It happened no less than a thousand times during my childhood.
I would be with my dad at the grocery store, a football game, mall, or some other big public place when something would catch the corner of my eye. It might have been a boy my age confined to a wheelchair or a young adult with no arms or a teenager covered in burns. Once the person was comfortably out of earshot, my dad, every single time, would lean in and whisper we sure are lucky.
It became predictable. Whenever I saw someone with a genetic disease or severe handicap, I knew my dad would be in my ear. At the time, I didn’t really comprehend what my dad was trying to say. I felt bad for the person and perhaps a little uncomfortable too, but I didn’t think much beyond that.
Growing older and having a child will make you wiser. As an adult, I have a better grasp on what my dad was trying to convey. As a kid, you don’t realize how devastating any type of physical setback, especially the ones that greatly limit and scar the body, can have on a person. But as the years go by and the realities of this world start to set in, you realize that being able to live a life with no major physical limitations or scars is perhaps one of the best gifts of all; a gift that not everyone is given.
I have lived my life with no limitations. As a kid I was able to play sports, ride my bike, and run around at the park. As an adult I can exercise when I want, play with my daughter at full blast, and perform everyday tasks without assistance.
But I lucked out much more than just on a personal level. Sidney and Sloan are healthy too. We live unobstructed lives when millions of people don’t. How do we recognize this good fortune? Well, thanking God is the best way. But I think we need to take time each day to think about those who are living with awful diseases and genetic conditions. We need to feel empathy and we need to help them when we can. Even though I would physically see people less fortunate than me growing up, my dad tried to make me grasp it on a deeper level. With him no longer right over my shoulder, I am left to do that deeper level thinking on my own. Perhaps I can encourage my daughter to do the same as she gets older. Sloan, we sure are lucky. Don’t Blink.