Alexi is 15 years old now. When my husband and I started dating, Alexi was less than two years old. The first time I met Alexi my future mother in law was holding him in her arms. I walked over with Mel so he could introduce me to his mom when suddenly Alexi flopped over into my arms! It was so unexpected that I almost toppled over trying not to drop him! Mel's mom was speechless! Mel was pretty shocked too as Alexi was very shy around strangers. The rest of the week Alexi was attached at the hip to me. Well whatever hip was left after Jess and Chris got done fighting over it!
I honestly do not remember Alexi not ever being in my life; his sweet spirit, shy smile and loving nature. When Mel and I got married Alexi was surrounded by older brothers who catered to his every whim. They played with him, read to him and loved him unconditionally. With so much pampering you would think he would have gotten a little spoiled. Yet his mellow disposition was always the norm.
After Jess moved in to live with us, Alexi started having challenges in school. Eventually he came to live with us as well when he was in the fifth grade. Once he got into a routine at our house he quickly became his old mellow self.
Alexi has an amazing way of analyzing things at times. I think he gets that from his dad. From a very young age he could take deep worldly concepts and explain them in the simplest, child-like ways. The funny thing is I do not think he realized how big of a deal what he was doing was!
Alexi is a gifted athlete as well. When he was small I would take him to the soccer field with me while I helped coach the girls soccer team at Lowell Catholic. They made him the official team mascot/ball boy. The reason I mention this is because a couple of years later he decided he wanted to try to play soccer on his school's team. I encouraged him but by the same token told him not to get frustrated if the other boys were better since they had been playing longer. When I tell you, I almost had to get picked up off the floor when he scored in his first game, is to put it mildly. It was almost like he had absorbed everything he had seen all those years, "Matrix-Style".
By the time he graduated middle school he was tied for the most goals scored in the season. This was amazing on its own, but he did this while only playing offense for half of the game! The other half he either played defense or goal. During his middle school years he was on championship soccer, baseball and basketball teams. He got various awards including the outstanding player of the year award. Academically he was not straight A's but he held his own as well as having perfect attendance. He also received a technology award because the kid is a computer Whiz!
Alexi has been struggling lately to overcome some emotional burdens from his past that he is now trying to work through. It is painful to see him have to deal with these issues at such a young age. Luckily we have a great line of communication so he has someone to help him work thorough it.
Alexi is a freshman in high school now. He played soccer, basketball and is hoping to play baseball this spring.
He has not decided what he wants to be but he does know he wants to go to Arizona for college.
I cannot begin to express how blessed I feel to have the opportunity to have this great kid in my life. I also know that he is another one that will do awesome in whatever he decided to do!
And no matter how old he gets, he will always be my cute little Alexi!
Jessica is 19 years old now and a freshman in college. It is funny sometimes how we receive things that we pray for or desire. I had always wanted to have a baby girl of my own.
Do not get me wrong, I adore my boys. The sports, the roughness, the silliness and just plain fun that being around boys can be most of the times! But at times, even though I was kind of rough since my biggest influence was my older adoptive brother, I wanted to get girly! I wanted to make the frilly dresses, bake cookies together, you basic mother daughter stuff.
After the birth of Chris my ex-husband made it quite clear that he did not want any more children. I guess I kind of hoped that maybe someday he would change his mind and we could adopt a little girl of our own.
I never imagined in a million years that when I married Mel I would gain a daughter out of it! When I saw Jess for the first time, she walked over to me, grabbed my hand and told the whole world, "I'm sleeping with her!"
(We were going on a camping trip with Mel's family)
From that moment on Jess had me hook, line and sinker! She is as girly as I am, not!
I did make her some dresses, that she covered in mud playing with her brothers. We baked cookies. She became known as "the cupcake queen"! Any time someone needed baked goods there was Jess and her cupcakes!
Jess went through some rough times because of some decisions that were made by her mother; as a result of these, Jess moved in to live with us when she was in 8th grade.
All I have to say is that Jess is one of the most amazing human beings I know. The way she handled herself through it all, I have to give her credit, any other kid would have gone hog wild and self destructed. She made some mistakes, struggled to find her true self. To understand who she really was and what she was about. But for the most part she refused to follow the norm or get cohered into doing anything she did not feel was right.
Over the years Jess and I have become carbon copies of each other. People always compare us and never once question whether we are "real" family or not.
Jess has a beautiful voice that moves your spirit when she sings. She was a star athlete in high school in soccer, softball and basketball. She has the distinction of being the first girl to play on a championship boys' baseball team in one of our city leagues. She was a finalist in a beauty pageant, on a winning cheer leading team, has a brown belt in Tang-So-Doo and various trophies and medals to prove it. She has won medals in gymnastics, awards in athletics and academically. She had perfect attendance since sixth grade; now she is on a competitive ballroom dancing team in college!
Am I bragging? Maybe a little, but mostly it's to show how truly amazing this young lady is!
As I have said earlier, I got blessed with two wonderful daughters when I married Mel. The thing that amazes me is how God went through so much trouble to bring this precious child into my life.
When Jess went so far away to college, I was sad, to put it mildly. I missed the strains of her beautiful voice while she sang in the shower; the heart-felt laughter at our silliness, the walk-by hugs and snuggle bunnies in the back seat of the "Burban". Deep down inside though, I was proud of her for always being true to her beliefs.
She loves her school and plans on being a dance education major with a minor in music. Her brothers are already scheming to make her a world class singing sensation! Honestly whatever she decided to go after, she is going to kick butt!
Thank heavens for cell phones, text messages, e-mails and web-cams; otherwise I would be one big mess!
Jose Jr. is 21 years old. We just call him Jose or by his nickname "Situ". He uses his nickname as his artist name when he performs with his brothers.
Jose was six years old when his parents got divorced. At that tender age he was led to believe that he was now the man of the house! He took it to heart! For years my husband and Jose would butt heads over this. He had a hard time understanding that the only person he was responsible for was himself. In actuality, not even, after all he was just a small child!
When Jose came into my life he was only seven years old. He tried really hard not to like me. You know, the future step-mother and all, but it did not work! He was sweet, loving and had a heart as big as the White Mountains!
At times I guess Jose thought I was weird. Well he was right about that, I am weird! But the reason he thought I was weird was because I would babied him! I would help him get his clothes ready, cook his favorite foods or massage his legs and arms after his baseball games. I treated him as the little boy he was! We used to tickle each other silly or he would join the piggy pile on my lap as I read "Winnie-the-Pooh" for the hundredth time!
Jose and Chris are less than two years apart. At times Jose would get involved in the imagination games that Chris, Jess and Alexi would play. At other times he thought they were "babyish" and he would rather hang with the older boys. The challenge was his other brothers were between four and nine years older than him! He would get so mad because he wanted to go to the movies with them! Hard for us to let him go, since teenagers love to go to the late show! He swore we never let him do anything fun with his brothers!
For all the emotional conflicts Jose had to endure in his young life, there is one thing that has never changed; the fact that he still has a heart as big as the White Mountains. He is a true friend that would do anything for the legion of friends he has made over the years. He is a dedicated athlete and a loving son.
He too was a standout athlete in football, basketball and baseball in high school. He still holds a few records there as well, which at five feet, seven inches, is quite a feat!
He attended Salem State College and then transferred to Barry University.
His one desire was to play baseball at the college level. For reasons unknown to us, the coach at Barry University decided not to put him on the team.
What the coach does not know is that he did our son a huge favor! Jose knows he is talented, dedicated and a true team player. So he could not understand why the coach did not select him. But this rejection fired him up, motivated him and inspirited him to not give up! As a result of his determination and hard work he is now playing at Suffolk University.
I always told him, sometimes the answer is not "no", it is simply "not yet!" This experience has bumped him up to a whole new caliber as a player and as a human being.
He hopes to someday play professional baseball or as a sports commentator. Then again he can also develop his musical career with his brothers!
There is one thing I have to say about my son; actually three. One thing is he knows his sports. Second thing, he has the gift of gab and he is funny when he is gabbing! The last thing; when Jose sets his mind on something, you might as well cash the check, because it's a done deal!
Batter up, boys!
My husband also had four children, two boys, two girls.
Cristina, the oldest, is 23. Talk about two universes colliding! The day Cristina was born was the exact day and time I got married to my first husband. The irony of that always got me, because those two events were the ones that set Mel and me on the path of our destiny together. You will see how later in my story~
Cristina was born with severe jaundice and was in the hospital longer because of it. Mel told me that it was the only time his ex-wife saw him cry. Mel also told me that the moment Cristina was born was when he understood the meaning of unconditional love.
Times were hard for Cristina during her parents were divorce. She was a big Daddy's little girl and by the same token she adored her mom. She felt torn thinking she had to pick sides. She self appointed herself the mommy of her three younger siblings in an attempt to protect them. Unfortunately because of this she can butt heads with some of them at times. She keeps mothering them, telling what to do, when all they really want is a big sister to hang out with and love.
When I came into the picture Cristina was just shy of her tenth birthday. Around this time I found out from her school that she had been corralled into a special education class without my husband's knowledge or consent. She was an extremely shy little girl and somehow the teachers took this to mean she had learning disabilities! This class gave her a false sense of security. She thought she was an honor roll student, as did my husband, when in reality she was falling behind more and more each day.
I finally put my two cents in and insisted to have her evaluated. The school did so, but refused any major changes in her curriculum so we moved her to the same private school Chris was attending. This of course made me the bad guy. She went from being a so called "honor roll" student to barely getting "D"'s. Cristina was heartbroken as she was a very hard working student. Luckily with the dedicated teachers at Saint Margaret's and a paid tutor she was able to catch up.
Cristina went on to become a standout basketball and softball player at the same high school as her brother. Alex encouraged her to try soccer her sophomore year. The funny thing was she had never played! Cristina not only did well, but she still holds several records at the school! Her team was the first girls' soccer team from LCHS to make it to States! Cristina became a good student in a school that has high academic rigors as well as active in student activities.
Cristina attended Salem State College and played softball there. She later transferred to Barry University in Florida where she is a business major. Cristina has gotten a job with a major retail company and is on the fast track to upper management. She hopes to someday run her own business. Whatever this little dynamo with the smile of an angel but a will of iron decided to do, she will no doubt be very successful at it! Watch out Wall Street little business giant coming through!
When you have raised nine children, you are subject to a lot of children's programs! Also the fact that kids love to watch their favorites over and over again, some shows become ingrained in our subconscious mind, well what is left of our mind!
My husband and I have a running gag about a line from "Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer". In this part the elf who want to be a dentist tells the rest of the group that they can be "independent together!" My kids always thought that this was an oxymoron, because independence meant going it alone. Funny thing is a lot of adults think the same thing too!
In reality that is one of the deepest lines I have ever heard. Well as deep as you can get from "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer"!
Being independent together is the fiber that makes families, friendships, marriages and relationships in general work. Notice it does not say co-dependent or dependent. The way it works is simple. You as a member of a group know who you are and what you are about. Then you add the support and acceptance of the group to help you become the person you are striving to become. The group also helps you with moral support, encouragement even chastisement when we stray too far. By the same token you do the same for the other members of the group!
The problem in relationships stem from when we lose sight of the fact that no one is exactly like we are. You cannot expect them to do everything like you do or to your liking. When you forget that concept challenges arise.
Notice I did not say we had to agree with everything the other person did, or said. Just because someone does not become what we would like, does not mean that person is wrong or "bad". We let them be their own individual, independent of your expected desires or concepts, but at the same time keeping the betterment of the group in sight. This does not mean letting your kids run wild. This does not mean not giving input or direction. It means letting an individual be their true self, not a bad imitation of what you want them to be.
When one member of the group forgets this, we get resentments, conflicts and soon we go our separate ways if not physically, emotionally. I feel this is the main ingredient that results in dysfunctional families; especially, if we do not know how to deal with that anger and resentment. Add to the mix drugs, alcohol, infidelity, promiscuity, illiteracy, poverty, low-self esteem or any other overwhelming variables and you have a recipe for disaster!
My kids, at times, refer to themselves as coming from a dysfunctional family. While I agree with them that my parents, grandparents and some of my siblings were and are dysfunctional. I feel that we as a family are not in that category. Imperfect maybe, but not dysfunctional! I read somewhere, and I apologize because the gentleman's name escapes me right now, the definition of a dysfunctional family.
He said that a dysfunctional family does not know where they are going, what they are about or what they stand for. By the same token a functional family knows where they are going, know what they are about and know what they stand for!
Notice he did not talk about being perfect, rich, and successful or without faults or challenges. Be honest, no one's family is perfect! There are really good families who have big issues. There are really bad families who are supposedly "perfect" and then there are average families like ours. Families who in spite of it all, have managed to produce average, somewhat well adjusted people, who are striving to better themselves!
I never thought that watching a Christmas special about a reindeer would bring such a valuable lesson to my family and me. Then again I guess life's biggest lessons can at times come in the strangest places and formats!
I love that phrase "independent together" and we as a family will continue to use it as our family motto!
I wonder if the writers of that show ever thought that a little line would have such a huge impact on a family's life!
So to Rudolph, the elf and the whole crew from that show lets continue to be "independent together!"
My youngest son is Chris is 19 years old now. Chris was born at a time that was great financially but not so great emotionally. He came as my first marriage was gasping its final breaths. I think his father and I hung in there a bit longer because we both loved the boys so much. Alex, my youngest at the time, was almost seven years old, so Chris was surrounded by older brothers who catered to his every wish. My ex-sister-in-law had rented an apartment from us, so add to the mix two older cousins and a doting aunt. Chris definitely did not lack for love and attention!
When Chris was two months old he came down with a severe urinary infection that quickly started to spread into his blood system. They discovered he had a defect with the valve that went into his bladder, causing backwashing. He would require surgery and a tube implant to repair the damage. Chris was required to be on antibiotics for almost eight months until he was old enough, or rather big enough to have the procedure. I know that doctors are required to tell you all the bad news as well as the good, but the prospect that he might die wasn't something, we as a family wanted to hear. We were truly blessed by the fact that God's hand was in everything that happened during this phase of his life. I will explain more on that later, but for now let's just say everything went extremely well! To this day he hasn't suffered from any side effects or required any further medical intervention for his condition.
Chris' sweet nature and loving spirit saw me through some of the roughest times in my personal life. The one ray of hope, next to his older brothers, was that little nymph, with the big puppy eyes and the shy smile. No matter how bad the day went one tiny grin and a soft, lispy, "I love you Mommy" made it all better!
Chris wasn't very talkative but he was a deep thinker even at a young age. He wanted to read "Rainbow Six" instead of books closer to his age! As crazy as people said having Chris at that time was, I will never regret it for one moment!
He played football, baseball and even tried basketball for a year while in high school. He loved playing football but baseball was his favorite, especially pitching. It isn't that Chris wasn't good at sports; it was just that he was constantly overshadowed by some of his other siblings who excelled in that area. With determination and some work he became a decent athlete. Chris was a gifted student who carried a full load of honor classes and he took his church responsibilities seriously. Seriously that was, until his senior year, when that dreaded ailment called "Senioritis" went rampant throughout a few of his friends. He was one of its poor victims.
His down fall at times is that he relies too much on his God given intelligence, instead of actually doing all the required work, which can cause his grades to look like the White Mountains at times, all up and down! Chris also encountered some personal issues that he still needs to sort out during this time, but I know he will continue to do the right thing.
He had been saying he wants to go to Harvard or the University of Miami ever since he was little. As he got closer he realized a few things, Harvard was hard to get into and not that far from home and Miami was muggy! He finally set his heart on UNLV. He got accepted to the University of Hartford and Barry University. Yet we hadn't heard from UNLV. Life is funny; two days after he paid the deposit to Barry University he got an acceptance letter from UNLV! There went my deposit and there went Chris!
He is majoring in Film and aspires to be a screen writer/director. He has already written several screenplays. He is one of my leading suppliers of short stories for my webpage!
As is typical at times with young men, he is questioning his place in God's plan and the meaning of religion in general. But as he embarks on the next phase of his life I am sure he will find the answers he seeks! I also have no doubt I am going to get the opportunity to get all decked for a trip to the Oscars! And the winner is………………
Alex is 26 years old now. Alex was born two weeks before Derek turned three. I was lucky enough to be able to spend more time with him that his two older brothers. I had gotten laid off because the company I worked for closed down so I was home. I had always wanted to become a nurse, so while I was pregnant with him I looked into becoming a medical assistant. When he was two months old I started school. Classes were only three hours a day, so I got to spend the rest of the day with him.
When Alex was nine months old he had a massive seizure. If it hadn't been for his Uncle Wayne checking in on him when Alex was at my mother's, he would have died right there in his crib. He spent almost two weeks in the hospital recovering. The doctors said it was a miracle that he didn't have any long term effects from the seizure.
My ex-husband at times didn't exhibit the most common sense, most likely this was where Derek got it from! When Alex was three years old I became a police officer. Being a medical assistant at the time didn't pay as well as it did now, so I changed careers.
One Sunday I was working and his his dad took him to the soccer field with him. I told Alex to make sure he wore his hooded jacket because it was chilly. Thank Goodness he listened! While my ex was playing soccer, the nine year old boy of the person watching Alex and, I use the word "watching" loosely, knocked him off the bleachers onto the cement floor. He fell about ten feet! My ex, this is where the lack of common sense comes in, instead of calling for an ambulance picked him up and drove home! I just happen to have gotten home from my shift early as he arrived with him. Alex couldn't even stand up. I jumped into my car and took him to the emergency room. I was so livid at my ex that I forgot I was still in full uniform. The nurses thought I was on duty bringing in an accident victim! Another two weeks in the hospital and once again the doctors told me that the only reason he was alive was because the bunched-up hood from his jacket cushioned the blow.
I was grateful that my son had been spared twice and he was spoiled to say the least. Throughout grade school he was a hell child, but he gradually mellowed out in high school. He was successful in high school and a stand out goalkeeper in soccer. He was student body president, student ambassador and won several awards in drama, sports and for his community activism. He even got a scholarship to play soccer in college.
He felt overwhelmed and decided college wasn't for him. He went through a few career changes until he wound up in the private security field. It was kind of ironic that we even ended up working together. I was his supervisor! It was funny to tell him what to do and he was unable to argue back!
He moved to Florida to start over after he broke up with the girl he thought would become his wife. Thank Heavens she didn't! He resumed his career in security and recently got promoted to Lieutenant at his work site.
When he was here he was known as his older brothers' "Hype man" in the act. He's the one that gets the crowd going during the performances.
Funny thing is years later he finally decided to go back to college to get his degree. He would love to work as a criminal psychologist or a profiler. Although He still plans on managing his brothers as their publicist. No matter what he decided to do, when he is ready, I know that Alex is going to be very successful at whatever he decided to pursue in his life.
Eric is 27 years old now and he is married and living outside of New England. He and his wife Sarah are expecting their first child, a boy, in May.
Eric has the distinct honor of being the only one of my boys that was actually planned. Derek was six months old when my ex-husband finally decided to accept responsibility for his son. Houdini "returneth".
My mother and sister went overboard insisting on a big wedding, etc. I honestly just wanted to get away from my family, so I left with my soon to be husband. We decided to have another child so that he would be close in age to Derek. I was eighteen years old when I had Eric. He was the most amazing child! Sweet and kind, always the peacemaker, he was a mother's dream. He had big chunky cheeks, thick, golden, brown curls and the biggest, most beautiful eyes. The only things bigger were his smile and his heart.
Eric was in the background a lot because Derek's asthma was so severe. There were a lot of late night trips to the emergency room and long hospital stays. I would stay in the hospital with Derek, so this meant Eric would be with his grandmother for days at a time. Even through all of this he still was a sweet, well adjusted boy.
My main regret with Eric is that we didn't do right by him. His life could have been so much easier had he had the right amount of attention and encouragement. Eric was a gifted basketball player. My ex-husband did not let him shine in that sport. His father was a semi-professional soccer player in his youth and wanted his sons to do the same. The irony was that my ex-husband's sister went to college on a basketball scholarship in the early seventies! Eric inherited his skills from her. Eric tried to accommodate his father for a long time, but eventually he got tired of trying to please him and rebelled. The divorce was more difficult for Eric because he felt totally abandoned. His father up and left and his favorite uncle Wayne passed away suddenly. I was totally shell-shocked and over-whelmed and wasn't much help either. Following the only person left around, he wound up in the same troubles as his older brother Derek. When Mel came into the picture he tried to connect with the boys, but he just didn't know how and the rebellion continued.
I decided to divide and conquer and sent him to Costa Rica Academy his freshman year of high school. He did very well there and even played on the varsity basketball team.
I let my adoptive family talk me into bringing him back way too soon. This resulted in him getting caught up with the wrong crowd again. He eventually took the rap for something his brother did and got kicked out of the house. He dropped out of high school, since finding a place to live became his main priority. I am ashamed to say that my son struggled, even being homeless at times because of this decision. I am just grateful that after all this, we were able to mend our bridges and become close again. He even lived with us for a year when he was in his early twenties, which helped us grow even closer as a family.
He has come full circle and has done wonderfully in his life. He tested for his GED and passed without taking any classes. Another Brainiac, he can recite the answers on "Jeopardy" like a computer!
Now as he awaits the arrival of his first child, he works very hard in his "real job" to pay the bills. But he still continues to keep working towards his dream of making it in the music industry with his brother. He has become a great mentor and role model to his younger brothers and sisters. The main thing is that he still continues to be a mother's dream and I know he will be an incredible dad.
Chris wrote this while at UNLV. It was another one of our video chat projects. He wrote it and I helped with the editing. The amazing part is he got all the facts and background on his own. I wish I was that focused at his age!
For your approval,
The wind is all I hear as my eyes are closed and my heart is pounding like a sledge hammer in my chest. The engines of the plane don't even seem to be making a sound; I just focus on the wind; that and the Saint Michael's medallion that is in my hand. I recite that all too familiar prayer in my head.
"O St. Michael, give me strength to defeat my fear and rise up to this challenge."
Then, suddenly the words I dreaded to hear come from the left of me.
"Thirty seconds!" He shouts out.
I gulp and open my eyes to see my good friend sitting across from me. He has a calm look on his face, but his leg is moving faster than a jack-rabbit making love!
We all stand up almost in unison. Suddenly the wind is gone as I look out the window and see the bright flashes in the sky. I kiss Saint Michael and place him in my front pocket. I grasp my M1 Gerund close to my chest; I start to recite the motto in my head, which is just as familiar as my St. Michael.
"This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is MINE! My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle without me is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will... My rifle and myself know that what counts in war are not the rounds we fire, the noise of our bursts, nor the smoke we make. We know it is the hits that count. We will hit... My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights, and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will... Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but PEACE!"
As I say the last words in my head, my C.O. is at three in the count. He hits one and the "go, go, go's" follow. Three men are in front of me; Davis, Jones, and Ryan.
Ryan jumps, just two more now. Jones yells something I can't quite make out as he jumps. One more, okay it's almost tee time. Davis goes; all right you ready, I ask myself. I jump. The wind is cold as it hits my face, and the rain feels like little needles tearing at my flesh. I see what seem like laser beams flashing by me from the gun turrets below. Yup, this is what I signed up for, no guts no glory!
I pull my cord and I know this is the worst part. I am now a sitting duck for the Germans below to get me.
All of a sudden I start falling a lot faster, a lot faster than I should. Damn it they hit my chute! I frantically look down and see a barn roof right before the tree branch blinds me; I jolt violently and so suddenly that my rifle get ripped out of my arms. This can't be good, but damn I'm lucky; as I look up I see that my chute has gotten caught in the bigger branches of the tree. I know that if it weren't for the adrenaline my whole body would be screaming pain right now. No guts, no glory! I quietly start looking for my knife when I hear the most unwelcoming sound, German.
I turn my head to see a German soldier pointing his rifle at me. I just stare right back at him. I lock on his eyes so he knows I don't fear death, or him. He mutters something and I see the muzzle flash. They say time stops when you die and I can testify that this is true. The silhouette of the soldier is eerily still. The flash of his muzzle is very clear, but silent. Suddenly the night sky clears and luminescent light begins to fill the air. I see wings off in the distance, coming from where the light originated. This is it. My Old friend St. Mike himself! I smile. But just as quickly the light sucks back over the hills and St. Mike, wings and all, go with it. I hear a voice.
"Hey, are you alright? Hey, Captain he's coming to." The voice gets louder.
I open my eyes. I'm on my back and everything is blurry at first. Slowly it starts to get clearer. I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder. You have got to be kidding me! He shot me in the shoulder; I must have passed out after he hit me. The American soldier standing over me helps me up and moves me to a wall. He whispers to me how lucky I am and that I'm getting a purple heart and probably a one-way ticket home. I softly smile and laugh. I guess I deserve it. How many people can say they looked death in the eye and didn't feel any fear? How many can say they welcomed their fate with open arms. Not many that's for sure. But one thing was for sure, it was nice to have Old St. Mike on our side.
Today I was going stir crazy, so Mel took me out to eat. It was a long process since I still can't put any weight on my leg. Getting around my own room has become an Olympic event. I had taken so many things for granted! A simple thing like a shoe on the floor was nothing when I had both legs healthy. Now, trying to navigate around it or picking it up is nearly impossible! After dinner I was wiped out and just returned home and crashed.
While I was recuperating a thought came to me of how utterly challenging life must be for people with disabilities. I have never been clueless to this fact. I worked with people with disabilities for a while and saw their struggles.
As a matter of fact I have a friend named Chris. Chris is one of the most amazing people I know. He was born with a condition that requires him to wear braces on his legs, either that or use a wheelchair. Chris' life was hard and to respect his privacy I won't go into details but his spirit is unbelievable!
He lives alone now and manages to travel all over the place. This is amazing enough except for the fact that he does it all on public transportation! Chris knows the transit system better than people that work there! When he isn't working or attending his various appointments, Chris can be found downtown enjoying the world. I tease him all the time that he should just run for Mayor, since everyone knows him and he knows everyone!
The other cool thing about Chris is that he is so independent. When we go anywhere he insists on putting the wheelchair in my car himself. He carries his own bags and will use his walker to navigate around by himself. Add to this the fact that he is a loyal friend, true and true. He calls to make sure I am okay. He worries about my kids in college as much as I do and he always remembers to ask about my crazy dog Buddie. He has a heart as big as they come!
Chris had a slip and fall and wound up in the hospital recently, yet he was more worried about finding out how I was after my surgery!
I know Chris will probably be upset with me for putting him in the lime light, but honestly he so deserves it. I feel that way,even more now. I have gotten a deeper understanding of how really difficult it must be for him to get around at times. He has to consider the elements, the terrain, the stairs, etc, any time he is going to go out! The only time I think about the weather is just to decided what to wear!
I know that in a few weeks I will be back on my feet, but my friend Chris will have to struggle the rest of his life. I also know these two things; one, I will never take my health or mobility for granted again, and two, I now really know how much of an everyday hero my friend Chris really is. Through all his trials and struggles he continues to live life to the fullest extent of his ability!
Chris buddy, I love you and you truly are my hero! Now hurry up and get better so we can go get some tacos!