Family web site: http://alum.mit.edu/www/alanzabel 

Flickr photos:  http://flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/ 

(click on a collection on the right and drill down to find the set - album - that you want to see)

Alan’s email: alanzabel@alum.mit.edu.

Cheryl’s web site:  www.cherylanneroach.com 

Cheryl’s email:  cheryl@cherylanneroach.com

 

December, 2013

 

Dear Friends,

 

2013 has been the orthopedic tag team year for Cheryl and Alan.  First, on June 24, Alan had a total hip replacement of the left hip.  Then on August 8, as Alan, feeling 95% recovered, went to his final physical therapy appointment, Cheryl was seeing his surgeon about her right knee (thinking she might get a cortisone injection).  But, she ended up having a total knee replacement of her right knee on September 3.  Alan has been at 100% ever since later in August (and in fact is riding his bicycle further and faster than ever), but knees are more complicated.  At over 3 months after surgery, Cheryl, although she has been able to do 4 mile walks, is still recovering and looking at several more months of recovery.  

We both had our surgeries by the same doctor and at the same hospital and with many of the same caregivers at the hospital.  We joke that we should have asked for the family rate or discount!

 

 

Needless to say, the surgeries have impacted our travel plans somewhat.  We did go on an Alaskan cruise and land package in May.  It was very scenic and glad we did it, but even then, we were coming to the realization that at least Alan would be having surgery soon.  As usual, we posted the best pictures on flickr.  You can go straight to our Alaska pictures via http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/sets/72157634613583070/ (or if you don’t want to type all that from a hard copy, just go to flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/ and navigate to the set “2013 Alaska”).  Maybe next year’s letter will have pictures of us hiking again on the moors!

The surgeries have had an impact on our day to day lives, but we are getting back to “normal.”  Alan, after over 36 years of running, cannot run any more.  He misses it, but has found a new and wonderful pastime in bicycling.  He regularly does rides of 15 - 40 miles and goes to the gym on other days.  Cheryl, still recovering, is able to do some of her walking.  As she continues to recover, her walking will become more comfortable and she hopes to be back to her 5 mile power walks. She also goes to the gym to lift weights and to use the stationary bike (which is good for her knee).  And we have been well sustained by our church family at Riviera United Methodist Church.

We want to be clear that we view our surgeries as miracles.  Not so many years ago, before these surgeries, people with joint problems like ours would have had to live as virtual cripples.  But now, miraculously, we have new leases on life - the opportunity to live physically active lives well into the future.  We are grateful to God, who has blessed us with modern medicine, talented surgeons, and caring physical therapists.  

In closing, we experienced yet another Christmas miracle recently.  As she has done in the past, Cheryl is a “liaison” for an AFS high school exchange student.  The function of the liaison is to maintain contact with the student and host family, file reports, and work with AFS if any action is required.  Mostly the kids and their host families are very happy, and experience no problems.  However, things were not working out so well for Cheryl’s student contact, Karina from Germany, this year.  The fit with the host family was just not very good.  After Cheryl’s diligence in her reporting and contact with the student and host family, it was determined with AFS that Karina should be moved to a new host family.  Host families are not easy to find, especially on a short schedule.  And Karina did love going to Redondo High so needed, if possible, to stay with a host family in that school district.  Cheryl (and Alan) both thought of a family from our church whom we had known well for quite a number of years.  But they initially said no to hosting - they felt they were too busy, especially with a high school senior daughter (at Redondo High) who would be going on college visits, plus many other family obligations.  But then, on November 30, Karina went with Cheryl and Alan to the Advent Festival in the evening at our church.  There she met some other youth and in fact, bonded as fast friends with the daughter within 20 minutes!  The family changed their minds immediately, AFS paper work was accomplished expeditiously, and Karina joined her new host family on December 6.  Both she and the host family are happy and blessed.  That is a Christmas miracle!  Of course, they will continue to enjoy each other and learn about their different cultures until next June, when Karina will return home to Germany.  

AFS, by the way, is the same organization that Cheryl went with as an exchange student to Platjenwerbe, Germany her senior year in 1966-67.  She still loves her German sister, Sibylle, who lives with her husband, David, in England.  In fact,we have visited them a number of times, and they have visited us.  This is what AFS is about - changing the world, one person at a time.

 

All our best to you and yours this holiday season.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Love, 

 

 Cheryl and Alan

 

P.S.  December 25, 2013

Two other highlights of the Christmas Season.

Thursday, December 19, 2013.  Alan was Santa Claus at the Riviera United Methodist pre-school.  It was so much fun!  Lots of ho-ho-ho-ing, happy kids, and happy parents.  In fact, they liked me so much that they will probably ask me again next year and I will accept in a heartbeat!

Sunday, December 22, 2013.  We heard the Los Angeles Master Chorale perform Handel’s Messiah.  Cheryl said it was the best she had ever heard and Alan agrees.

PLAY MUSIC