Please excuse the impersonal nature of an email for such a personal message. I have tried to call as many of you as possible, but quite frankly, I am pretty emotionally exhausted. Sharing with close friends and family that you have a serious illness (diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic) is really difficult. And yet, I want to be the one to tell you – hence the email.
I have been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) – a progressive, degenerative and ultimately fatal neurological disease. For the best explanation, please see the Mayo Clinic’s website and search MSA.
I have every intention of taking this disease head-on. To do so I need to be closer to Mayo in Minnesota for the on-going clinical trials they are conducting on the disease. The Doctors also want me in an environment where falls don’t happen (balance is an issue); where I don’t live alone; where good nutrition is better than hit and miss, and where stair steps are non-existent. Obviously, a move is required.
Therefore, I will be returning to my hometown of Luverne, Minnesota this Tuesday, May 15th. Luverne is a wonderful small town of about 5,000 — and a great place to heal Forty-four years ago, the good people of Luverne wrapped their collective arms around a 12 year old little boy whose world had collapsed with the drowning accident of his Dad and Uncle. That little boy was me. They did their best to bring normalcy back to my life, and they did a pretty darn good job!
Small, caring communities like Luverne look after you whether you want them to or not! That’s good people.
I take with me 32 years of heart-warming memories; lifelong friendships; of public servants I worked for whose selflessness and courage have made America and the world a better, safer and healthier place. Thank you, Rick Nolan (for giving me my start, and a sense of fighting for right things no matter the odds is worth it, – now win again – we need you!); to Gerry Sikorski who taught me to work hard and care deeply; to Bruce Vento who taught me never to lose sight of your goals even in the face of adversity – and broke my heart; to Betty McCollum who showed me how to make history through great policy, and that tenacity is a virtue; to Martin Sabo who showed me time and again why the Congress should be cloned after him!; to Keith Ellison whose fearless idealism and sense of justice made me feel the impossible – possible; and to Paul and Sheila who taught me passion is a requirement for service. I also want to thank those honorary Minnesotans I worked for: Tom Downey (who hired me because I was from Minnesota), Henry Waxman (the conscience of the Congress), and my true brother and precious friend, Mike Honda. To my mentors, self-identified proteges, and priceless interns – thank you all – my work product was far better, and my stories much richer because of you.
I intend to beat this – with God’s help and your loving support and prayers I will be back – and in the meantime I intend to keep my political emails coming at you! Like our great patron saint, Hubert H. Humphrey, I am a grateful “happy warrior,” and eternal idealist. Keep my eyes on the prize with your emails, texts, and calls…
My grateful thanks, and blessings.