Jack Green and I met in college. We were both in the same fraternity. After college, we lived together for about 9 months, before he moved to Lincoln and then ultimately to Tennessee.
I regret that we did not keep in touch…only occasionally seeing each other at alumni events. Last year, Jack moved back to Omaha, and I did not make it a priority to reconnect. Another regret.
Last week I finally made a point to go see him.
You see, it was really my responsibility to take action to reconnect, because Jack has come back to Omaha to be near family and friends due to his having ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS affects approximately 5 out of every 100,000 people worldwide. 1 out of 10 cases of ALS are due to a genetic defect. The other times, the cause is unknown.
In ALS, nerve cells (neurons) waste away or die, and can no longer send messages to muscles. This eventually leads to muscle weakening, twitching, and an inability to move the arms, legs, and body. There is no known cure for ALS.
Because ALS affects only motor neurons, the disease does not impair a person’s mind, personality, intelligence, or memory.
Before I walked in to Jack’s room at Skyline Villa, I knew very little about ALS. Jack told me that it’s pretty much the opposite of Alzheimer’s disease. He immediately recognized me and called me by name.
I had heard that Jack likes smoothies, so I brought him one. He has lost most use of his hands, so I helped him enjoy it. And while his body is not working well, his mind sure is. I was absolutely amazed at his memory. We talked about our days in the frat and some of the good and not so good things that we did! Several times I saw the famous Jack Green laugh.
This week’s blog is in honor of Jack and my thanks for his friendship. I plan to deliver many more smoothies!
A $50 contribution has been made in honor of Jack to ALS in the Heartland. ALS in the Heartland is a dedicated, non-profit resource of free services and support to ALS patients, their families and caregivers throughout all of Nebraska and western Iowa.
For more information on this organization, go to: http://www.alsintheheartland.org/.
I am saddened to report that Jack passed away on August 1st at 5:55pm.