|Enid and Murray Merin|
Enid Rothman was a fifteen-year-old beauty who was not to be denied. What is more, this vivacious teen (somewhat more than a little extrovert) had set her sights on Murray Merin (a 19-year-old Adonis in a naval uniform) following their first encounter on Rockaway Beach. Three years later she married her beau at the tender age of eighteen. Murray considers himself to have been a cradle snatcher, but in truth the poor lad didn't stand a chance!
Sixty-one years later Enid reflects on the phases of their marriage, including the current one which so nearly didn't happen because of Murray's stroke. The initial, understandable, "couldn't keep their hands off one another" phase melded into the child-raising "love-bond" years. There then ensued a couple of divergent periods in the 'seventies through the 'nineties. It is quite understandable that Enid considers their lives changed when the three children (2 girls and a boy) left home. Now the post-stroke marriage has blossomed into the "can't keep their eyes off each other" present. In many ways, feels Enid, the past eleven retirement years are the closest together they have ever felt.
Murray worked hard as a provider and upon leaving the navy was the foreman of several lighting fixture plants; he also oversaw the manufacture of elevator cabs. Elevators were not the only things to go 'up in the world', for the family vacated Brooklyn for Long Island. Murray's spare time was often devoted to his second profession (and second love), baseball, which found him in demand as a junior high/junior varsity umpire. Enid equipped herself with real estate and insurance licenses and progressed from working part-time around children's hours to a full-blown, sophisticated, natural-born sales expert with excellent communication skills (she still has them!). Enid rose from selling Rosenthal china door-to-door to the zenith of her sales career - promoting The World Book Encyclopedia. She has even been highlighted in a sales techniques publication. Using the power of observation long before hitting the front door, Enid successfully identified her targets' wants, and converted them into needs to satisfy both their 'hidden agenda' and the values they held close. It helped that she strongly believed in her product and so fulfilled many parents' desire to provide their children with knowledge. When the home sales market faded, Enid was adept at turning her hand to alternatives, be it lecturing to five classes of fifty attendees weekly promoting a diet plan or leasing cars.
So it was that Enid and Murray spent most of their daily hours enwrapped in their own spheres. Two careers required two cars, and this was a situation which persisted far into retirement until one car 'died' in September 2010. Its insurance was never renewed as scheduled in 2/11 as Murray suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on 13th January of that year.
Retirement and the onset of the 'noughties' (2000-2009) saw a decade of mutual interests. Although still a paid part-time baseball umpire, Murray fully supported Enid's voluntary work with Senior America - particularly the Ms. NY Senior America pageant of which the still most-becoming Enid is a past finalist. Very much the 'groupie', Murray chauffeured the ladies, assisted with the setting-up and adopted the role of critic - to the director, not to Enid's colleagues in the Seasoned Steppers kick & tap line. Even post-stroke he accompanies Enid and does all but the driving.
Murray supports another of Enid's charitable projects, for Mental Health. Lectures to the mentally ill are somewhat ineffectual, so Enid is involved in a series of vignettes or 5-minute playlet scenarios which are then presented to the audience on an 'improv' basis. The plots are pre-determined (e.g. confiscating the keys to the car) and inspire lively conversation and audience participation.
But we must return to 13th January 2011. It was past suppertime and Murray didn't 'feel right'. Despite passing Enid's tests (tongue straight out; raise legs and arms, and so on) he couldn't follow the TV program and thought the single proffered glass of water was in fact two glasses. Negotiating the stairs to change clothes was a nightmare and he thankfully elected not to drive to the ER at St Joseph's. From there, the couple proceeded by ambulance to the ER at Mercy Hospital where Enid slept for two nights while Murray was kept in ICU. Supported by her son and daughters - whom Murray was unable to recognize - Enid returned home and visited Mercy daily. She was frightened at the recognition failure although it did not apply to herself and says she drove to and from the hospital in the snow-brightened darkness on sheer adrenalin.
Murray was not in pain. His disability was mental. He was disorientated. He wasn't rational. He'd suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. Enid attended to him through 3 days ICU, 3-4 days step-down and then 3 weeks resident rehab in Mercy (actively for 3 hours each day). Earning for himself the title "Mayor of Mercy", Murray considered that the staff treated him like a god; Enid maintains that even in adversity her partner never fails to exude his charm and charisma.
A delay in Murray's return home was a blessing for Enid, allowing more time for preparation. In spite of her initial shock and fear for the future, she had the foresight to initiate alterations to their two-story home which now has a fully-contained ground floor complete with walk-in/wheel-in shower. The delayed return home on February 13th was occasioned by the need to treat cellulitis and gout and the additional time allowed Murray to leave hospital without a walker or a cane, although his balance wasn't perfect. Even so, home care was needed for a couple of hours each day and the obvious stress Enid felt was exacerbated pending the completion of her home alterations.
Out of necessity the couple is now joined at the hip - and they like it that way. Enid says "we both felt a tremendous sense of loss. Everybody wants their old life back, but it's gone; it's gone." There is also a lasting deep disappointment that two lifelong friends were 'not there' for either of them. "This let-down initially provoked shock and anger, an emotion not felt even at the realization of the stroke." stated Enid. The 'Old' Murray's independent activities have changed. No more baseball umpiring or income from the same and no more avid reading. When 'Post-Stroke' Murray first opened the paper, he asked why it was in Spanish, seeing extra letters in the middle and end of words. This has improved with therapy and he is able to read slowly, especially the sports pages and stats he so loves. Balance has also slowly improved but isn't perfect; whereas he would walk 2 miles each day, Murray should now not walk alone. Driving is no more but
Murray doesn't need one of Enid's playlets or vignettes to nudge him into throwing-away the keys!
Enid too has accommodated her activities to secure more prime time together. Side by side they attend Stroke Life support group meetings, and enthusiastically involve themselves in fundraisers and social activities. Murray modestly allows his wife to "speak for me" at the meetings (which she does with her unique brand of lively humor), but when away from her on the Society's Friday beach walks, he's more forward than most in greeting passers-by.
Enid thinks Murray is incredible, "When things are nearly back to the 'new normal' there is a 'bummer' such as surgery for melanoma and basal cell to the eye and chest." Enid had five surgeries over the years and Murray was always there for her (however he was quite affected when he wasn't able to assume his usual helping role during her recent hospital emergency). Now it is her turn. "Paradoxically," she says, "Murray is always full of surprises. I never cease to be amazed at the pearls of wisdom which suddenly emanate from his lips." Stroke has brought them closer together physically and mentally so that they are observed to communicate quite admirably without talking. Enid considers Murray's post-stroke sense of humor to be far keener, "but a word of caution, he's now so honest and direct he may hurt the feelings of the unwary, which can be scary at times!
Murray was forced to forego his second love in the guise of baseball umpiring, but his first love remains by his side. As for Enid, she is still very much attached to that "cute sailor boy" she met on Rockaway Beach nearly 65 years ago.