Dear Editor:

It has been five years and four months since a gentle giant was felled by an innocuous blood clot five years and four months since Norm Gagatek had the brain stem stroke we all thought would kill him.

But this month, the son, brother, uncle, father, friend, volunteer, light and sound specialist, fireman, electrician, small engine mechanic, tin basher and tinkerer has gone to Kelowna to a centre to learn more skills to allow him to come back to the community closer to the man he was.

Norm conquered the stroke as we knew he could by slowly rewiring his brain to make his body work for him in ways we were told could never happen. Norms recovery is also due to the love and support of this amazing community we call home.

Thank you to all the people who wrote kind wishes and memories in cards, to those who asked how he was, and continue to, to everyone who donated to the account that allowed his small family to go on.

Thank you to all the businesses and people who donated to his fundraiser, to the bidders on the auction items, to the volunteers and firemen who made it happen, so that his house could be adapted to his needs.

Thank you to the staff at Halvar-Johnson who brought him back to us, thank you to the Invermere Hospital and Columbia House staff (doctors, nurses and therapists) for taking care of him. Thank you to his care aides who helped him to continue his forward momentum and join the family. Thanks to his family and friends who continue to visit and support him.

And the biggest thanks of all go to his fiance and now wife Kim and his two sons for never giving up on him, and letting us be part of their family.

Norm has gone from being a supposed burden to walking, talking, feeding and taking care of himself. Every visit we have there is more of the old him there. He has found his independence again as a new Norm, but still the Norm we knew.

Norman we love you, you are our hero, and we cant wait for you to be home again, better than ever!

Jill and Keith Pawlyshyn