Minneapolis driver's seizure ends on and with a good note

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 5, 2014 - 5:48 AM

Man with brain cancer and his wife are thankful for the mystery hero who left word of their car’s location in northeast Minneapolis.

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Aaron Purmort, who is battling stage 4 brain cancer, with wife Nora and son Ralph.

Photo: Lindsay May Photography,

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It had been more than two years since Aaron Purmort had a seizure — until Friday, when it happened again. Purmort, 34, remembers driving in northeast Minneapolis, toward home. Then nothing.

In the minutes between awareness and the ambulance, somebody helped him. There’s evidence: A simple note folded and tucked in his jacket pocket.

“Your car is parked in the tobacco shop parking lot at 18th Av NE and Stinson,” it says.

Purmort’s wife, Nora, posted a photo of it on Facebook, with their thanks.

“We have no idea who called 911 or moved our car to safety … but we sure are grateful for them and their Minnesota spirit,” she wrote beneath the photo, which has been shared more than 3,000 times. “You saved my husband and that is pretty damn rad.”

That mix of public gratitude and plucky humor is pretty typical of the Minneapolis couple, who first met on Twitter, when they worked at advertising firms. In the two years since Aaron was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, the Purmorts have blogged the brain scans, chemotherapy and Jell-O pukes.

Intertwined is their love story — the kind where engagement promises are made in hospital beds.

“No ring,” wrote Nora in a 2012 post. “Just a promise that beats in our hearts and fills our lungs and strengthens our bones: Forever.”

The first seizure came in October 2011, not long after the couple began dating. A diagnosis. A surgery. They were married “one month to the day after he had his skull sawed open,” Nora, 31, said Tuesday. She got pregnant when he was “six rounds deep into what would become two years of chemotherapy.”

A month after a second brain surgery, Aaron was in the delivery room for the birth of their son. Same clinic.

That clinic has been such a constant backdrop to their relationship that it’s become a punch line. “It’s our little spot,” Aaron joked Tuesday evening over butternut squash soup his mother made. “So romantic!” Nora said, grabbing his hand.

Their son, Ralph, is now 13 months old. Small-featured, he looks a lot like his father.

“Having Ralph is the greatest thing ever,” Aaron said Tuesday, turning toward him in his high chair, soup strewn across his bib.

Nora’s blog is called My Husband’s Tumor, but in many ways, “this tumor is really a bit player in our lives,” Nora said. “It’s almost sort of easy to forget.”

On Friday, for example, Aaron was supposed to be home “by 5 at the latest,” Nora said. When the baby sitter called, Nora was mad. She didn’t think about a seizure or tumor. Instead, she assumed Aaron was hanging out with his co-workers playing foosball, she said. “He answers his phone and I’m like, ‘Where the hell are you?’ ”

Turns out he was in the back of an ambulance, groggy and confused.

After tests at the hospital, “somehow the question came up, did I even have my keys?” Aaron said. Nora found them in his coat pocket along with a half sheet from a legal pad, carefully folded. “Whose phone number is this?” she joked.

The car was in the parking lot, as promised.

The couple didn’t post the note to sleuth out who might have written it. “It was more to say, ‘Thank you,’ to whoever — not even knowing if it would ever find them,” Aaron said. “It was just a really kind thing for them to do.”

It might have been an EMT who moved the car and wrote the note, Nora noted. “Even if was just somebody doing their job,” she said, “it’s really, really meaningful.”

Because Aaron was driving on New Brighton Boulevard, “not a quiet street, by any means,” Nora is thankful that no one was hurt. She wonders if he happened to be stopped at a light. “Most people would just honk and drive around,” she said.

Aaron himself is “patient and kind even with strangers,” a trait that came long before the cancer, Nora said. “That is something he would do for somebody else,” she said. “He deserves such a thing to happen to him.”

 

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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