Service of Calendars and Miracles

January 8th, 2018

Categories: Calendars, Miracles, Time


 I have permission of Tom Clemmons, editor of The Pawling Record, to run the piece below from the December 29 issue. I wanted to share the enlightened message of the author, Lucille Grippo, former client turned friend, as well as to celebrate this woman whose story is as much a miracle as her never-give-up, optimistic outlook is exemplary. My heart leapt with joy when I saw her email last week. It’s been a year and a half.

Jacqueline Muller, licensed clinical social worker, clinical director and owner of Dynamic Intervention Wellness Solutions, Pawling, did not exaggerate in her introduction to the newspaper article: Lucille, a young mother, has come back from death’s door with flying colors.

When I first learned about her condition, around Christmas 2016, Lucille couldn’t see words on the computer nor could she drive as a result of cardiac arrest that came out of the blue one summer evening and wreaked havoc on her body. Recently, her doctor declared that her eyesight is fully back and she drives. We have a date for tea in NYC this spring.

This was the article in The Pawling Record:


Jacqueline Muller, LCSW-R

As we launch into a new year many people are starting to make new year’s resolutions, and calendaring is a tool so many people use. This blog by Poughquag resident Lucille Grippo is a beautiful testimonial and confrontation regarding how we can over/underestimate the importance of the calendar. This remarkable woman, a mother of three, has literally come back from death’s door to tell us to make the most of our borrowed time.  (Get your tissues ready, and prepare to stretch your smile muscles.)

Why a Calendar Is So Important to Me

Photo: Polestar Calendars

January marks the start of a new year, and at every corner of the mall there are vendors hawking calendars, large, and small, monthly, daily as well as planners and themed. You name it, they sell it.

For some it marks events, meetings, and happy occasions. For others, it’s deadlines, flights to catch and work obligations. For me, a “calendar” means so much more. It symbolizes days to celebrate life. Borrowed time, so to speak. I used to check off the days on my calendar like a soldier checking his posts. That changed on June 15, 2016. That’s when my calendar stopped just as my heart did when it went into sudden cardiac arrest. For two months, dates on the calendar, time on the clock, and days of the week meant nothing to me. My cortical blindness prevented me from seeing the numbers and the days. My aphasia blocked the connections of what those strange symbols were and what they meant.

“What is today’s date?” the cheery doctor would ask on her daily rounds. Mostly I guessed and was way off.

“Do you know what month it is, Lucille?”

“May!” I would exclaim, so confident I was correct. For the last memory I had was of my daughter’s first communion in May. The doctor gently reminded me that it was July.

As the days and weeks ticked by, slowly it started to come back. The large whiteboard in front of my bed at rehab listed day, date, month, and year. I promised myself I would memorize the information when the doctor came. Alas, it was lost in my brain again.

Soon after, though, some things started connecting and making sense again. I began recognizing the symbols as numbers, and although I couldn’t retain the information for more than a few minutes, I still perceived it as progress. Some days were more frustrating than others, but with patience and determination it all came back.

I came home from rehab, and my trusty calendar felt like an old friend, warm and comforting. When I began writing and reading again, one of the first things I did with encouragement was to jot down my therapy and doctor appointments. I recognized how my calendar was packed with things that seemed so important at the time before my heart event, that had no meaning now in contrast to a near death experience. Instead of being a slave to my calendar, I now guard it and only the most important and precious things make it on there. Now I use it as a tool and one that will no longer rule my life. In fact, I may not be carrying it with me into 2018.

Note: Lucille Grippo is a marketing and public relations specialist. After surviving sudden cardiac arrest in June 2016, she found a new perspective on life. She resides in the Hudson Valley with her husband and three children and feels blessed everyday.

Do you know strong people, such as Lucille, who won’t give in or give up? Do you let your calendar drive your life or are you, like Lucille, in charge of your time?



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5 Responses to “Service of Calendars and Miracles”

  1. Jeanne Byington Said:

    In addition to the obvious reasons for wanting to post Lucille’s article, it was to remind myself of the importance of priorities and patience.

    I began to fume while waiting for someone at the self-service package area at the post office just now. The customer at the scale was young and therefore no doubt familiar with keyboards and responding to questions and directions on a screen etc. but S L O W as the dickens. Then I thought “Calm down. You’ll get your turn. Solve a problem. Read an email” and then “Maybe she has a physical disability I can’t see.”

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    Recoveries followed by happy lives to follow are causes for rejoicing, and with good reason. They are rare. Many years ago there was a story in Reader’s Digest, told by a man who said he had thought a fatal brain tumor out of existence four times. Most of us aren’t so lucky, and despite herculean efforts land in the cemetery. Perhaps the lady of the calendar is ushering in a new era…..and then maybe not, since miracles are, by nature, infrequent.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In addition to a can-do, positive attitude, Lucille has youth on her side along with being so healthy before this episode which all helped the miracle happen. I think there are more people than we realize who surprise doctors and themselves. Many may not be so open about their recovery or we don’t know them. I raise my glass to Lucille as I’m lucky enough to know her.

  4. Martha Takayama Said:

    Lucille’s story is simply amazing and heartening. Her determination and fortitude are also very impressive. There are several people in my building who constantly cheerfully engage in productive activities and with other people despite different but major limitations. I admire their mental strength and determination and their amplitude of spirit.
    I have been counseled to record all good things that happen to me at the end of everyday to cement them as a positive record, but don’t always. I also try like you Jeanne, to be patient and put things in perspective. Although I am not ruled by the calendar, I think it is wise to plan pleasant activities, but bear in mind that everything is subject to change.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I like the idea of noting all good things at the end of every day. Not sure that I would be successful at keeping it up.

    You will learn, in Thursday’s post, that my patience was tried and I was not successful at putting it at bay. In fact, I reminded myself of my father….and while I didn’t show my temper as he did, and I didn’t describe my exasperation as much as I felt it–it must have been apparent! I had to smile thinking of what might have happened had he been in the same situation I found myself. His dismay would have been heard as far as California!

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