Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Church of Bert

Robin Brumett of Seattle placed an ad on Craigslist. She asked people to come to her home and speak to her husband who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. ALS is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Robin’s husband, Bert, is conscious, sees, hears and understands everything that is going on around him, but is trapped inside his body, unable to speak or move. He blinks to communicate, and uses a ventilator to breathe. Many people have come in response to Robin’s Craiglist appeal to have people visit their home to have Bert see and listen to them. Bert can no longer interact with the universe, so Robin is now bringing the world he loves to his bedside.

One friend called it “The Church of Bert”.

It is a tribute to the profound love between these people.

Lou Gehrig’s disease was named after the famed ballplayer who had it. Other victims of this devastating and heartbreaking disease include Woody Guthrie, the legendary folk singer, and Steven Hawking, the genius scientist.

But back to Bert and his story.

One of his last communications with his wife, Robin, was a love letter.
"I was putting on his socks and shoes for him and it said, 'Babe,' — we call each other 'Babe' — 'Babe, if this was reversed, I'd be doing this for you. I love you forever.' It makes me feel bad when I think about it. But I know that he would," Robin said, in tears.


One man came to read Bert sections of a book he is writing about the civil war. A father came with his little girl and read children’s stories to her during their visit. One man wants to bring his three boa constrictors, but the caregivers are a bit uneasy about that on their shifts. A scientist came to discuss volcanoes and earthquakes. A Peace Corps worker brought her pictures from all over the world.

One visitor described the experience as “raw and beautiful”. People arrive as strangers, and leave as friends.

ABC called it “a vast cathedral of the human heart”.

If you have a story that you would like to share with Bert, or want to just send him and Robin a quick email, please do! If you are in Seattle and wish to visit Bert, just email them at the below address.

Email him at BertUni@hotmail.com

I think it would also be wonderful to have folks get the news out about this opportunity to care.

I am going to send him an email. Surely you can join me.

Too often we think that we must do something large, something grand to change the world, or to live generously in it. Sometimes it also helps to do something small, something intimate, something for folks like Bert and Robin in Seattle, as yet unmet members of our very own human family.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jayne said...

How wonderful Mata. I also shall get an email off to Bert.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Alice said...

My husband's father died of this dreadful disease; it's the most devastating thing I can think of going through. I'm going to email Bert tonight.

12:26 AM  

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