Catastrophe to a Moment of Grace

NOW, in late 2017 we have 

Dear Friends & Family,

Reluctantly but correctly, we, and the medical staff, have concluded that Margaret’s condition has, at this time, plateaued at a point where she will continue to need twenty-four hour nursing care that cannot, given current Medicare statutes, be available to her at home.

She CAN be given that care in the excellent facility where she now is, Mercy Care Center in Oakland. 
It is there that we hope and believe she will be able to regain strength and more flexibility of her limbs. Her future is hopeful and she will be able to continue her goal of an improved quality of life.

Due to this change of plans Larry has decided to move into the Senior assisted living facility attached to Margaret’s Care Center. He will have a 2 room studio where he can duplicate the appearance and style (somewhat!) of their El Sobrante home.

There, Margaret will be able to spend time everyday with Larry AND CLARA, their dog, and still have the benefit of her nursing care just a wheelchair ride away to her room in the care center. They also have the use of a beautiful large garden with many new friends.

Although the transition is, of course, painful, we both realize it’s for the best and is not just an ending of one lifestyle but the beginning of a new one. To quote Gertrude Stein, “I begin again so often I begin AGAIN.

It’s also a great place for all of our friends to visit both of us in a cheerful homey atmosphere.

We hope to accomplish the move by January 15th.

Love upon love,
Margaret & Larry 

(A few months ago celebrating their 51st Anniversary)

Catastrophe and Moments of Grace

 On the Road to Healing: I am Sarah Kornfeld, the proud daughter of my mother, The Reverend Dr. Margaret Kornfeld (Maggie to many) and father, Lawrence Kornfeld (Larry to most); both in their eighties.

I am here on their behalf along with their many many friends who have asked how they could help transform the lives of these two beloved people who almost lost their lives last month in a tragic head-on collision through no fault of their own. 

Although they were both brutally injured, it is my mother who remains paralyzed with major spinal cord damage and in need of 24 hour around-the-clock nursing care.

This is their story of survival and why it will take a village to help them recover.

A special thank you to Judson Memorial Church for being a Co-Sponsor of this GoFundMe.

(More below the picture)
(After the Accident)

They were simply driving to church. After 51 years of marriage (a great love story known by many), they knew what to do after a terrifying election: be with people you love. Dad drove safely forward through the green light, my mother calm in the passenger seat; a driver came from the other direction, taking a sharp left and collided head on into their car, nearly killing them.
My father’s army skills kicked in. He pulled himself out of the car, staggered, at 86 years old, around the car and saw my mother, unconscious, and knew NOT to touch her (probably saving her life). He gave my number to the police and went into shock. He did not know:

Her neck was broken in two places (C4 and C5), which also injured her spine and her spinal cord; and that she would be operated on immediately (fusing her neck, removing a bone in her spine to make space for her injured spinal cord, all aimed to help her move her again.)

His clavicle and sternum were broken; he had blood seeping toward his heart and would soon be in surgery.

He had no idea that both would awaken in a hospital, and over some weeks would work to put their physical and emotional selves and their lives back together.

In that instant their lives were changed forever. But, true to who my parents are, they have turned this tragedy into an opportunity for growth and gratitude --grateful for each other, for life itself, and for all those around them who love and support them.

Now many of us want to help them with the unforeseen expenses of care and treatment now required. We want to show our gratitude for them and for all that they’ve given, not only to us, but to a wider world as well.

Mercy Care Center, in Oakland, CA, a non-profit nursing care center and retirement facility, has turned out to be the best place for Margaret and Larry to be. It was our good fortune that they had a bed available for Margaret, so she was moved from the hospital to Mercy on Saturday, December 10th. Larry will move into an apartment there when one is available, so he’ll be close to his love, and the apartment will accommodate both when Margaret no longer needs round-the-clock nursing care.

We've seen the excellence already. Mom is sitting up and working on opening her hands on her own and, hopefully, later to learn to walk againYet the real enemy is infection. Mercy caught one in her body the week of December 12th, and immediately had her readmitted to the hospital. She had treatment and is now back at Mercy. This saved her life, and we will need this level of excellence and attention to get through the next phase to: help her thrive and live, heal her body and learn to walk and eat on her own. She is determined!

The Facts:
1. Larry can just afford to move into Mercy’s assisted living tower this coming year.

2. Medicare will only pay for 100 days in a skilled nursing facility such as Mercy’s Care Center. WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO 100 DAYS BEING HERE. AFTER THAT INSURANCE MIGHT NOT COVER HER CARE.

3.After Medicare benefits are exhausted, the cost for Margaret ALONE will be $10,500/per month.

It is with the ongoing skilled nursing costs – and with hospital expenses, now totaling over $1 million, some of which may not be covered by insurance -- that the community around us can come together to help them survive this catastrophic event and turn it into new life.

Our Goal is to raise $250,000 (the cost of 1-2 years of skilled nursing care for Margaret.)  And we want to raise this (a miracle, we know!) with your gracious help!

Funds will support:
- 24 hour care until she can use her voice, feed herself, move freely, and walk again

- The focused medical care needed to identify and attend to all infections, immediately

- Daily Physical and Occupational Therapy to help with her daily living activities and, eventually, to walk again.

At Mercy, my father, who was also injured, will be able to reside in the assisted living wing and continue with his own healing. Hopefully, one day my mother can join him there. Then they will be back together again.

Changed Lives / Evolving Lives:
“Skilled Nursing” and “Assisted Living” are hard to imagine when thinking about Margaret and Larry. They are two people who have been at the vanguard of civil rights, the arts, AIDS activism, gender equality and women’s rights --progressive activism that has been part of huge cultural changes.

Margaret is a quiet love warrior who, after graduating from Union Theological Seminary, began her career on the Lower East Side of New York during the civil rights movement. She was ordained as a minister in the American Baptist Church and served at Judson Church; was a founding member of the AIDS Resource Center; President of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors; worked with the Imams’ Counsel post 9/11; and was a wife and mother while running her own private practice in psychotherapy. Her book, "Cultivating Wholeness: A Guide to Care and Counseling in Faith Communities " is a standard text, and taught in most Theology Schools in the United States and around the world.

Larry, is a vibrant and charismatic person who served his country as an MP in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and suffered hearing loss and PTSD as a result. He came home to New York in the late 1950's and joined the Living  Theater (to become Managing Director) and then Judson Poets Theater (as Artistic Director); co-founded the Theater for the New City; was head of the State Counsel of Arts; won three Obie awards for excellence in Direction; and later became Dean of the Theater Arts and Film Department of SUNY Purchase.

And, yet, they continue. Mom told us yesterday she is writing a book in her mind, “Wisdom Notes” and dad attended the lecture series at the Buddist Center this week. They keep finding meaning, making meaning, and moving forward.

Let us join them in their effort to change the course of this event from a catastrophe into a moment of grace. Thank you for all you can give; and spread the message of the power of our love and care – and request for any help people can offer. 

With love and deep thanks to you all!
This GoFundMe is also co-sponsored by Judson Memorial Church  (where mom and dad met, made art, married and I was raised).

Wisdom Notes: #1 From Sarah....
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Organizer and beneficiary 

Sarah E. Kornfeld 
Pacifica, CA
Lawrence Kornfeld 
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