So I’ve been in England a smidgen over a week now. As you read this the birds are trilling, the sun is streaming through the open window and the sky is richly blue and cloudless, the atmosphere thick with the assurance of another hot day. Yes, we are having a heatwave here in the UK. Talk about the bright side:-)
The children and I are staying with mum and dad for a the next couple of months. Admittedly I was apprehensive at how I might adjust to dad’s now ever more incapacitated state. The house is equipped at every turn with wheelchairs, a variety of walking aids, a stairlift and a new rise up recliner occupies the corner of the living room, where my father spends his days. A succession of cheery nurses pop by to redress wounds and or take his blood, wash his hair, and on the days they don’t come mum takes dad to hospital for physio, or to the foot clinic, or for a diabetes check up.
What I marvel at is how easy it would be for dad’s encumbering medical conditions-and his newly acquired disability- to become his identity. But he’s not let that happen.
Not once have I heard so much as a whisper from my father’s lips in complaint or lamentation at his quite sad physical deterioration. As we lark about in the garden or visit a local petting farm or restaurant, he heartily wishes us a splendid time without a detectable trace of regret in his voice, in case, I presume, it plants guilt in our hearts and deters us from our plans.
I notice dad drink in special moments now; just watching. He watches with a silent appreciation as the children build forts, the flickers of change in his wife’s face as she watches something heart warming. And I think in so many ways, he’s living more now than ever because he has a new found appreciation of life which we are ordinarily too busy to stop and absorb.
Its as though with every resignation of his body, his spirit becomes ever stronger, taking center stage as a means to protect the body from its ailing. His charm and dry wit are as crisp as ever. His humor still leaves the recipients of it gripping their tummies, bent over in unrelenting laughter. I’m sure he must be a favorite amongst the visiting nurses.
Dad has become one of those incredible Beings who you actually forget has a disability because what they put out in the world is so astonishing. He reminds me of 14 year old comedian Jack Carroll who reached the finals in Britain’s Got Talent in 2013. In fact, my dad often cheekily jokes with incoming visitors, “forgive me if I don’t get up” which reminds me of Jack’s frequent jibbing about his cerebral palsy. Jack’s father says of his son:-
“Its impossible for him to walk around without some kind of walking aid… that seems to be the least of his worries, his big worries are whether his jokes make people laugh or not.”
Stephen Hawkings is yet another example of a determined soul who has come here to deliver the world of his gifts, motor neurone disease or not. He’s the Einstein of our modern age. The recent movie The Theory of Everything is a staggering insight of his astounding life story.
God bless these inspiring Beings! Where would we be without their quiet determination to give their best anyhow?
There are many more examples, I’m sure you can think of some too. These three Beings illustrate that a broken body need not equate to a broken spirit. Could I muster such courage, determination, such positivity? I don’t know. I don’t think so. At least not initially. What about you?
There are so many reasons why these people with such huge and limiting obstacles to any semblance of worldly-viewed success and joy could have accepted a life wholly inhibited by their physical disabilities. But they didn’t. In fact, they do such a brilliant job gifting our world with humor or their brand of genius that we barely even notice that they are disabled at all.
So, then, what’s stopping us? What’s our excuse for not sharing out gifts and talents with the world?
As we ponder this today take a moment to thank our legs for all the weight they bear, the places they take us. Thank your arms for every teeny task they perform. What a wonder our bodies are, what incredible machines! And yet we only really notice them when they produce pain or discomfort. How backwards is that? Wrap your arms around yourself, close your sweet eyes and internally thank your body right now for all it does. Feel the gratitude warmly seep through your consciousness. Thank you.
How many times, I wonder, have the three marvellous souls we’ve discussed today wished for the abilities we take for granted? We can’t know. But we do know that despite any potential private longings they don’t let on to us.
We have great teachers all around, such as these, un/consciously offering us their wisdom through the example of their lives well-lived.
Never was it easier to dip my head in a lengthy Namaste. Namaste to my Dad, to Jack, to Stephen and to you. Because you too have such strength, such ability to succeed too, no matter what the obstacles.
The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.
I know you can.