August 30, 2002
August 30, 2002
It is not what's happened to you that's important, but how you handle what's
happened to you, that counts.
My deceased son-in-law, JD, who was disabled, personified the above
statement. His life and death motivated and inspired people. The only way
he was able to walk was to swing himself and his braces on his crutches.
Disabled parking areas were for the disabled, not for him. He knew that
disability stems from the attitude that one holds in life not, from any
restriction that prevents normal functioning. If he encountered stairs, he
used his crutches to jump up or down the stairs, practically hurling himself
into action. However if there were whole staircases he requested my daughter
to hold his feet as he “walked 'up the steps on his hands. They called it
the wheel barrel.
He received a liver transplant that didn't take, and lapsed into a coma for a
week. When he came out of it he was no longer able to speak and was totally
paralyzed. He was sent for rehabilitation. The doctors thought him mentally
deficient, due to the lack of oxygen to his brain, until playing a computer
game with the therapist, he won! A cat scan had shown a hole in his brain
that the physicians puzzled over why he was ever able to even function, even
before. He regained halting speech and returned to ambulating nearly as well
as before the transplant operation. However, the weight of the braces
created internal stress, a series of operations followed, and he fell into
another coma. Only to revive and return to the same difficult struggle of
learning to walk and talk again.
Long before, at nineteen years of age an operation on his heart left him
completely paralyzed. He had combated and recovered from that challenge,
only to have another accident within a year, put him in braces for the rest
of his life.
His entire life was a struggle. His legs looked like pipe cleaners. There
were no muscles left, but he ran a business even though he had many other
dysfunction's that caused embarrassing situations. “I cant 'was not even a
part of his vocabulary. He motivated his employees who saw him as a whole
person not a cripple. He cringed if someone referred to him with that
His most important goal in life was to make people laugh and be happy.
Certainly my daughters twenty year marriage was a testimony to that. One day
my daughter called me to say that she wondered what that wood block was under
his arm, only to realize that it was his crutches! Looking at their wedding
picture one day, I also had the same illusion and awareness.
In the hospital, he said to one of the nurses, “When I recover, I'm going to
invite everyone to Hawaii for a huge party.” The nurse said,”Oh, I didn't
know you were a millionaire.” He smiled and said, “Who said that it was
going to be free? I'm a business man.” His contagious, hearty, laughter
merged with hers.
During his life, patients were encouraged by his perseverance. If he could
do it, so could they. Nurses and physical therapists mourned his passing and
sent personal letters to my daughter about how JD inspired them.
JD is the perfect example of taking the worst of life's offerings and making
them an exciting challenge.
It is not the situation, but how we react to the situation that is important.
Review your life. Search for the positive and capitalize on those areas.
Restructure and realign your attitudes. Enjoy whatever benefits you have in
life. Cherish them. Throw in some humor to get past the jagged edges. Care
about humanity and the likelihood is that they will honor you, also. Learn
from JD, the master of that technique.( He died at age 43).