There are times a recalled memory makes you smile, grin, laugh aloud. At other times, the same memory creates tears.
This post is about that type of memory and the learning which followed.
That man. This memory.
There was an event, a memory I have of throwing something at a man in anger—-or extreme irritation.
He was wheelchair bound and ventilator dependent.
I was 29 yrs old and I threw something at him.
It was a pancake.
I was pissed, though a few decades later, I’ve no memory of why the irritation, the anger.
If you have siblings, there may be some nodding understanding.
We were not siblings, though our relationship may be described that way, in the best way, the best kind of sibling who you treat with complete honesty and, in this case, some disrespect!
His reaction is the memory I cherish. The memory that makes me grin, chuckle, weep.
I’ll never forget the look of astonishment and glee on his face as he stated that nobody had ever thrown anything at him, ever. He was delighted!
Our 30 yr friendship began during my first career as a physical therapist. He was one of my home health patients.
About a year after we began working together, he had a recruiting party. He invited us. My husband was in grad school and home during the day with our 2 yr old son and 4 yr old daughter. He was looking for a new set of PCA’s, personal care attendants, to live with him, care for him, and help balance his needs with his nursing care and his life.
While he had numerous physical limitations; couldn’t breathe on his own, wheelchair bound, dependent upon others for all of his movement needs except for his fingers on his computer keyboard and wheelchair joystick for mobility; he worked full time as a software engineer.
We drove away from his party and my husband looked at me and said let’s do this.
For the next 2 yrs, we lived with him with our little children and grew our family by one….him. He told us we needn’t have a 3rd child, we had him. It was a joke, sort of.
For the 25 yrs that followed, we remained dear friends.
Back to that pancake.
It was years before I fully understood his reaction. He was delighted to be treated like any other “normal” irritating little brother.
Delight in life was a perspective he chose.
Much of my work with clients has to do with the understanding of choice. We choose every single reaction we make. Sometimes, we like to think we just responded, perhaps like that pancake throw, but deep down we know that isn’t true.
In my life, nobody taught me more about our power to choose than this dear man. He chose to live his life fully, joyfully, thoughtfully, despite an ongoing loss of abilities and the knowledge that this disease would end his life, eventually.
We get lucky. We meet people who impact our lives in unimaginable positive ways.
We hope to be one of those people who impact others positively.
We work at it.
We smile, laugh, weep at the memories.
Those of us who loved this man will revisit these memories this weekend and throughout the rest of our lives.