"Straighten your elbow," exhorts Pat. "Get that right shoulder down all the way. That's good. O.K., better."
Ed eyes her and says, "Lighten up." She ignores him and offers him a granola bar. "Low class," he says. But he cats it.
"Elbow straight, Ed," she continues.
"Calm yourself," he says.
"Stand up straight," says Pat. Ed immediately breaks out into his Heritage High School fight song: "Stand up, be proud...." He works. He pauses and looks at his constant companion, Bridget, a nine-year-old golden retriever. Bridget is lying on the floor, which is what she does best. "You're lazy, Bridget," Ed says. Then he looks at a poster of a swimsuit model on the wall and sighs. He returns to sweating.
Progress is at times snail-paced, incremental. "People tell me how great he's doing," says Pat, "but then I see him put his shirt on backward." She laughs, but she is near tears.
The other day Pat took Ed to a nearby recreation center for a workout. Before going she put money in his gym bag to pay for the visit. Usually he cannot remember that he has the money when he is asked for it. This time he remembered. Pat's eyes welled up. Ed rowed 4,200 meters and rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes (six miles). He moved through the various machines—the pullover, leg extension, chest press. Pat is her son's personal trainer, cheerleader and guru. She urged more when Ed was exhausted, and he said to an onlooker, "Women. Can't live with 'em. Pass the beer nuts."
Pat ignored that. "You," she said, "are going to do this because you can do this." And he did. With vigor.
Ed is now in his second year as an assistant coach of the women's basketball team at Metro State College in Denver. He is there every day during the season. For the past three years he has also been volunteering twice a week at an elementary school, working with the physed teacher and the students. One day a few weeks ago, Ed wanted to go to a softball batting cage. He had never been to one. A longtime volunteer, Phil Smith, worked to get Ed's right hand around the bat. Confronted by a task he had never performed, and fighting double vision, a right arm that works improperly, a shaking right leg and the glare of the sun directly in his eyes, Ed took a swing at each of the 16 balls pitched to him by the machine. He missed them all. "Pretty good," he said. He sat down, rested and watched the other batters. Then he went back to the batting cage—and connected with 11 of 16 pitches. It was a perfect example of an athlete at work. "Pretty good," he said.
Ed and his mother are at the Easter Seals building in Lakewood for speech and computer training with a teacher named Maureen Melonis. Ed's task is to write a thank-you note on the computer to a woman who sent him $10.