November 25, 2003
Wife, choir, faith in God give music minister strength to battle sudden illness
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Larry Kulcke wasn’t feeling great on a recent Sunday. Instead of directing the 120-member choir at Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Jackson, as he’s done for the last 17 years, he was sitting in a hospital bed with more than a few unanswered questions about his health.
He agreed when his wife, Tavie, suggested they take a stroll through the halls of Methodist Rehabilitation Center. Instead of going to the first floor atrium, she convinced him to go to the fourth floor.
As he came off the elevator and rounded the corner in his wheelchair, he heard familiar voices. Lots of familiar voices.
More than 120 members of the choir were standing in the therapy gym, singing praises to God in support of their beloved director. They sang to him and he directed them for a few songs, followed by the weekly service conducted by hospital Chaplain Bruns Myers.
“It was really special,” the soft-spoken minister of music said later.
It was just four weeks earlier that he woke up at his Jackson home and realized he couldn’t move. Both he and Tavie thought he had had a stroke. She managed to get him in the car and made a frantic drive to a local hospital, the same drive she made three years earlier when he had a heart attack.
This time, his illness would not be so easy to diagnose.
He spent two weeks in the hospital, half of that in intensive care, and then was moved to Methodist Rehab. Two tests ruled out West Nile virus, and now doctors at Methodist Rehab believe he has a form of viral meningitis though they’re still uncertain about the origin of it.
Dr. Rhondel McCann said Kulcke has months, rather than weeks, of therapy ahead of him, but she is optimistic. “With his motivation, his positive outlook and all the wonderful support he has, he’s going to do well,” she said.
He has been in a wheelchair for the last several weeks undergoing physical and occupational therapy. He has movement in his legs though he still can’t walk, but he’s encouraged by the progress he’s made so far.
“I’ve come a long way. It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t turn over in bed,” Kulcke said.
Along with his goal of walking, Kulcke is ready to get back to work. He is focused on directing the choir for the church’s annual Christmas production.
The production is Dec. 12-15 and he plans to be there, wheelchair and all, to direct as much of it as he can.
For years, he and Tavie have been a team, directing and coordinating the massive program that includes more than 230 people. He compiles and directs the music and she writes and directs the drama. In fact, she’s been by his side during his entire hospital stay, leaving only to go to drama practice, and occasionally do a little laundry.
“We’ve been together 43 wonderful years,” she said. In that time they have weathered many storms together and are confident they will make it through this latest battle.
“I’ve had some low moments, but I’ve never doubted God’s plan for me,” Larry said. “I do get tired, but we know that God is doing new work in us and in our choir. Our motto through all this has been, ‘God will get us through, not somehow, but triumphantly.’”