Monthly Archives: July 2021

Hoover the Talking Seal: An Account of Stroke Rehabilitation from the Patients Point of View


I’ve written here and there about my friend Jeremy. I just calculated (for an Amazon review of his book) that we’ve been friends for 47 years. We met when his British grammar school and my high school participated in an exchange. Students from Benton Park Grammar School outside Leeds visited Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois the spring of 1974 and students (myself included) from Larkin visited Benton Park. I stayed with his family in 1974 and we visited back and forth for several years after that.

I remember my reaction when I found out that Jeremy had a stroke (horrified and deeply sad but relieved he was alive) — but I am not positive how I heard about it. I’m thinking it was Christmastime 1997 and Frances, Jeremy’s wife, sent us a Christmas card with a letter explaining what happened. Thinking back, it seemed to be years after his father’s sudden death (which I remember distinctly because Jeremy’s brother Nick called me), but it was only nine months later. Another trick my mind played on me is that I thought our 2002 visit to England when we stayed with Jeremy and Frances for a few days was much more than five years since the stroke.

Jeremy seemed pretty much his old self during that 2002 visit. We may have spoken about his stroke, but I am not sure. It was mentioned — I know my mom was worried when Jeremy said his vision was not what it used to be. My mom encouraged him to wear glasses even though he said he was too vain.

We’ve kept in contact with Jeremy and Frances on a semi-regular basis (although for years and years they sent us a Christmas card with Jeremy’s fun letter (whimsically drawn and captioned) and we, while delighted, sent nothing back. Once or twice I’d send a letter, but not often enough).

More recently, Jeremy’s daughter and I connected on Facebook and I’d relay news to Jeremy through her. Finally within the past 5 or so years, Jeremy has joined Facebook and that’s how we usually communicate. It was through this connection that I learned that Jeremy had written a book about his stroke. At the time it was only available on Amazon UK, but I bought it anyway. It took a long time to get here (early Covid days), but it eventually arrived. I must have been reading something else or busy languishing or something, because I put it on a shelf and promptly semi-forgot about it. I say “semi” because when I did spy it on the shelf I felt guilty for not reading it.

Hoover the Talking Seal

Cover of Hoover the Talking Seal: An Account of Stroke Rehabilitation from the Patients Point of View (I will remove if asked)

I finally opened Hoover the Talking Seal and began reading it on our recent trip to Lake Gaston where I had no cell or Internet coverage. I really enjoyed reading it and kicked myself for not opening it sooner.

There are many things to like about this book. For me, personally, it’s being able to read Jeremy’s words again. During our early friendship we wrote weekly letters to each other (I have a suitcase full of his letters to me in the attic kneewall). Receiving a letter from him was always a delight. Reading his words in this book was as delightful.

Jeremy is a talented writer. He has been for as long as I have known him. He has a way of writing to the average person so the average person will understand, but he does not “talk down” in his writing. Hoover the Talking Seal tells the story of one man’s stroke and the rehabilitation that followed. It’s told with humor, humility and frankness.

Jeremy’s stroke caused changes in his vision which he writes about in detail. In addition to being a talented writer, Jeremy is also a talented artist. Accompanying the narrative in the book are several illustrations that Jeremy created to show others what he was seeing. He was given some sort of Royal recognition for these illustrations, maybe he mentioned it in the book, but I cannot find exactly where it is.


Thirty! Thirty? How can Clare be thirty years old? Wasn’t it last year she was a toddler? Wasn’t it last month she graduated from high school? Wasn’t it last week she left for college? Wasn’t it yesterday she moved across the country?

I cannot adequately describe how incredibly proud I am of Clare. She’s found ways to support herself during her time in Olympia. Some of those ways have not been pleasant, but she persevered. She has finally landed her dream job where she is highly respected. Clare has made some loyal and loving friends and is a loyal and loving friend herself. Clare attended graduate school while working at a bookstore. She’s been published twice and has, at least once, been referenced in another publication.

All that in only thirty years. More than I’ve accomplished in more that twice that amount of time.

Happy Birthday Clare/Bug/Bear/Baby-Girl, I love you more than you will ever know.


Wayne and me 2013

On September 15, 2006 I joined a group of bloggers in a 365 project where we’d write about someone we knew in as many words as our current age. Through that project I met many wonderful people and through those people I ended up meeting Wayne McNeill.

Regardless of when I first met Wayne, for years I thought his name was Deloney because that’s the name he blogged under. He was pretty much the only male in our group of bloggers. On one of his now-gone blogs he writes: “As of this month I’ve been blogging for seven years. And what do I have to show for it? Chicks! Some really hot chicks! Fame has eluded me but my words were not wasted. 🙂” referring, I think, to his group of women followers.

Unfortunately he deleted most of his blogs. I think the only one left is Green Moleskine Notebook. Also, if you know the URLs of his old blogs, you can find some posts on the Wayback Machine. I plan to copy as many posts as I can and save them somewhere.

Wayne and I interacted through his blogs and friends’ blogs. Since May 2009 most of our interactions have been through Facebook — status pages and Facebook’s Messenger. Until just now I didn’t realize how many times we’d chatted.

Wayne was a poet. His writing could make me laugh. It could also make me cry. It was always wonderful, insightful and delightful. His book, Songbook for Haunted Girls and Boys, was full of his prose-poetry, each poem exquisite.

Wayne was a loving husband to Beth who he lost about 4 years ago. In a FB chat message to me shortly after Beth’s death, he wrote: “To this day I don’t really know what it was. From day one Beth and I clicked. It’s not as though every day was perfect. We had our rows like everyone does. But not once in 34 years did we ever consider breaking up. We were slowly turning into the same person, which is why it’s so hard for me to be without her now.

We met in September 2013 when Dean and I were in Niagara Falls, Canada for a few days and drove to Toronto to have drinks with him and Beth. Wayne and I spoke on the phone shortly before Beth’s death, just after he’d taken her to the emergency room and learned that she had terminal cancer. I was awake at about one in the morning when he posted his phone number on Facebook asking for someone to call him.

Wayne left this world on May 22, 2021 and I learned of it in the past couple of weeks. He left it far too early for me, but perhaps too late for him. I don’t think he ever got over losing Beth. He never seemed to be the same in his Facebook posts.