“If It Weren’t for Him, I Probably Wouldn’t Be Alive”

For years, Michael Clark earned his living cooking and baking food.  But a massive stroke in 2007 abruptly altered his life.   “I was in the hospital for months.  It took me two months just to learn my own name,” Mr. Clark says.  After being discharged from the hospital, he quickly realized he was unable to tackle the daily rituals of everyday life.  “I couldn’t cook because I was afraid I was going to drop a pan of grease on me,” says Mr. Clark. He also suffered violent seizures which came with little warning.  “I was in really bad shape,” he recalls.

A concerned neighbor notified Adult Protective Services, which determined Mr. Clark desperately needed help. That’s how he met Jose Perez almost a decade ago.  Mr. Perez works for HAND, the in-home care division of Meals on Wheels Central Texas, as a personal care attendant and he quickly became an indispensable part of his new client’s life.  During the first two years, he helped Mr. Clark with “transfers from the bed to the chair, showers, dressing him and feeding him, because he couldn’t do anything.”  He also worked diligently with Mr. Clark on his physical rehabilitation, which resulted in Mr. Clark slowly regaining some of his balance. 

Things are a bit easier these days for Michael Clark.  Mr. Perez still comes by every morning to cook him breakfast, do some laundry or a bit of grocery shopping.  He’s learned to tell when Mr. Clark’s about to have a seizure and helps him in advance.  “He is a part of my family now because we spend so much time together every day,” Mr. Perez says.

Mr. Clark also receives other services from Meals on Wheels Central Texas, including daily nutritious lunches delivered by dedicated volunteers.  “They’re real nice and real helpful,” he says of the folks who bring him his meals.

But he saves his highest praise for Jose Perez:  “I realize I can’t do stuff like I used to do and that’s hard.  But with having his help, it’s been easier to transition.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  He did a lot of things for me that I wouldn’t do for my own mother, to be honest with you.  If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be alive.”