Inside the Tuthilltown Spirits distillery, the custom made caldrons are a sculpture of smooth copper gleaming in the skylights. I am there just in time to see a small ceremony, where Tuthilltown Distillery presents a check for $10,000 to Family of New Paltz. Ralph Erenzo is there for the ceremony with, among others, his wife, Vickie, and son Gable.
Ralph was in a near fatal car accident in Gardiner on December 21st, 2010. He was initially brought to Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie where he underwent five days of procedures, vital support and emergency operations. He was then transferred to Albany Medical Center for further treatment by experienced specialists.
Ralph describes his three months in the ICU as an experience of floating and struggling in a space of pain killers and hallucination, love and fear, trust and paranoia. Every day Vickie would be there when he opened his eyes. His son Gable would also be there, and his stepdaughter, Anna Jane.
After Albany medical, Ralph went to Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, New York, for a month of rehab. In Ralph’s own words:
“Four days and I will exit the institutional life. I’ve been at Helen Hayes Hospital in Haverstraw these last three weeks, Rehab Boot Camp. Some important lessons have been learned during this experience, the most significant, of course, is the value of family in times of difficulty. They gave me the will to go on. But also the fragile nature of our hold on life. Each day at ICU someone new would arrive near death, delivered into the hands and talents of the nurses and doctors. There was constant pain surrounding me, much of it far greater than mine. I was one of the fortunate ones, surviving all and about to go home. And with a whole new perspective on Life and Living. I’ve not gotten religion or anything otherworldly out of it. But the most profound change is in my understanding of my place, a deep gratefulness for my life and family and friends, and the world.”
A video has been made of Ralph’s journey. You can see it at http://vimeo.com/23965691
It has been a long road back from the brink for Ralph, and it’s great to have him home again!