I met a man. He was walking out of the YMCA so slowly I wasn’t sure he was even moving. His legs, arms and crutches were facing so many directions, I almost held my breath as I approached for fear of toppling him. I said a hello & walked inside. Several minutes later, I came back out to see he had only moved a few steps ahead of where I left him. His body was bent and straining under the effort of walking and his gray hair was damp from the rain.
Looking around I wondered why there was no one pulling up to pick him up or assisting him. Surely someone was waiting on him. I asked if I could help him and he kindly said I could hold his crutches once he got to the car. Several long moments later we reached his van and as I prepared to open the slider door for him, he reached for the drivers door…and expertly maneuvered himself into the seat, readying himself to drive. I know my mouth was hanging open and all I could think of to say was “You’re really good at that!” to which he replied “I’ve had 60 plus years of cerebral palsy to get good at it.” He then went on to explain that due to a doctors horrible call during his mother’s labor, he had been born with this condition.
And this, I confess is where I start to cry. He said that he was somewhat bitter but not so bitter as to give up. He had considered suicide but knew that he didn’t want to meet his maker having not done what he was meant to do. He had wanted to give up many times but he learned why he was here. He said- “I’m here to tell you and others to get off your damn couches and stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something!”
This man is retired yet works two days at Walmart, even though he has to get up at 2:00am to get himself ready. He goes to the gym to walk which is in and of itself a huge effort. He lives on his own & cooks his own meals. Although he admits to worrying he will fall while cooking sometimes, he refuses to waste money hiring when he can do it himself. He is a man with more strength in his broken body and purpose in his eyes than a hundred young, fit, successful men. He is living a purposeful life!
He just kept saying “Please share my story! People need to know if I can do this, they can! People with disabilities and without. People need to stop being lazy!” He said “I’m not upset at God. He showed me my purpose. I want you to share my story.”
And now I have.