At this time 4 years ago, I was in a wheelchair after rupturing both quads playing soccer. I went through surgery to re-attach the muscles and couldn’t put any weight on either leg for weeks. The occupational therapists (OTs) did a great job teaching me how get to dressed and undressed. They had a special tool to help me put on my own socks. The OTs also taught me how to slide from my bed to the wheelchair, slide from a wheelchair to the toilet and slide from my wheelchair to the passenger seat of my car. I was determined to go to the Outer Banks with my family for Thanksgiving that year.
We rent a three-story house with 7 bedrooms. The entire family can come. Unfortunately, the house has no elevators so the occupational therapists had to teach me how to slide from my car to the front steps and then push myself up with my arms one step at a time on my butt. By the time I got to the third floor after going up all those steps I was worn out. My daughter, Dannielle and her husband Kevin wanted to put me on a plastic sled. One would pull the sled and the other would push it. I decided against it. I had a bad feeling one of them would say, “I thought you had him.”
I bounced down the steps once a day to take a ride to the beach, the shops or dinner. Dannielle was awesome at pushing me around in the wheelchair on the boardwalk. Sometimes the boardwalk extended on to the beach. With Thanksgiving approaching I am thankful for many things. I will never take for granted simple things like walking up and down steps, walking or running on the beach, driving a car or making my own cup of coffee. I like my independence. I have empathy and a much greater appreciation of people with mobility issues. I was surprised when I was in a wheelchair how many wheelchair accessible buildings really weren’t. One walkway to a building was so steep I couldn’t do it on my own. It was a struggle for Lynnda to get me up and down the hill.
After running my first 5K five months after occupational therapy, I returned to the hospital to personally thank the therapists. I’m thankful for family, friends and the opportunity to spend quality time with my children and grandchildren. Sometimes we don’t get do overs in life. Children and grandchildren grow up fast. Enjoy them and spend time with them. Our family has lots of vacation photos and stories. We were blessed to be able to see some of Gregory and Dannielle’s college soccer games even though it was four hours way. Their college years seemed to fly by. We make it a point to see as many of our grandchildren’s life events as possible. If business takes us close to our children or grandchildren we are visiting like we did recently to see our great-granddaughter in Virginia.
Sometimes it is the little things we may think are insignificant that make the biggest difference. When I was a corporate manager I routinely visited employees if they were in the hospital for any reason. I learned years later they still recalled those visits. After her serious car accident Lynnda struggled. She was tired and listless. Then her best friend from her Navy days called. Lynnda was suddenly wide awake and talkative. What a difference a phone call can make. It raised her spirits. When I was in the hospital, Lynnda was there when I needed her. The kids all visited along with friends. When the doctors were trying to decide what to do with my legs and the infection after Lynnda left one evening I was really depressed. When I needed it most, the coach called with our entire high school soccer team after practice. We did the after-practice cheer together. My spirits lifted. What an incredible blessing!
Don’t wait for tomorrow. Seize those special moments now with family and friends. Invest your time with those you love. Tell them you love them. They need to hear it! Show your gratitude. Life can change in an instant. Sometimes we don’t get a second chance. The day of Lynnda’s serious car accident
I called her at work on my way home and told her I loved her. I didn’t expect the next time I saw her would be when her car was on its top in the middle of the road. We were blessed with support of family, friends and great doctors. Sunday morning after the accident Lynnda was in the ICU with an open gash on her head and a broken neck. She couldn’t move. A team of doctors came in to check her out. They were doing a lot of slow walking and low talking. As they were leaving Lynnda whispered, “Doc”. The head doctor had to put his ear over Lynnda’s mouth to hear her. She whispered, “We have a trip to Disney World with the grandchildren planned for the middle of next month. Is there any reason I can’t go?” The doctor laughed. I told him I had plane tickets. He smiled, “No problem.”
I recognized one of the doctors. The young man looked at me, “Do you remember me coach?” I responded, “Nathan, I will never forget you!” Nathan scored the goal in our 1999 State Soccer Semi-final game that put us in our first ever State Championship game. Nathan understood the power of a dream. He was Lynnda’s doctor that week. One month later I took a picture of Lynnda in front of the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World with our oldest granddaughter.
This Thanksgiving share your time and gratitude with those you love. Your time is one of your most valuable gifts. Let people know you love them!
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.