By Gerald Krueger
8:55 PM PDT, April 28, 2013
We oldsters enjoy our idle time, and whenever a few of us gather, we love to talk of family, philosophy and the latest local, national and international news. Yes, discussion gets a little heated whenever the talks turn to politics. But so far, we all walk away friends and look forward to our next gathering. It is quite obvious that there is never a winner in political debates.
The other day, we asked around the gathering whom they admired the most in the world. I had to think long and hard about whom I admire the most. And I came up with quite a surprise, and the more I think about it, the more I am convinced I have chosen the right one for my adulation and respect.
My No. 1 admired and respected person in all the world is our son-in-law, Dr. Jon Wilsdorf of Rolla, Mo. My attention to this highly admired person is prompted by what this young man has endured for nearly eight years.
We first met Jon when our daughter, Merilee, dated him in college at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He was an impressive young man way back then and had his goals set high: to finish his undergraduate degree and go right into dentistry at Creighton.
We watched with eagerness his matriculation through this grueling training. We were so proud of him when he graduated as a doctor of dentistry and when our daughter, Merilee, received her master's degree.
They were married then, and Dr. Jon bought into a dental practice in Rolla. He was extremely successful as a family dentist, had hundreds of patients and eventually owned the practice.
Things went well for 17 years and two sons. Merilee had a great job as a professor at the University of Missouri Rolla, and life was good until the night of Halloween 2005, when Dr. Jon suffered a massive stroke. He was rushed to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Dr. Jon had experienced a massive brain aneurism, and the outlook was grim.
But divine intervention prevailed. Jon came under the care of the world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ralph Dacey, who saved Jon's life by removing a vein from his right lower arm, lifted his skull, opened up the carotid artery and bypassed this errant vein holding the aneurism. It was too late to ward off paralysis, so Jon was left without the use of his right arm and will always limp with partial paralysis of his lower right leg.
But we are not done. Jon had to undergo two more brain surgeries to mend more aneurisms. That still wasn't enough. He also had to endure the insertion of two stents.
Through it all, this fine young doctor has the most upbeat personality, with an unmatched humor that keeps us all in stitches. And that is the reason he is the one I most admire in the world.
Gerald “Jerry” Krueger is a retired educator, coach, commercial pilot and farmer. Write him at americannews@aberdeen
news.com. His column publishes Mondays.