Sometime in the weeks after Judy Pitman had a hemorrhagic stroke, from which she wasn't expected to recover, she believes she met her guardian angel.
It was a woman dressed in white who stayed with her for a long time, holding her hand and sometimes crying. She went away for a while but always returned. Pitman can still see her face, she said, although it is no one she knows.
"Then I gradually started to come out of it," she said.
Her recovery was long, and though the stroke happened in 2010, she still has physical therapy and uses a walker to get around. Only in the last six months has she begun to trust her judgment again.
But what she most remembers is her hunger for human touch.
"My children are very caring, loving and generous, but were afraid to touch me," she said. "They thought I'd break. What I really, really needed was somebody to hold me."
It's one of the things she wants to discuss with other people who have had strokes, and with their friends and family members, in a support group for stroke and other brain-injury patients, she said.
Pitman's husband and one of her best friends died months after her stroke, and she had to give her dog to a friend for fear she couldn't care for it. She lives in Victorian Towers senior housing in Cape May now and is dating Dennis Callaghan, a neighbor who walked with her to help her recover.
"There so desperately needs to be more education," Pitman said. "It's so important (friends and family members) hear the different ways in which they are needed."
Hunger on the menu
Ron C. Kollman Sr., executive director of Chefs With a Mission; Ron Caro, assistant professor of education at Richard Stockton College and director of Teacher Training With a Mission; and Diane Riley, director of Advocacy for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, will discuss hunger issues at a forum sponsored by the FoodBank and Stockton.
The discussion follows a free screening of "A Place at the Table," a documentary about food insecurity in America, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Richard Stockton College, Townsend Residential Life Center, 101 Vera King Farris Drive in Galloway. Register at 609-383-8843.
If you go
Stroke/Brain Injury Support Group for people with brain injury and their families at Cape Regional Medical Center 1 p.m. Thursday. Call Bonnie Kratzer at 609-463-4043.