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.”

START Now!!!!!

My Wife Jill, wrote another note to a fellow caregiver…and she didn’t mince words….  Just reading this makes me proud of Jill!

Your question seems to be the most common question among caregivers. Disappointment and frustration mixed with fear and loss often creates an environment where all parties are stuck, unable to move forward. It is an awful place to be.

I have been my husband’s caregiver for 11 years (massive stroke at age 51). We are extremely blessed that he never even considered not recovering.  Full disclosure: the first few years he was so disconnected from reality that he didn’t really know how bad off he was. It took years for him to understand his situation. The good thing was that we had been working so hard on recovery and had made such progress that when he did understand, he was motivated to keep improving. We regularly meet with survivors and caregivers and offer encouragement and perspective.

That all being said, I am an advocate for strength and goal setting. So here it goes:

There are moments in our lives where we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves “Who am I really?” More importantly, “Who do I want to be?” Is quitting is better than trying? Is today going to be better than yesterday? Did I teach my kids to quit when things get hard? What are they going to see when they see me, now that things are hard? Is it all just about me or do I care how my actions affect others? Does Poor Me EVER end well? 

How you and your husband answer these kinds of questions will help you chart your course foward. Recovery is a choice, a choice we have had to make every day. We decided together that life was still going to be good, and it is!  It is different, but it is good. Hard, but worth the effort.

Our life changed dramatically in an instant, as has yours. I pray you will take this time together to decide what you new life is going to look like. We only live one day at a time so I encourage you to start with that perspective.  Today we will accomplish _____________. Remember that you are in this together. Together, you can create a beautiful life worth living. Start Now!

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.”


Is Aphasia bad?



YES!  I know; I have it. Listen to Carl McIntyre’s story….

Kathryn Marshall 

Carl McIntyre made the movie “Aphasia” in 2010, five years after a stroke damaged 80 percent of his brain’s left hemisphere, thus severely impairing his processes of communication. McIntyre shared the movie and his presentation, “Hope is a Four Letter Word,” in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s on Thursday night.

Susan Latham, chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the College, said aphasia is a communicative disorder that inhibits language but not intellect, resulting in the loss of the ability to speak and listen. Despite facing this situation and receiving news that he may never speak again, McIntyre continued to make improvements, Latham said.

“Carl starred as himself in a short film, recounting his story to adapt to the incredible changes in his life,” she said. “Now, he tours around the world, presenting the movie and motivating people with his story.”

Before his stroke, McIntyre worked as a teacher, actor and salesman. In the movie, McIntyre reenacts a year and a half of therapy and learning following the stroke, indicating how losing the ability to communicate changed both his and his family’s life. A presentation given by McIntyre followed the movie.

Aphasia Sucks!

“Having a stroke sucks,” McIntyre said. “Aphasia really sucks. Before I had a stroke, life is good. … Job is voice — actor, teacher and really good sales. … But after stroke, everything’s different. I can’t speak, and I can’t read or write. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

A year and a half after the stroke, he was no better, McIntyre said. Being trapped in one’s head is a prison where there are disappointments everyday, he said.

“I remember saying, ‘Live or die, I don’t care. I’m over life,’” he said. “Bad place, really dark, dark place. But Carl is Carl and most times I’m happy.”

McIntyre’s recovery was a multi-step process. The first step was to mourn and realize he was no longer the same as the ‘Old Carl,’ he said. He then wrote the word ‘acceptance’ on a large paper pad — the second step towards recovery.

“I’m still here,” he said after writing the word. “I’m still relevant and no fear — fearless. … There is hope, hope is everything. No love, no life. … I love to live again, and I love hope.”

Another step in the process is hope, McIntyre said, and the final step is progress. No matter if it’s big or small, progress every day matters, he said.

He said he is lucky because he is still able to walk, and even though his right side is weaker and his timing is off, he is still able to toss a baseball with his son.

McIntyre said having purpose is also very important. Right now his purpose is the movie, he said.

“My brain is always on,” he said. “And faster every year because I’m working every day. … I’m trying.”

McIntyre said once insurance ran out and he could not pay for certain therapy programs, he did, and continues to, learn to speak again through free study subject programs at various universities. When learning to speak, associating words with pictures is necessary — such as breaking the word “when” into “w-hen,” while thinking of the bird, he said.

The best advice he can pass onto future speech therapists and families is patience, he said.

“Lot of patience because today is a good day, tomorrow not too much,” McIntyre said. “But patience can never quit. … I’m lucky because friends help life back … and understand I never be the same. My brain is fine. I can’t speak, but I’m no dummy.”

“One person understands me, I’m over the moon,” he said. “I know I never be the same, and every day is hard. But every day is good too. Possibilities, endless possibilities. … Aphasia, still sucks, but I win every day and you can too.”

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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