“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” ~Newt Gingrich
I would say that the last three weeks of our lives fit Mr. Gingrich’s definition of perseverance pretty well. The hard work has been, well…hard. And you have to do the hard work over and over all day and all night. I never thought of having a broken leg as hard work, but it is—hard work for the person with the broken leg and for the caregivers. And until you have experience with a broken leg, you pretty much don’t think about that at all. Having the “broken leg experience” truly changes your life’s view.
Emma and I have learned the value of a handicapped accessible bathroom. We have said we would never look at people who live in a chair day in and day out the same way. You would be surprised how many people, young and old, stare. You would think no one had ever seen a person in a long leg cast before. I told her we need to make up some crazy story about what happened to her leg, just because what really happened gets old in the repetition. We have learned how important it is to rely on others for help and we have also learned to ask for said help. It is surprisingly hard. We will never take for granted being able to walk to the bathroom unassisted or sitting at the table in a dining room chair or riding rides at Disneyworld or bathing or getting in and out of the car. Living in a long leg cast changes how you do everything. And it changes you.
That said, I am grateful for this experience. Emma might not agree with that statement entirely, and I wish we could have learned the things we are learning without the pain of a broken leg. But I am grateful because of one word: perspective.
Sometimes we need things in our lives to help us view things differently, for God to teach us things, to have a more grateful heart. Emma has had some moments of clarity in this process and so have I.
Last Friday afternoon as we toured around Epcot on her class trip in the wheelchair in the 90+ degree heat, we were looking for a restroom. When we came upon one of those self-contained family restrooms, we opened the door and rolled in. First thing we noticed was the awesome air conditioning. Ahhhhh! So nice! Then Emma said, “Look! Bars on the wall! And we can roll right up beside the toilet and I can just transfer!” (She was very excited.) We got her situated and I sat down in the wheelchair to wait for her. I looked over at the sink. “Look, Emma! A sink that you can roll all the way under and wash your hands!!” I said to her, “Think about people who live in a chair every day of their lives and are always in need of accessibility.” She said, “I know, Mom. Here we are at Epcot, at Disneyworld, and we are all excited about the bathroom and just wanting to stay in here!” We had a good laugh. It is amazing the things you get excited about when you have a different perspective.
I know our experience is temporary and things are getting progressively easier. I know in the scheme of things, it could be so much worse. This is not life or death. But I know that I am changed because of it and I know that the lessons Emma has learned are ones she will carry with her forever.
Perseverance. Perspective. They are life changing lessons.
“ …we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)