I will: A Memoir of Stroke, Renewal and the Power of Song
BOOK REVIEW: ” I will: A Memoir of Stroke, Renewal and the Power of Song” by Jenny Sheldon with Sharon Dean
What is courage?
Jenny Sheldon might have rarely asked the question once but now knows the answer better than most.
Courage is writ large in I will, her inspirational memoir penned with the help of writer and friend Sharon Dean.
Jenny was in her mid-40s and teaching drama at Lismore High School in June 2007 when she experienced spasms in her right hand.
She was taken to hospital, where doctors found she’d had a minor stroke. Jenny was kept in for observation and was looking forward to going home the next day.
“It happened overnight. I had a massive stroke. I almost died. Now I couldn’t move on the right side of my body and I couldn’t speak. I didn’t know where I was. I was muddled and frightened.”
Many will not know Jenny’s fear of being trapped inside their body, a dark tunnel with no way out.
But little by little for Jenny something would stir deep from within the darkness. As she sought to rebuild her life – to move, to write, to drive, to speak – she would tell herself “I will”.
Because for Jenny, where there is a will, there’s a way.
She had help from Jean, her favourite nurse, who came to her one night when she was teary and depressed and, “…held my hand…an angel [who] watched me throughout the night”.
Pivotally, there would be her singing. Her former choir Voices in the Roar brought it back into her life. It became the “spoonful of sugar” that kept her going, she says.
Always there’d be her loving family and a band of devoted friends. They would all help Jenny go into battle.
For Jenny, her lance was an iron will, her “plume of feathers”, the singing, the family and friends, and the angels in her life.
It was fear versus courage. Which would win?
Jenny will tell you the story in beautiful prose. You don’t so much read the words as glide along with them in all their crests and troughs.
It holds lessons for all, about health, about relationships, about the things we might take for granted.
For where there’s a “will” for Jenny, there’s a way for us too.
Available from the Canberra Catholic Bookshop (02) 6239 9888