We Celebrated A Spectacular Christmas In San Diego

Christmas in San Diego  Pixie dust

In December, we celebrated our Christmas… in San Diego.  … Does it get better than that???? Christmas in San Diego?

The reason for our trip to San Diego:  It a nice place…but more importantly….  My mother in-law, Betty, has dementia. 

She was stable for a number of years, but all of a sudden …she is decreasing.

Jill Decided On A Plan For Christmas  

Jill decided we go to San Diego for Christmas and rent a VRBO with her brother Brent , and our son Tom & his new bride Bethany .  My daughter Rachel, her daughter Stella and groom to be Nat were coming and would stay with Jill’s other brother, Gary to celebrate the holidays.  

We even had pictures Gary’s family and the cousins.

My wife, Jill, took most of the pictures on our final day…. overlooking the beautiful beachs in San Diego.  But,  I  said “ was I on this trip? …She tracked down a picture show grainy picture of me that someone else took. It was a grainy picture , but at least it shows ….I WAS there.


Jill made put together an agenda for Christmas DA she is really good at making an agenda  DA and forwarded it to everyone. ….People then added there little tweaks ….until …it was finalized. 

Everyday was the same. ….Brent would call our Father -in law,  Al. Brent would invite them to different functions….and Al… would decline!!! ….I couldn’t believe it!  

Betty’s three kids ….were all in San Diego for Christmas.   Why not be a part of this special time? 

On a few occasions, we traveled to her house to see them.  Was there a difference of us going there …or them visiting us??  DA Beats me. DA

It was so sad …to see Betty looking LOST… ALL the time.

I remember when we gave birth to our daughter Rachel.  Grandma Betty came up for a month to take care of Jill and help out with Rachel. I think back at that moment and tears fill my eyes.  

It was a Merry Christmas (Stella) for all of us…and I am hoping it was a Merry Christmas… for you.  2020 was a terrible year. Along with the Covid outbreak …and millions of people out of work, my brother lost his wife and my brother in-law Brent’s wife lost his wife. I pray this year …will be better.  

No matter what, just remember the joys of Christmas …“to give up one’s very self.  To think only of others AND… how to bring the greatest happiness to  them(Christmas photo)that… is the true meaning of Christmas.”

And one more testimonial this year….

We were very grateful to have Gordon and Jill open our 2019 International DI Society Conference. Their story of overcoming such an unexpected challenge in their lives with determination, teamwork and faith was simply put, inspiring. Gordon infused into his speech humor and a positive attitude that was infectious. His talk reinforced the need for all the 130 advisors, wholesalers and corporate leadership attending our meeting to promote the benefits of a sound income protection plan.

We were especially impressed by the tenacity Gordon and Jill showed to painstakingly build on every day, smaller successes that ultimately led to sustained progress. Their journey is one of triumph from which we can all learn.

Thank you, Gordon and Jill, for joining us in San Diego.

Don Schamay, CFP®
International Disability Insurance Society

and one more testimonial…

Am I on a roll? It is kind of cool getting one more testimonial in a month:




Wow! Overcoming adversity, commitment, love, Faith, communication, passion, are just some of the things I felt during Gordon and Jill’s presentation. But the biggest thing that pulled at my emotion was a desire to act! Get my life and protection based assets in order and fast. 

Also, I was inspired to go and help more people get their financial life in order ASAP. I will not take ‘NO’ for an answer!


Jim Lake
VP & National Head of Sales, Life, DI, & Retirement Income Specialists, CAS, RICP®

What was the number 1 reason people loved the talk?


IMG_0241This was incredible!

That was the site of my second talk.  My first talk was at 8:30am and the site there was the best I have ever seen.  Did we get pictures?  No!  Jill and I were in awe…and we forgot to get any pictures.  You will just have to take our word for it: AMAZING!

After I was done with my talk, they had a break and I was able to give each attendee  a book.  The sales people who came up to talk to me were so thankful for my message of hope, faith and empathy.

Afterwards, I rested up for my second talk of the day.  I am scheduled to call this week and review the pluses/negatives of my talk; I will let you know how it goes.

I heard of some photos taken by the Deloitte photographers that are incredible; I can wait to see them!  I will also share with you once I receive them.

So why did they like my talk?

Tom Lutz, Director of Sales said:

“I invited Gordon and his wife Jill to be the keynote speakers for Deloitte’s National Sales Meeting and they knocked the cover off the ball! I’ve hired sports heroes, navy seals, and other terrific motivational speakers in the past but Gordon’s story was the most powerful. The hundreds in attendance unanimously agreed that Gordon’s inspirational story of loss, recovery, hope and faith was a real eye opener and provided all of us with a reminder of what’s really important in life.”


What 7 years of recovery looks like…

My stroke was 7 years ago this month.  We have worked on recovery every day since I woke up, unable to move the right side of my body.  This video of me at therapy shows how far I have come!  Yeah, my movement is not perfect but I can lift my arm over my head, open and close my hand, and roughly engage my fine-motor skills.  WOW!

My physical trainer, Ryan Rockwood, filmed me.  My thanks go out to Ryan and the great people at the OHSU Center for Health and Healing for their consistent support and encouragement throughout my recovery.


You are live???












Yup!  image001

Mike Lee heard so many great things about me, that he want to interview Jill and me.  Unfortunately, I did not communicate with him that my verbals skills were EXTREMELY weak.  He found that out after a few minutes.  Luckily, Jill was able to help.  I rephrase that: Jill carried the entire interview… I said maybe a couple of words.   I must say, Jill was fantastic…then again, she always is!  Mike said he would send me the audio file so you can listen and I hope to have next week.

Mike Lee  ‪#‎DifferenceMakers‬, 1pm Fridays & 11am Saturdays PST on True Talk 800Gordon and Jill Viggiano share about their “new normal” after Gordon’s near fatal stroke dramatically changed their lives. Read Jill’s book, “Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope, and Faith.”

'#DifferenceMakers, 1pm Fridays & 11am Saturdays PST on @[111824588848797:274:True Talk 800]…@[710352915:2048:Gordon] and @[100002531756189:2048:Jill Viggiano] share about their "new normal" after Gordon's near fatal stroke dramatically changed their lives. Read Jill's book, “Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope, and Faith."<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> www.mybrainllc.com<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> www.createspace.com/4735394<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> www.truetalk800.com'

We were featured in AphasiaToolBox!


Gordon and Jill Viggiano is a couple who were on the fast track in life. Gordon was a successful sales executive, consultant and entrepreneur; Jill spent 19 years working in commercial real estate before retiring to become a full time mom.   All that changed when Gordon turned 51. On his 51st birthday, Gordon suffered a massive stroke with aphasia.

Gordon is now 7 years post-stroke and he is happy to report that he is getting better all the time. He is certainly not fully recovered from his stroke so this isn’t an “I did it and you can too” speech. Says Gordon: I am in the middle of my recovery and so my perspective is from “the trenches.”

In his presentation “My Brain Has A Hole In It,”he discusses this life changing experience and the lessons that have come along with it. his goal is to inspire people and help them see that good things can happen, even when one doesn’t think it is possible.

Despite his aphasia, Gordon is an inspirational and motivational speaker;  You can book Gordon for speaking engagements; visit his website: www.mybrainllc.com

Gordon’s wife, Jill, focused her skills and energy on his recovery and is now assisting him in his day-to-day needs as well as in his speaking career.  Jill’s book – Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope and Faith, is about her spouse and caregiver experience, shedding light on the real life impact of acquired brain injury, and providing hope and encouragement to those facing significant challenges.

Additional articles on Gordon and Jill are available.

If you have questions about how Aphasiatoolbox.com can help you and your aphasia , please contact us or call us at 724-494-2534. 

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