OSAGE | Life was moving along as expected for Linda and Jerry Woodcock, when Linda suffered two major strokes in the period of two and a half weeks in 2005. 

The first stroke left her totally paralyzed on her right side, and the second damaged some of her left side and paralyzed her vocal cords.

“I would have many, many months of therapy,” she said. “I had 17 months of speech therapy, just to be able to speak.”

Eventually she returned home, where Jerry cared for her, but after five years of home care, Linda began to fall and decided to move to the Good Shepard Health Center in Mason City.

On Jan. 1, 2016, she became a resident at Osage’s Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, where, today, she continues to take therapy three times a week to strengthen her right side and legs. She can stand and walk, but will frequently use a wheelchair. 

This past spring, a group of Mennonite singers visited Osage Rehab. 

Linda said she began to mouth the words, because she knew many of the songs. 

“I could hear the music in my mind, but I hadn’t sang since the strokes," she said. "Then I heard someone singing and realized it was my voice. I was crying because I was so happy.”

A singer from the group later asked Linda, "Are we so bad that you are crying?’”

“No,” Linda replied, “Let me tell you my story. I had a massive stroke years ago. I used to be a singer and sang solos, and this is the first time I have been able to sing since my strokes, which was about 12 years ago.”

In her younger years, she was a soloist in high school in college. As an adult, she was an active member of Sacred Heart Church, where she used her singing talent in the choir and as director of the funeral choir. 

Linda, who once designed 400 Christian cross-stitch patterns, said, “Today, it is too difficult for me to use the needles.”

However, today, her physical challenges haven’t stopped her from restarting a new program of walking therapy.

“I ask God daily to guide me throughout the day, and at bedtime, I thank him for what he and I have done together throughout the day. If something comes up I know who to go to.” Linda said. 

Jerry added, “God gave me this challenge and I’ll do it.”

Linda, a Mason City native, met Jerry, an Algona native, while both of them worked in the Mason City mall now known as Southport Shopping Center. 

They have been married nearly 39 years, and call themselves the "forerunners of assisted living."

In 2008, Jerry was traveling from his job in Charles City to their home in Mason City when he hit a patch of black ice, rolling his car several times. 

“The Lord got me out of the car through a small opening, and later I found I had broken my neck,” Jerry said.

After retiring in 2009, Jerry had a pacemaker installed and had a valve replaced in his heart. 

“We were the forerunners of assisted living; we have to assist each other to make it,” Jerry said, as he laughed.