It was a shock to hear about the accident and to realize I actually KNEW the person who had this horrific fall. This was the lady I’d see taking walks around my neighborhood in the summer. She worked at McDonalds where we sometimes stop in for an ice cream cone. She always stopped to chat with us and beam at my kids. Literally, she beams. She’s a delightful person and being paralyzed hasn’t changed that. She still beams. There’s something about her that pulls people in. I haven’t asked much about how she has survived such a life altering event, but I’m curious. I can only begin to imagine all the ways her life has been turned upside down.
I’ve called her a few times on the video phone. I can’t understand everything she says and she can’t control her arms and fingers as well as she’d like. But I can get the gist of what she says. And she has a lot to say. She’ll tell me about trying to sit in the passenger side of the van, but not having enough support to keep her in place so she ended up slumped over. No complaints, just something that she tried that didn’t work out so great. She’ll point out her fingernails- last week they alternated yellow and purple every other finger. No mention of how annoying it must have been to have an aide paint her fingernails, just pure delight in doing something crazy and unexpected with her fingernails.
Over the summer, I made a watercolor card and sent it in mail to her. She’s just down the street and around the corner from my house, but I figured getting real mail would be nice. I have these pencils that give a water color effect when you add water. It’s fun to play around with and gives great results without any precision needed. If I was paralyzed, I know the thing I’d miss the most would be making art. This is pretty much the best possible art idea – scribble with a pencil, then paint with water. In my card, I asked if she wanted to try it with me and the girls. She called me right up and we made an art date.
My girls, my little artists, came with me. They asked questions like “Why didn’t you die when you broke your neck?” and “How do you get up onto your bed?” They noticed the wheels on her bed and the pumpkin decorations around her house. They checked out her bathroom with the walk in shower. We all colored and painted. My friend did the one that was pre-printed and says “Be Brave” in gold lettering. Seemed appropriate. My girls each painted her a picture and gave her hugs on the way out. It was a great day. A great visit. And a beautiful end to my birthday month.
September is my birthday month and I am challenging myself to be intentionally generous, thoughtful, giving towards strangers, people I love and myself throughout the month. My challenge is to find 38 ways to celebrate my 38 years on earth. Some of them might take some planning, some time, some money and others might be things I need to get off my to do list or my “want to do list”. I hope some of them will be spontaneous, mindful moments.
Do you want to see what else I did to celebrate my birthday this year?