and his wife had lunch with me in the hospital cafeteria after the service, along with randy mullin and dan daniels.

Then I had both occupational and physical therapy this I'm on the computer gaining more strength from the wonderful people that i know and don't know...who leave me uplifting messages."

This is the information Mark sent me via email and I wanted you to sense his 'mind talk' as it were. When I called this evening, he filled in more info.

During his occupational therapy session, he had a jarring moment when the pain suddenly returned in force. He even said it was worse than the actual accident and absolutely excruciating. He mentioned this to the nurse so a note could be made to tell the doctor, should stronger medication be needed. He also says that the phantom pain is returning and he needs powerful prayer for it's quick easement.

The service was a real blessing to him which ended with Joyful, Joyful. as the closing hymn. He then went to lunch with Randy and Dan, and Albert and Cynthia Melton, who brought him back to the hospital. Gary brought Eric Knapp by on his way back to New York in the afternoon. His evening meal consisted of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, carrots and a tossed salad with pears for desert. Not wanting to stop his taste bud therapy though, he also had chocolate ice cream.

At 8:30 this evening he had a wonderful visit from Joyce Jones, professor of Organ at Baylor University in Waco Texas. Not only did she bring her homemade plum jelly, but she also brought a past student of hers Richard Benefield. He is now Deputy Director of the Harvard University Art Museum and also Keeper of the D.A. Flentrop Organ in Adolphus Busch Hall at Harvard. Joyce said she took a picture of Mark with her new digital camera and sometime towards the end of the week we hope to get it on the web site. Mark is looking forward to hearing Joyce play her concert on Tuesday evening on the Kotzschmar Concert Series.

Our last words were communicated at 10:00 EST - he was tired and ready for bed.

Monday, August 18, 2003 8:09 PM CDT

"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Each of you."

Mark continues his expression of gratitude and indebtedness to all of you, his faithful, prayerful supporters. This is Jeremy, again, and I bring you greetings from lovely Rochester, NY. I will be traveling this week and providing updates from the road. Technology is fascinating, don't you think? Because of the technological advancements of our society, in which God so graciously allows us to live, we can share in the journey of our dear friend Mark together. Let's not forget to thank the Lord for this.

In Rochester, this evening, I spoke with Mark on my cell phone, who of course is in Portland, ME. Wirelessly, of course. My little computer, which is only the size of a hardback children's book, allows me to type a message summarizing our phone call. I can then send it to our friend Alicia in Pasadena, CA, 3 time zones and a few thousand miles away. She, in turn, edits it and sends it to CaringBridge, which has its server somewhere in Minnesota, allowing each of you to simultaneously read it whilst being a hemisphere away in some cases! Have you taken a look at the guestbook lately? It is so wonderful to see the many, many people and places that Mark's life has touched. At last glance, the hit counter on the front page of the website registered over ten THOUSAND hits in the only 12 days that this has been up and running.

Before we move into the day's events, we need to take a moment and thank God for another very special individual who has done so much to help Mark, as well as each of us. John West has been steadfast in his commitment to bring us the latest information on Mark's journey. The phone conversation is the easy part. The sorting out of notes and generating them into an understandable email is what takes time. John has given of his time every day. And because of that, we can feel like we are there with Mark much more so than if we didn't have that information. John has brought to each of us the specific needs of Mark and has provided guidance for how to pray for him more effectively. This week, John will be leaving for vacation and I will take over the updates for this website. When you pray today, please thank God for John and his willingness to give so much of himself to his dear friend Mark. Each of us has benefited greatly because of him.

Another person who deserves to be lifted up to the Lord today in gratitude, is Alicia Steinhaus. Her daily, tireless efforts, combined with John's are what allow us to see the information about Mark each day. It was Alicia's initiative and past life experiences that brought the idea of this website to our attention. Please thank God for her steady commitment to helping Mark and to using her gifts for all our benefit.

Mark said that today was another progressive day in his treatment. As we all know by now, they keep him on a tight schedule. The day is usually quite full with so many activities, each geared for specific parts of his rehabilitation. As you may recall, yesterday Mark experienced a significant bout of shoulder pain. The therapists and doctors are aware of it and today's physical therapy was spent trying to determine why. Please pray for Mark's shoulder pain specifically and that the doctors can isolate the cause and free him of it. There was still pain today, but not like yesterday's episode. Please continue to pray for phantom pain as well. The other day as I was speaking to Mark, his phantom fingers "straightened out" for the first time. Usually, they are clenched into a fist. Mark said it was such a relief to "feel" that. Phantom pain is very real. It is actual pain and can be very difficult. Sometimes his hand hurts, other times not.

Mark is enjoying meeting with his small group in the hospital. A refreshing walk outdoors today was both relaxing and enjoyable. During occupational therapy, Mark spent some time on an exercise bike as well as time doing his crunches. He has to work off that chocolate ice cream somehow!

During lunchtime today, he was visited by the organist of St. Anne's Church (Episcopal) in Kennebunkport and his wife. I had the privilege of visiting this church with Mark in early July. It is made from stone and situated right on the water. The organ is accessed by a small, stone spiral staircase in the back. Two very interesting things about this church are that it is only in use during the warmer months of the year and during this time, former president George Bush and his family attend frequently. God is still continuing to expand Mark's network of fellow church musicians indeed.

Other visitors today included some members of St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland as well as friends Gary and Ron. Gary came bearing many things today, including a video of the funeral service for Mark's father and 106 greeting cards that Gary has received in the mail for Mark. Mark is very glad to have received both. Of the 106 cards (where is he going to PUT them?) one was of particular notice. The members of Lake Avenue Church sent a card measuring 2 feet by 3 feet. FEET! And inside were about 4 pages filled with greetings. He said he is still overwhelmed, every day, at how many people care about him and love him. He would like to make sure each of you know that he is thankful for your time and your prayers. Birthday cards, sympathy cards, get well cards, website greetings, phone calls, faxes, emails and visits. Thank you so very much.

Another highlight of today was a phone call Mark received from his mother. She seems to be doing very well. Let's remember to pray for her today, too, as she adjusts to the significant changes to her life.

Tuesday is slated to be a big day. Mark will be released from the hospital at noon, however he is not released from his rehabilitation therapy. The is still uncertainty about where his outpatient treatment will be. That decision seems to be in the hands of his insurance carrier. Please pray for those making that decision. Mark says that he feels like air travel is still quite a ways down the road. Even a small outing for dinner with friends can be both wonderfully therapeutic yet frustratingly draining. A highlight of tomorrow will be the organ concert in the evening played by Mark's friend, Joyce Jones, which he is very much looking forward to.

Thanks again to each of you for supporting Mark so faithfully. He thanks God for you every day. Please remember to pray for his needs every day as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003 7:40 PM CDT

Hello everyone,

Today is Tuesday, August 19, 2003, the day Mark is finally released from in-patient care. After 15 days, a half month, he will be able to sleep away from the hospital and enjoy the comforts of a home; comforts that each of us can often take for granted. After some morning "routines" of meals and therapy, his day continued to be full. This evening, he will be attending the concert of his friend Joyce Jones in Portland. Afterwards, a 40 minute drive south to Gary's home in Ogunquit, Maine. I flew from Philadelphia to Bangor, Maine this afternoon and I was very excited to see both Ogunquit and Portland from the clear sky. The weather this evening is absolutely perfect and rivals even the best moments in Southern California! (Don't worry; Mark is STILL a Californian through and through). I know that his first day out will prove to be very therapeutic. We spoke this afternoon and he sounded so very peppy and excited. He was enjoying some time with friends before heading out for dinner (a hamburger was to be his choice for tonight, of course!) and then to the concert. He said the craziest part of today was the hour and half sojourn around Portland in pursuit of his medications. It took at least three separate places to stock him up! I know he was so happy to be able to focus on his energies on some recreation and relaxation today too, a much deserved break from the relentless path of adjustment he is embarked upon.

One nagging question that all of us have, including Mark, is "What next?" While he does have an appointment with his doctor here for next Monday, it is still very frustrating to not know the plan for the rest of his rehabilitation treatment. The insurance carrier has still not reached a decision. Mark's desire is to continue out-patient treatment here for a bit longer before making the difficult trip home. Please continue to pray for this significant decision and that the Lord would provide the best possible treatment for Mark's recovery, wherever that may be.

One very encouraging part of our phone conversation today was the absence of a discussion about pain. The joy that I heard in his voice today was so good. The support and prayers of so many, many people continue to be actualized in the life of our friend. Please continue to lift Mark up in prayer and specifically pray for pain management.

Thursday, August 21, 2003 5:16 PM CDT

August 20, 2003

Today was Mark's first full day out of the hospital and he indulged himself completely - maybe a little TOO completely. He slept in and arose at 10:45; the longest time and opportunity he has had to sleep. Following a shower; Mark, Gary and John [who is visiting for a day and a half] went to Amore Breakfast for a wonderful meal of fancy French toast with berries, whipped cream and REAL, maple syrup. It was delicious. Following that full bodied meal they took an hour's walk along Marginal Way [often singing at the top of their lungs] which ended up in a lovely cove called Perkins Cove. It was beautiful but it was also hot - about 91 degrees. It was time to stop for refreshment and that refreshment was chocolate and vanilla soft ice cream swirl. This was the first time I had the opportunity to watch Mark savor the pleasure of the cold desert and it was absolutely a delight to watch him enjoy it.

After that we came home and took a few minutes to recuperate. Then it was off to the downtown area of Ogunquit where we indulged in the afternoon sunshine as well as a walk through in and out of the quaint shops. From there we took a little excursion down the Coast of Rt. 1, stopping at scenic areas along the way and ending up in Portsmouth where Mark had the opportunity to FINALLY get his glasses fixed. They had been damaged in the auto accident and had been causing problems. On the way back we took a side trip to actually see the place where the accident happened. It was a sobering moment to see the place where this tragedy took place. As we approached Mark's missing hand started to have a phantom reaction and tense up. John and Gary got out of the car and walked around the site. Although no exact conclusions could be made it was a defining moment in understanding what possibly happened the evening of August 3rd.

Following that we came back to the house and got ready for dinner. After reading his email salutations, Mark took a long nap and Gary got the dinner started. It was a great meal of steak, potatoes and Caesar salad. Ron Hanby came by for dinner and Mark's great massage therapist came over and gave him a much needed massage. By then it was time for bed.

Mark learned today that he can have therapy here in Maine at York Hospital which he will do for the next 2 weeks. This is great news since he can have more opportunity to heal prior to getting on the plane and returning to Los Angeles, which looks like it will take place sometime after the 5th of September.

Today Mark had a fair amount of recurring pain in the collarbone which was fractured in the accident. Keep your prayers coming that this will heal quickly.

His spirits are excellent and it really is a marvel to see how well he is on the road to recovery. We pray God's continuing blessing over the next 2 weeks in this wonderful stress free environment.

Saturday, August 23, 2003 1:59 AM CDT

Hello all,

Thank you again for being so faithful to Mark and coming to this website day in and day out. Your support of him is so precious. He knows it and experiences that support first hand through so many tangible ways. Let's begin with the plants! Many of you sent flowers to Mark while he was in the hospital. You may recall that he is allergic to many types of flowers, so we always brought the arrangement into his room for him to see. If he felt they wouldn't bother him, they stayed. If not, then he enjoyed them for a brief time and them sent them to the nurses. That entire floor was adorned with so many beautiful arrangements! Many of them, however, found their way into other patients' rooms. What a treat and a ministry to those in need to have a simple vase of beauty by their bedside. We will never know how many people in that hospital ALSO received the encouragement from those of you who sent flowers. In addition to flowers, many many small plants were received. Mark wants you to know that they are thriving in the perfect late summer weather of southern Maine. Gary's porch and patio are quite beautiful and Mark continues to be encouraged by just looking out the window or up from his chair and seeing the aesthetic love from so many of you. We were able to photograph most of the flowers and plants as they came into the hospital as they were held by Mark, Gary, myself, many nurses, and a handful of others. We will try to get those pictures on here for you to enjoy very soon.

Mark is very excited about the next step of his rehabilitation treatment. He will go to the York Hospital in York, Maine where he is with a very talented Physical Therapist. His appointments are for 3 times a week for the next 2 weeks. He also has an appointment in Portland this coming Monday to have the staples in his shoulder looked at and hopefully removed. I saw the shoulder during my week with Mark and I must say that I was amazed. It looks so good. We need to be very grateful that God allowed such a fine plastic surgeon to care for him.

As we have mentioned before there are a myriad of cards that Mark has received. He counts over 600 now. During both hospital stays, Mark had most of his cards read to him by one of us. Now, he has been able to go back and read them for himself. He has spent the last two days reading each and every one. He has a huge basket full of all the cards that you have sent. It is another valuable and effective tool of encouragement for him.

One other fun sight is the host of butlers he has at his feet. Of course, they don't actually do anything. They don't fetch a glass of water or prepare an Epsom salt soak for his feet. They don't even look up when he calls (which I hope he doesn't do much of!). No, the butlers are a group of 10 stuffed monkeys! If any of you know Julian Revie, you will understand the humor of this fun-loving, smiling Canadian. Julian serves as the Organist for Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA. He is fortunate to have a friend who is also in Ogunquit this summer. Together, the two of them arranged the gift of the ten little butlers! Mark was very instrumental in Julian being introduced to Lake Ave Church. One source of entertainment for all is Gary's Springer Spaniel, Casey. He wasn't so thrilled about the monkeys.

Mark does spend a lot of his time indoors. Resting and gaining strength is still something not to be underestimated. His medication for both shoulder and phantom pain is nearly the same dosage as it was when he left the FIRST hospital. So pain is still a serious issue. Is it manageable? Nearly all of the time. There are brief episodes when it overcomes him, but thankfully, they are in short duration and while almost a daily occurrence, they are quite infrequent. Please do not forget that his need for prayer in this area is still quite high. During those times, the cards off to his left, the plants to his right, the monkeys sitting idly in front of him, and the words of uplifting care in his mind from each of you are so vital to his comfort and well-being. Please know that you continue to be an instrument of healing in the hands of the Lord.

On Thursday, Mark wished farewell to our friend John West. John was able to spend about a day and a half in Maine before continuing on to Europe. They had a very enjoyable time relaxing, catching up, and running around doing errands. The best part of the trip was that it was a surprise! Mark was so pleased that his friend had gone so far out of his way to see him. One of the outdoor activities that Mark enjoyed during John's visit was a stroll to the Ogunquit Art Fair. They partook of some pizza and the obligatory, chocolate ice cream healing stuff! The evening included a terrific dinner cooked by chef Gary and great conversation amongst friends. Dessert was a batch of chocolate chip cookies sent from Mark's cousin Joyce in CA.

One decision that Mark has had to make is regarding his teaching position at Glendale College for the upcoming Fall term. He is very disappointed that he will not be able to teach this Fall. He was scheduled to teach 2 sections of class (group) piano lessons. Mark has always enjoyed teaching and looks forward to returning to the teaching arena very soon, hopefully for the Spring term.

One very significant activity of today was Mark watching the video of his father's funeral. The house was quiet and empty and Mark had the time to himself. It was important that he be able to do this, especially now that he is feeling more energetic and can focus his mind better. He spoke with his mother afterwards who said she has received many, many cards of support and encouragement as well. She is very appreciative to each of you who have kept her and Mark's brother Wayne in your prayers over the past couple weeks.

That's all for now everyone. Look forward to another update this weekend. Please remember to pray for Mark's pain management, both his shoulder and phantom pain. Please thank God that he has experienced such improvement. Thank Him for the massive support base that is so important to Mark's recovery. Thank the Lord for the finely skilled doctors who have cared for Mark during the past two weeks. Please begin to pray for those that will oversee Mark's recovery in California and for those of you that will help him as he adjusts to his new life at home.

Monday, August 25, 2003 1:41 AM CDT

Greetings friends,

It is Sunday evening and many of us here in the Eastern time zone are basking in the blessings of a terrific weekend! Mark's reasons are numerous and we would like to share them with you.

Prayer indeed works! Mark's pain continues to improve every day. His energy stores are increasing. His spirit is strong. His humor ever so intact. His gratefulness for your support is continually reaching new heights. I know it sounds like a CD track on repeat, but let me assure you, this litany of thanks from him to you and from him to God is real, genuine, ceaseless, and profound. He talks about it all the time. And he wants you to know it.

He received from someone a daily calendar containing a passage of scripture. Today's verse is, "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me." (Psalm 54:4) Another source of encouragement has been from Dr. George Wood. He has written many articles, three of which have stood out to Mark: "When Life's Not Fair," "Connecting the Dots," and "the Thorn of Grace." This morning, Mark was also delighted to worship at the Ogunquit Baptist Church. We both played a recital there in early July, featuring traditional literature as well as a celebration of hymns for organ, piano, and an assortment of duets amongst the two instruments. The congregants were very touched that evening. It has been no surprise, then, that they have followed closely the developments of our friend. Mark said this morning was very emotional for all, but very good indeed. The service music today included "Great is Thy Faithfulness" as the opening hymn and concluded with "Jesus is All the World to Me," in honor of Mark. How moving it was indeed. Mark kept thinking that God's word for him today was very clear. Between the early morning verse at his bedside, the writings of his friends, and the focus of the service, Mark knew that the Lord wanted him to know that He is the one who sustains us, who rules us, who loves us, and who directs the path of our life. As Gary quotes in his devotional (which can be read on the front page of the website) "God is the Ruler yet!"

One major area of concern that all of us have had is that regarding the future of Mark's music making and worship leading. We are delighted to let you know that at least 2 pieces of music for Mark are already being composed. His dear friend Joyce Jones, who played in Portland last week, is working on a piece to be called, "Fanfare of Hope," specifically for 1 right hand and 2 feet. To motivate Mark and prepare him for it, Joyce has provided a mentor organist: a one armed doll!

Mark is just so happy about it. It even has an organist's robe that hangs down more in the back than in the front so as not to disturb the pedaling! Another friend is Charles Callahan, avid composer and arranger of organ literature. Several pieces that Mark and I have played were arranged by him. One his areas of specialty is writing for organ duo, or as Mark entitled our June, noon day recital at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, "Two Organists, One Bench!" Dr. Callahan sent Mark a card recently and in it, told of his new piece for the two of us to play for 3 hands, 4 feet. Open your calendars, all ye church music ministers, for the Mark Thallander and Friends organ tour train should be steaming into your town soon!

And speaking of steaming, how many of you did laundry this weekend? Fairly mundane, routine, and usually boring, right? Next time, take your left hand and put it in your pocket. Then begin. Upstairs, 2 stories from the washer and dryer. Put the clothes in the basket, carry them down to the basement (for you west coasters, that is the area underneath the house!) find a place to put the basket, open the washer, find the detergent, open the bottle, pour some into the cup, pour it into the washer, close the bottle, load the clothes, assuring they are not wadded up, start the machine and off you go. Then dry them. Then fold some and hang some. Still got your hand in your pocket? Good. Now take them upstairs and put them away. Today was laundry day number one for Mark. And he did it all on his own. Annoying? Frustrating? It can be. But doable? Absolutely. This is but one of many, many daily tasks that none of us really think about. Yet for Mark, it requires a whole new training program. He said it went just fine today. But remember, even the small, simple things need to be prayed for as well.

Tomorrow is a busy day. Mark travels to Portland for a visit with his doctor. His shoulder will be examined and if all is ready, the staples will be removed. The evening is another Physical Therapy session in York. Dinnertime is to be a treat indeed! Three dear friends, all of whom attended Central Bible College in Springfield, MO will be joining Mark for dinner: Sandy Ford, Judy Casso DiGiandomenico, and Judy Hanlon. They will be dining at Joe Allen, a prestigious restaurant with notable locale: London, New York City, Beverly Hills, and Ogunquit, ME!

Thank you again, everyone. Please know that you are loved and cherished by our friend in need.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 0:23 AM CDT

Hello friends,

I am writing you from Bangor, Maine again. Seems to be a weekly tradition for me.

Let me begin by making a correction to the previous update. Mark was delighted to share with you 2 pieces being written in honor of him, by Joyce Jones and Charles Callahan. I mistakenly affixed the wrong title to Joyce's piece. Her piece is yet unnamed. The piece by Dr. Callahan is "Fanfare of Hope." Woops...

You may recall yesterday that Mark was looking forward to a visit with 3 close friends. I guess they tore up the town! They had a terrific dinner last night, enjoyed Godiva chocolate and other goodies from Judy Hanlon's church, homemade chocolate chip cookies from Judy Casso and some wishing stones from Sandy for life's little wishes! Mark was also given a book called, "God Always Has a Plan B." This morning they had breakfast at our favorite place in Ogunquit: Amore Breakfast. At the end of the meal, a great surprise was awaiting them. Free food! Kevin Cartwright, a friend of Mark's who now works at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA, knew of his love for this restaurant. So he called last week and talked with the owner, arranging the meal for the next time Mark and whomever was with him walked in!

After breakfast they took a walk on this very nice pathway along the shore and overlooking the water called the Marginal Way. The weather continued giving California some stiff competition and was absolutely perfect. The Marginal Way leads to Perkins Cove, a charming area of shops, galleries, and of course, chocolate ice cream! Ah, it's healing at its finest, isn't it? Prayer, chocolate, prayer, chocolate! Another treat from Perkins Cove was seeing the organist from the Ogunquit Baptist Church.

Yesterday's visit to the doctor in Portland was very good. The doctor removed all of the staples from Mark's shoulder and said that the skin is healing up very nicely. On their way to the office, Mark saw someone on the street corner who looked very familiar. He inquired and was pleasantly surprised to recognize him from the Grace Community Church in Panorama City. Mark has frequently played there as a substitute organist. As he was leaving the office, yet another person said hello to Mark. It was Julie Dowling, the wife of the minister of music from Ogunquit Baptist Church! She works for one of the surgeons who was at Mark's side the night of the accident. Small world indeed.

Owing to the excitement of constantly running into people when least expecting it, as well as the off chance that there might have been a chocolate overdose (!) Mark spent the afternoon napping and reading. He bid farewell to his friends and spent some time with "Trusting God (Strength and Encouragement for Troubled Times), edited by George Wood, Hal Donaldson and Ken Horn.

That's all for this edition of Mark's Musings. Keep praying, even for the simple routine things. Thanks!


Friday, August 29, 2003 6:35 PM CDT

Greetings everyone,

This is Jeremy, writing to you from 33,000 feet! No, I'm not flying the plane. I am merely riding home to Pittsburgh from my very short visit with the Maestro himself, Mark A. Thallander! It was too short, an "almost-day" as I like to refer to it.

Mark enjoyed dinner out on Tuesday night at a local restaurant. A fabulous parmesan crusted halibut was his choice for evening. Fish!?!? you may be wondering? Indeed, yes. Our hamburger-terian friend seems to enjoy it now more than before. He even had some again last night. While Tuesday was a great day with many cards and online greetings, over half of it (13 hours!) was spent asleep. Mark is really trying to lessen the narcotic pain medication he has to take so that he doesn't feel so loopy all the time. Even last night while driving up to Kennebunkport to have dinner at a friend's home, Mark snoozed. And while we were there. And on the way home. Then, straight to bed.

Wednesday was also a day of great things for Mark. In addition to more cards and phone calls, he completed another one of our daily, routine, hardly ever think about it tasks: he showered and washed his hair, unassisted. Now, you all have another adventure to try: shower with your right hand only! And dry off... With a towel, not a hair dryer. I bet it will take you twice as long. Then do more laundry!

One item of excitement that arrived Wednesday was a container of cookies from baker extraordinaire, Heather Dixon, wife of organist Ross Dixon, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Mark has stayed with the Dixon family the last few summers while participating in the RCCO. This past summer, he enjoyed teaching a class on blended worship, utilizing a video of many examples from churches all over the United States.

Wednesday evening was another beautiful time in Maine. Gary fixed a wonderful meal of BBQ steak & chicken, salad, corn on the cob and asparagus. Besides Mark, Gary's son Grant and his wife Virginia, with some of their friends, from Boston enjoyed the evening together. Then, a relaxing movie on TV. Of course, Mark wants you all to know that most of his time is spent either resting/sleeping, or reading cards and greetings online. He spends a few hours each day answering emails and reading this website. Please know how much each message means to him. Gary has even had to scold him and send him to bed because he is glued to the computer so late at night!

Some other important visitors recently were the King family from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. They brought with them something just fantastic: a Swedish cutting board designed for one-armed people! I saw it myself and it is slick. There is an area of spike-like things where one can place potato, apple, meat, or anything that you want to cut. The spikes stick into the item and it can be cut without having to hold it in place. There is also an apparatus where you can place a knife for a different type of slicing and the food won't slip away while cutting. Mark is so excited about it. Who knew such ingenious things were out there? One of their friends, Andrew Bohrmann, sent with them 6 pages of music listings of pieces written for right hand only! Mark even said to me last night that he looked at some of our duets and he felt that we could still play most of them without having to change too much around.

Some new friends that you have heard of before also stopped by, all from St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland. Dan, Cynthia, Randy, and Albert the organist all enjoyed lemonade with Mark on the porch before his physical therapy in York. They also took advantage of the beautiful weather to shop and walk in Ogunquit, Perkins Cove, and the Marginal Way that connects the two.

This morning, Mark and I breakfasted at our favorite place, Amore Breakfast. I was very grateful to a friend of mine who was able to drive me from Portland to Ogunquit yesterday. He is another pilot who lives in the area. Mark also enjoyed seeing him again and sharing together about the life of an amputee. My friend's father lost his arm many years ago and Mark was quite captivated hearing the uplifting stories about him. It was very encouraging. While waiting for breakfast (45 minutes!) we walked part of the Marginal Way along the beach and savored the stunning views and perfect temperatures while catching up. The rest of the day was to include a possible haircut followed by physical therapy this evening in York.

Mark and I took care of some other details as well. A couple bills were paid, more laundry was done, the monkeys were instructed to shape up and help out more! We also were able to extract Mark's contact lenses from their case. The case didn't do so well in the accident, but the hard, expensive lenses that he needs fared finely. Next, Mark needs to learn how to put them in with one hand. He is a little unsure of that one. Today, Friday has another first in it as well: a trip to the beach!

Here's what we can pray for. Continued pain management, but with less and less medication. This will be a slow process, but Mark is eager. Remember the little, everyday tasks that we take for granted. Those can be frequently frustrating. More energy. Thanks for such a wonderful and continuing outpouring of love. It is still so very essential. Thanks for less pain than last week, a specific answer to our prayers. Pray for preparations regarding his return to California and adjusting to his new life there.

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