We Are Lucky

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.

2 thoughts on “We Are Lucky

  1. Hi Brent,
    Really enjoyed this piece. Your father had some great advice. Glad it stuck with you. We have a daughter who was born with spina bifada. She’s always used a wheel chair and has several cognitive issues as well. As a parent watching her grow, it was hard to see her not always be able to do what her sister or friends did w/o any problem. While we worked hard to help her do as much as possible, we Often spent a great deal of time explaining why she wasn’t always able to do things. It was heartbreaking at times. There are many issues that come up when you have a family member with special needs, and it can be difficult and trying at times. But growth and understanding also come to those put into these circumstances. I’d be curious to know if your father grew up with friends or family who had special health issues. He sounds like a man I’d like to know. And it sounds like he was a good father who has done a good job of passing that trait on to his son. Keep up the good work and give your spouse and daughter a big Montana hug.

    • Hi Todd – So nice getting this message! Will pass on the Montana hug. I never knew about your daughter, I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be. Sounds like you guys have done the best you could possibly do. My dad didn’t have special needs family members but he worked in a hospital for most of his career so perhaps that was a factor in how he raised us. Hope all is well. Every time UM is on ESPN or Root Sports I always see you! Enjoy the MLK Weekend. – Brent