The Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge
On August 1st, 1966 my brother Pat and I walked into our house on Strecker Road around 5:00p after a day of working as landscapers. Both of us were initially shocked by the state of our home. The dining room table looked like whoever had been there for lunch just stood up and left without clearing and cleaning. Serving dishes with food, silver ware, partially drunk glasses and crumpled napkins were just sitting there. Although Mom’s car was in the driveway, when we called to her and our brother Tim no one answered.
At this point I was thinking something very bad had happened. As Pat and I began clearing and cleaning we noticed the perishable items like milk and vegetables and meat were in the refrigerator along with the sugar. Then, it all began to make sense when we noticed Mom’s chair at the end of the table was wet. It was her birthday and I remembered when we kissed her goodbye on our way out the door that morning she said Nana and my dad’s sisters Kay, Mac, Roe, Pat and Joan were bringing lunch to celebrate her birthday at our farm since she was pregnant.
This was long before answering machines or voice mail and it was not unusual to go hours without hearing from Dad or Mom or someone else in the family. However, when the phone rang I knew it was Dad. Pat answered and I could see by the smile on his face it was the best news ever. We have a baby brother. He is healthy, Mom is doing great and Tim is going to stay with the Barron’s for a few days until Mom is ready to come home.
Our next question was, “When can we come to see them?” Dad said we should wait until tomorrow after work. When we arrived Mom had a look of joy and calm on her face. After we hugged her and checked in we asked what name had she and Dad chosen? He will be called Terence Thomas Houlihan. Mom said, the spelling will be the way the Irish spell his name T-E-R-Y not Terry.
When we went to the window to see him in the nursery, he looked to me like the other baby’s. Although, as I watched him grow from a baby into a man I learned very quickly, he might have looked like all the other babies, but he definitely was not like anyone else.
He was and still is an outdoor guy. As soon as he could he was on a horse and it became his passion expressed when he moved to Labadie Missouri and he purchased a six acre property with a home a barn and a pasture for his quarter horses.
He also was a climber. Tery and his friends Dan and Larry Rapp were like brothers in the climbing world. They would challenge one another to be stronger, more flexible and agile. Many of their vacations together were spent climbing and hiking.
I have often referred to Tery as an adrenaline junkie. If something is frightening and causes his heart to race, he wants to do it!
When Tery was four years old in 1970 he jumped from a tree onto the trampoline in our backyard to the ground and broke his leg in a spiral break. The cast for a spiral break requires that both legs to be in casts joined at the waist and connected between the knees with a bar for stability. If you knew Tery, it wasn’t the pain but rather the inconvenience that upset him the most.
As Tery healed so did his willingness to get around. He somehow figured out how to walk with both legs in casts. When our Mom took me to the University of Illinois Tery was along in the back seat. No, he wasn’t lying down on the back seat, but rather standing in the center of the back seat with his back facing the rear view window, his arms crossed enjoying the wind in his face as we viewed hours of corn fields.
He learned to go up and down the steps by himself. During one of his times going down the steps he lost control and broke the good leg when he slammed into the plaster wall surrounding the landing. He knew immediately it was broken. When he told Mom he had broken his leg she thought for a moment “How could he know”? And yet one hour later the emergency room confirmed it to be true.
In the winter of 1977 I was running a lock and dam repair project on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. It was normal for me to catch a flight on Friday’s and be met at the airport by my wife at the time, Mary Ellen and our children. When I opened the door and sat in the passenger seat, Mary Ellen said “Your Mom called. Tery is in the hospital. He was riding his horse when she slipped on some ice and then fell against a railroad tie wall breaking Tery’s leg pretty bad”. Without a moment’s hesitation we drove directly to St. John’s Hospital.
When we entered the room he was laying back with his leg elevated. It hadn’t been cast yet because of the swelling, but rather pins and exterior rods supported the breaks from his ankle to his hip. He was peaceful and yet frustrated knowing he would be trapped inside for the foreseeable future. All he wanted to do was be a boy and have fun. However, his journey was defined very early as more than that.
Tery was diagnosed with ALS in October of 2010.
I was moved by a surprise visit from the roommates Tery once lived with in Santa Barbara. They made the trip to St. Louis to stay connected during this challenging time, while offering some comic relief as a distraction from his ALS.
There is nothing more valuable than the gift of male friendships, bound by a depth of life experiences and matured by time.
These are men, all in their late forties and early fifties came, for the weekend to care for my other without one moment of hesitation. We all know Tery’s life partner Dana, carries the load, accept when these friends are around.
Marcus and Jimmy and Dave and Marc are men who have been touched by and continue to be challenged with all life has to offer. It was obvious to me they are better men because of their visit. Their empathy and confidence put Tery and all those who love him at ease.
On Monday evening September 8th beginning at 5pm another Angel in Tery’s life is hosting a fundraiser. The “ICE BUCKET CHLLENGE” to help pay for a vehicle and an electric wheelchair. Cathy Hancock is a key player on Tery’s team. She is the owner of the Hawthorne Inn the location of the event located on Front Street in Labadie, Missouri. The ice buckets will begin being tipping at 6:00pm. There will be live music , great food and the opportunity to meet an extraordinary man…… MY BROTHER TERY!


Posted in Community, Family/Personal.