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 terminology.

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).