Labor’s Day

September 7, 2009

3040475_blog

When I was a kid, Labor Day was always a different kind of Holiday around my house.  My mom and dad took the day’s name literally and we Labored all Day.

I would be in my yard digging, weeding, or mowing while I watched my friends all pass by on their way to the lake, the river, or the movies to have some fun.  Countless times I tried to explain to my parents that other people were spending the day having fun and that the name of the holiday could be taken more figuratively.

It didn’t make any difference, and every year my brothers and sister continued laboring and our friends and their families continued celebrating the holiday the more traditional way.

What I didn’t realize until much later was that my parents really were treating the day like a holiday.  They weren’t using Labor Day to cheat us from opportunity; they were using the day to teach us how to work.  It didn’t matter that we were working on Labor Day (Ko, Cole and I are going to the pool today), what mattered was that my parents taught us how to work.

As I left home I began to see that this isn’t something every kid has the opportunity to understand.  I started to realize that all those days we spent doing chores, working in the yard, or cleaning the kitchen helped me to know the value of a hard days work—and that that understanding in itself was a precious commodity.

I learned that you could control your own destiny and build your own success if you know how to work.  Additionally, I found that all of the of the other things that can bring success that can’t be controlled directly though work (i.e. who you know, right place right time) can at least be influenced through a person’s willingness to be fully engaged.  I was taught that by working hard, I could make my own luck.

I was also taught to value the feeling that comes from knowing you put in a hard days work.

After my auto accident I spent literal years of my life lying in bed.  Interestingly, I found that during that time one of the tings that I missed most was that feeling of pleasure that comes no other way than from the knowledge that you gave your all.  That feeling you get after working all day, be it at your job, in the yard, around the house, and you finally sit down on the couch and you know that you put everything you had into the days objective.

I would have people come to visit me in the hospital complaining about their job, complaining about their work, and I would be so jealous that they had a place to put their day’s labors—that they had the opportunity to work.

I’m grateful my mom and dad taught me how to work.  It’s a commodity that is more and more becoming difficult to find and in short supply. I’m grateful for those difficult days in the hospital when I learned that it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work hard.

This Labor Day (whether we are laboring or not) let’s remember that hard work is a blessing and that some of the greatest opportunities in our lives come from good old-fashioned hard work.

Jh-


Freedom

July 4, 2009
Independence Day

Independence Day

On this Fourth of July people’s minds begin to turn to their freedoms. They begin to think about how grateful they are to live in a country where they can live, act, and worship freely.

I too am grateful for these freedoms. I am grateful for the price paid by so many to allow me to have those freedoms. Often, I think it becomes easy to forget that the freedoms we sometimes so easily take for granted can, if were not careful, be taken away.

On July 13, 1986 I very nearly lost my freedom.

I was involved in a diving accident that caused me to become a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. So many things were taken from me that day. Many of them were simple and basic freedoms. Like the freedom to feed myself. The freedom to get around without a wheelchair. The freedom to get in and out of bed on my own. The freedom to bathe, shave and dress myself.

Then, on the 21st of November, a car accident took even more freedoms.

But truth be told, through it all, some pretty incredible people have allowed me to keep the freedoms that matter most.

After my diving accident, friends sent me pictures that reminded me of their love and support. Along with the posters they also sent, those photos were plastered all over my room. These good people reminded me that I was free to be a part of their lives, and free to let their support lift me up when I felt down.

Good Friends

Good Friends

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

During both accidents, and through any other little bump in the road, my family continues to support me all the way. They made it clear that I was free to be a part of a family all my days on the earth. They reminded me that I was free to dream; free to go and do anything my mind believed that I could achieve. They  taught me I was free to ignore the negativity that so often others tried to surround me with.

Good Support

Good Support

Good Fun

Good Fun

Literally, weeks into meeting Kolette she let me know that I was free to expect the same kind of relationship that able bodied young men did. From the moment we were wed, she showed me that unconditional love was also a freedom I could count on. The moment she stood in that emergency room after the car accident she made it abundantly clear that her dedication was a freedom I could never lose. Throughout my life Kolette has taught me that I’m alway free to love life.

Good Love

Good Love

Good Times

Good Times

Now, Coleman’s innocent eyes seemed to communicate that I’m free to love and be loved in return. Over and over, he reminds me that I’m free to try and, although things may not always work out the way I’d planned, we are free to figure things out on our own. We may not get things on our first try, and when we do get them, it may not always be pretty, but he allows us the freedom to find our own rhythm and our own path.

Good Boy

Good Boy

I know there are others who aren’t as lucky as I. I know that there are many in my situation who simply go home from the hospital and stay there. I know one young man whose family brought him home from the hospital after his diving accident, built him a large bay window, and every day sat him in front of that window. He ended up spending every day of what ended up to be a very short life literally “watching the world go by.”

So on this day of celebrating freedom, I celebrate mine. As I do so, I celebrate the countless numbers of people who have helped me to fight for the freedom I have, and so I celebrate them as well. I celebrate the freedom my future holds.

I celebrate life.

Jh-

Two weeks before my accident

Two weeks before my accident


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.