A source of strength

A source of strength
"Behind every great man, there is a great woman."

– Dictionary of American Proverbs

Tim Johnson said it with more than words.


During a portion of his homecoming speech in Sioux Falls, he thanked everyone on his medical team who have helped him come from near death last December to a status today that will allow him to return to the floor of the U.S. Senate next month.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to a great many doctors, nurses and therapists that brought me through the darkest moments of my life," the senator said. "I have received top notch care, but I know I have more hours to log with them and more inches and yards to gain."

This truly is a time for all of South Dakota to rejoice. Naturally, we can't help but feel we have a corner on that market here in Vermillion.

Tim is our native son; his successes have been our successes. Last December was a devastating time to many people who grew up with the senator, attended school with him, served in the Legislature with him and simply chummed around with him.

He is, quite simply, one of us – a friend, a compatriot, a familiar presence here in South Dakota, who always made a point to travel from Washington, DC to all corners of the state to listen to constituents.

When he was silenced by an arteriovenous malformation last December, we at first were alarmed. But by early this year, miracles were happening. His health was improving so rapidly that eventually he was booted out of his hospital room and moved to a rehabilitation center.

After several weeks of hard work there, he was allowed to return to his home located outside of Washington, and make routine trips to the rehab center to work on physical and speech therapy.

It's natural to assume that Tim's steadfast work ethic and composure is responsible for all that he has accomplished these past nine months.

After all, he is of good South Dakota stock, a product of our plains who has adapted to face a variety of challenges that just seem to be a normal part of life here.

Just to be fair, however, let's shine the spotlight on another individual who has helped Tim Johnson become the man he is today.

This person no doubt leads the list of all the individuals responsible for his fantastic recovery. She knows Tim better than all of his doctors, nurses and therapists combined.

Tuesday, the two communicated with each other without uttering a word. All that was needed was a familiar, loving glance.

Their eyes said it all.

"Barbara has been the biggest and most important part of my life for more than 40 years," Tim said Tuesday. "I cannot describe the love I have for this special woman. She has always been there for me.

"She has always been my rock to lean on. I thank God every day for Barbara. I am a very lucky man to have her by my side."

We, too, are grateful that our senior senator is married to such a wonderful woman. Not only has she graciously shared her husband with all of South Dakota for three decades.

She is also helping him heal after some very dark days last December. Tim's return to the state and to the floor of the U.S. Senate can be credited to Barbara's loving strength.

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