An Oklahoma City man battled back from two strokes before COVID-19 struck. The virus nearly killed him, but nothing would keep Ron Cruise, 67, from his only daughter’s wedding.
The wedding goal may have seemed unattainable to many. Afterall, Cruise had spent months fighting just to survive.
To Cruise and to his team of therapists at Valir Pace, it was worth giving it their all.
“He’s a fighter,” said his occupational therapist Mitchell White, who first met Cruise back in February.
Cruise was battling back from a stroke and working to regain strength on his right side.
“He gets up every morning and does exercises to try to regain what he’s lost. He is extremely motivated and has a lot of support from his family. I think they help to keep him and he helps to keep them positive always despite the hardships,” White said.
When the pandemic shut the therapy center down, Cruise continued to work hard at home. Then, COVID-19 came calling. It started with an up and down fever that suddenly shot up to 104.
“We done a test and it come back positive, and that’s when we went to the hospital. I don’t remember a whole lot after that,” Cruise said.
Cruise’s wife Karen was with him at the emergency room, but not for long.
“I was able to go into the ER just to deliver his meds and fill out some paperwork and that was on June 12. As soon as they saw me in there, obviously I had to leave,” she said.
COVID sent Ron Cruise to intensive care where he spent almost two weeks on a ventilator. He improved, moving from hospital to skilled nursing, but then his health collapsed again.
“It was terrible not being able to be there,” Karen Cruise said as she choked back tears. “There was a doctor, Dr. Allen, who would call me every day to give me updates. And sometimes, those updates were very grim.”
Family and friends would gather on a lawn outside the hospital and pray for him, directing prayers to a window they thought was his.
“That wasn’t his room, but somebody else got some prayers, too,” Karen Cruise said.
For Ron Cruise, the loneliness of the fight to recover was intense, but his only daughter’s upcoming wedding motivated him. It motivated his team at Valir Pace, too.
Ron Cruise was determined to be there for his daughter, and his therapists were equally determined to help him achieve that goal. Months of extensive hospital and skilled nursing care culminated with two days of intensive effort, and with his Valir Pace therapy team at his side and with Ron Cruise’s unwavering resolve, he was quickly ready for his daughter’s big day.
“It’s great – my only daughter,” Ron Cruise said as his voice choked with emotion and his eyes filled with tears. “ It was good to be able to walk her down the aisle and then to have the dance with her.”
That dance is one few will forget, a father-daughter dance to the song, "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough."
For Ron Cruise, just as the song says, there was no mountain, not even the steep climb of recovery from COVID, that would keep him from his daughter on her wedding day.
“You can see the gratitude in the photos,” Karen Cruise said. “Even as they left the wedding and reception, she stopped to kiss her dad. It was great.”