Halton Hills Newspapers

Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 3 Sep 2020, p. 7

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7 | The IFP -H alton H ills | T hursday,S eptem ber 3,2020 theifp.ca The belugas aren't the only ones smiling! ®® We are extending our promotion! Until September 7th, enjoy a FREE Fun Card season's pass upgrade for the price of a general admission ticket. Buy online today! For more information visit www.marineland.ca ®® et. tickadmission tors weren't sure he was going to make it. His parents and brothers rushed to Quebec to be at his bed- side and hope for a miracle. When he finally woke up, it quickly became apparent that not only had all of the memories of the first 22 years of his life been wiped out of his mind, but he also couldn't remember how to talk, walk or identify anyone or any- thing. "I had to use a wheelchair until I learned to walk again. I couldn't even name an animal, colour or shape," he said. Amazingly, one precious thing had stuck with him -- his re- collection of song lyrics. "Music was a great tool for me, a great gift. I didn't forget any of the music that I'd ever heard," he said. "My family could play my old re- cords, and I'd be singing along, but when it stopped I'd be like, 'Who are you?'" Discovering everything all over again as an adult was a strange process, said McMurray, who felt almost like an alien who had been dropped into an intense place called earth. "Being introduced to the world again in 1995 as a 22-year-old 'in- fant'... It's crazy, it's insane," he said. "Twenty five years ago, I was thinking, 'What's red? Is red a col- our, or an animal, or a fruit, or a vegetable? What's a vegetable?'" Memory: it's something we rely on daily and often take for granted. But Georgetown's Jonathan McMurray knows just how pre- cious and fleeting memory can be as he looks back on the day his mind was permanently altered by a traumatic injury. A quarter century has passed since the local man escaped a brush with death, only to be left with no recollection whatsoever of his life before that moment. "It's a crazy story," he said. "At that time, it was so unreal and un- believable to me, I thought that my life was a movie. I was looking for the cameras." It was August 29, 1995, and McMurray was driving with friends through Quebec, on his way back to finish his fourth year at Acadia University in Nova Sco- tia. "It was late at night, close to midnight, and it was my turn to sleep," he said. "So I was sleeping in the back seat, with no seatbelt on because I was laying down. Then a tire popped and the car flipped. I was ejected and landed on my head." McMurray was rushed to the hospital, where he spent a week in a coma. In those early days, doc- But being in the hospital for a prolonged period and seeing the hardships of others gave McMur- ray a new perspective on life -- to live in the now and not dwell on what might have been. "I can't change the past; I can't un-pop the tire. It is what it is, and you have to move on," he said. "I just try to be as present as possible and pay attention to what's hap- pening now because that's what you can change." The long road to recovery went on for years, and McMurray might tell you the "reconstruction pro- ject" of his mind is still going on to this day as he strives to learn new things. His memory still isn't the great- est, and he often keeps track of dai- ly routines by making notes in his phone or on a notepad. He strug- gles with a condition known as vi- sual agnosia, where he can't al- ways recognize someone or some- thing just by looking at them. But for those who just meet the Georgetown native, they would be hard-pressed to tell he had ever been through such an ordeal. McMurray is married with two children and leads a typical subur- ban life, becoming a familiar face to many as he works at the local Beer Store. He's written a book about his experience, called Mind the Gap, and dreams of seeing it turned into a movie one day. Now, he's ready to celebrate what he calls his other birthday -- the day he woke up in the hospital, September 4, 1995. "I had to start over again from scratch that day, so it's kind of like I'm 25," he said. "Twenty five is a big one. I think I'll buy myself a beer." For more on McMurray's expe- rience visit jonathanmcmurray- .com. NEWS 'IT'S A CRAZY STORY' MELANIE HENNESSEY mhennessey@metroland.com Jonathan McMurray celebrates the day he woke up from a coma - September 4, 1995 - as his other birthday. Melanie Hennessey/Torstar "Being introduced to the world again in 1995 as a 22-year-old 'infant'. It's crazy, it's insane." - Jonathan McMurray MCMURRAY SHARES LONG ROAD BACK TO RECOVERY AFTER CRASH-INDUCED MEMORY LOSS

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