Charlie Golson was home for Christmas — if only in his dreams.
It was only a visit, but he was there in the rambling old house on the May River on Bluffton’s magestic Myrtle Island. He even helped cook Christmas dinner for the family.
But the popular Hilton Head Island chef, who remains unable to walk after being stricken earlier this year with a mysterious infection along his spine, was gone five hours later. He was back at NHC HealthCare in Bluffton, where nurses and physical therapists are pushing and shoving him down the slow road to recovery that he’s confident will have him up and walking again.
“They’re hopeful for getting him up and onto a walker in the next few months,” his wife, Nancy Golson, said this week.
Since their ordeal started in June, the family has been flooded with support for Charlie.
From where it all began, it seems like a Christmas miracle.
Charlie was rushed to Hilton Head Hospital, and a few days later was flown to the intensive care unit at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he could not breathe or eat on his own. That long stay was followed by two months of rehabilitation “boot camp” at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. After “graduating” with a certificate of “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day” he got to go “home” to Bluffton for more rehab at NHC in October.
Once in the right ZIP code, he pronounced himself “damn close to walking.”
His attitude remains positive, and Nancy said he’s making steady progress.
Now he can take his heels and pull himself down the hall in his wheelchair.
“That’s a big deal,” Nancy said, “because that left leg still isn’t moving right.”
For three days around Christmas, their children rented a special van to get Charlie home to Myrtle Island. Their home, built around 1919, has been upgraded with a lift, and the kitchen was remodeled to be roomier.
“He loved being in the kitchen,” Nancy said. “He chopped up onions and celery, and helped (his son) Palmer cook a prime rib.”
They had Christmas dinner in the old two-car garage, which has been renovated into “the cook shed.” They added a very French fireplace that he can cook in, and it soon will have the wood cookstove Charlie wanted for this rustic, homey family hangout.
Nancy said the hardest part of Christmas was going to the Christmas Eve service alone. It’s something she and Charlie have done together almost every year for the past 41 years.
But she was uplifted by the homily at the Episcopal church in Savannah. It took a line from a Beatles song, “Let it Be,” to illustrate how the teenager Mary reacted to the earth-shattering news from an angel about her baby.
Nancy said it also illustrates her life in 2017.
“Let it be what it is, and keep going,” she said.