25 years ago yesterday, my dad was in a rehab center in Grand Forks. I recall it as the day he moved there from St. Ansgar's, but that memory is questionable: I do know it was 18 days after the massive stroke that would change us all forever. I remember January 28 because it's the day the space shuttle blew up, and though that day holds memories for many people around my age, for me it is inextricably connected to my father's stroke, and the early days of that journey for my family.
Mr. Carlson, our 7th grade science teacher, brought a television into his classroom and set it on one of the orange counters, and then he wept. He wept while a roomful of twelve year olds watched the shuttle explode over and over and over again, and he told us we would always remember this day, as he remembered Kennedy's assassination. Most of us thought he was crazy. I knew he was right.
I called my sister on January 10, and said "Dad's stroke is old enough to rent a car."
She said "We should've bought it a drink 4 years ago."
I realized in college that, given the power to go back and change things, I don't know that I would. Without my father's crippling stroke, I would be a different person, and my whole town would be a different town. You can't screw with history like that, as Michael J. Fox showed us. And we all loved the parts of him the stroke left behind, and he thankfully lived another 16 years.
When he died, the stroke was old enough to drive.