A biography, written in the style of a memoir, of a severely paralyzed man and the woman he inspired.
Grogan (Beyond the Veil, 2013) tells both her own story and that of James Lynch, a man paralyzed since the age of 14, who spent 44 years living in a hospital in Tauranga, New Zealand. Grogan met Lynch while she was at the hospital following her daughter’s brain hemorrhage and stroke. Distraught, she found solace beside the bed of a man whose garbled speech she couldn’t understand. Though almost completely paralyzed, Lynch’s mind remained sharp, and he managed to touch many in his years at the hospital. Until safety regulations prohibited it, he enjoyed regular trips to the movie theater and to town via his wheelchair bed and the local ambulance company. Even when he was no longer able to leave the hospital, he enjoyed visits from local sports heroes or making new friends with folks who visited the hospital to see their own loved ones. Some, like Grogan, became lifelong friends, staying in touch via letters and telephone. The bulk of the narrative is Lynch’s story, told in the first person, with the opening and closing of the book devoted to Grogan’s own recollections as she describes how her friendship with Lynch helped her to find her way and give her the strength to leave her job as a teacher and pursue her calling to be a motivational speaker. This slim volume, told in simple prose, is a quick, inspiring read that captures the optimism of a man who faced great adversity but held fast to his strong Catholic faith. The decision to write Lynch’s passages in the first person is questionable, especially since his ability to communicate with others was limited. His story has been pieced together from Grogan’s own research, in addition to her memories of Lynch. That said, telling Lynch’s story in her version of his words gives the book a more intimate feel.
An engaging, moving memoir that will resonate with readers as Jimmy Lynch continues to find his way into the hearts of others.