Choosing Joy

His bubbling charmer of a mom, a pal since 3rd grade of my wife, Dianne. Real pals. Real longevity. Real sharing of hills and valleys of life. Judy’s greatest joy was her Hollywood handsome son. More than the apple of her eye, he was the anchor of her life.

That life changed immeasurably–as did his–when the dark night phone call advised her the black icy road had catapulted her son’s car into a massive tree. She was told he was alive and rushed to the hospital, where the frightening Q word came at her with the breath squeezing impact of a tornado. QUADRAPLEGIC. Judy could barely pronounce the odd word, let alone comprehend it.

Her son, laying inert on the hospital bed, asked only one question, “Was anyone else hurt?”  That very question characterized the way this 26-year-old would conquer the obstacles facing someone locked into the confines of a wheelchair.

Over time his devoted mom, the dear pal of my wife, fell ill and passed away. Since our summer home is just a few hour drive from that now more than middle age man, we made an appointment to visit with him. He has his own apartment in a string of red brick single floor homes all occupied by disabled residents. We arrived at his front door which opened without a hand touch by either of us–but from an internal control button he could maneuver from his limited yet usable right hand.

When we entered, his smile lit the room. His strikingly handsome face pulled into puckered lips to kiss Dianne. He lifted his hand from the electric control on the wheelchair to shake my hand in welcome. It was my first time to meet Craig although Dianne had spoken often about him and his mother. We ordered lunch from his favorite spot to be delivered. Over that delicious delight I listened to their warm memories conversation. It was animated-filled with rolling laughter and included his detailed description of a life in a wheelchair. He spoke admiringly of the attendants who came every day to prepare him for that day. He described with pride his work as a transportation asset for a company furnishing movement for the blind and disabled.

Those few hours with Craig as he spoke with such precision about his life “before the accident,” as well as his journey choices since that life altering icy road night, were 120 minutes of enrichment. Craig beamed with personality and genuine positivity. He illuminates every moment. His focus is on the joy pebbles of his life road, not the barriers which preoccupy less challenged folk. I will let his joy choice lessons occupy my every moment of this day.  May your own mind allow the joy choice of Craig’s example to lubricate the wheels of your life path.

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