Go for the GOLD

During the riots in Athens came an email news flash from my husband, Fred.  He and seven of his nine siblings were there, to cheer for their sister in the Special Olympics.  The third of ten children, Mary Louise had walked her way through competitions in the Midwest before being chosen for the 400 and 800 meter events. Her nickname was “Lob” short for Louie Lobster.  Her siblings, in-laws and nieces and nephews wore matching  “Team Lob” t-shirts with pride.

Lou as always was totally on message: Go for the Gold. 


“Lou won the gold medal for the 800 meters today!” reported Fred.
“She started off slow but passed her competitors one by one, and led
the entire last lap. We were in  tears when we she came down the last hundred meters, totally focused, exhausted, exhilarated.”


Lou had this to say: “I was always was a good walker. I loved to walk

home from school with my brothers, when they would let me be with  them.”


For Lou this experience was more than her personal best. As a toddler she had brain damage with some retardation from meningitis. She suffered from frequent seizures, and more than once her sisters pulled her out from the bottom of a swimming pool. Lou always took strong medications to control the seizures but the side effects slowed her down mentally and inhibited her personality.  Despite this disability, Lou kept a steady job for more than 15 years, cleaning rooms at the Drury Inn in Springsfield, IL.


A few years ago, Lou’s siblings decided it was important for her to become more independent gave the go ahead for Lou to have brain surgery in order to decrease the need for the meds.  Lou underwent successful brain surgery and really came into her own without the strong medications. 

Remarkably, Lou never complained despite her struggles. All her life people thought she couldn’t keep up, didn’t understand, and would never be independent, and always would be different.

Her father, Robert Nachtwey, a physician, made a point of telling everyone: “Mary Louise is my favorite child.”

Yes, Lou is different. Now and forever she’s a Gold Medalist. If only her parents could have lived to see this day!


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