Several years ago I wrote an article for “Generations” about looking on the “bright side” of my disability. I had recently read the book Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. This book inspired me to give serious thought to the many “blessings” life with ataxia has given me. It has made me realize that I too, really am lucky. Nothing is gained by dwelling on the negatives. I have to admit that I took the diagnosis of ataxia as a tragic life sentence but as they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
When my daughter, Elise, was just 2 years and my son, Raymond, was 6 months, I was told that I had ataxia. They are both teenagers now!
Life kept going, and in my opinion, too fast. Modern-day culture says, “go, go, go”. However, my condition has allowed me to go “slow, slow, slow”. I’m allowed guilt-free down-time. Most importantly, I was allowed to spend more time with my two children as they grew up. One benefit is what I’ve been able to give to my children. When I required rest-time, it correlated into playing with the kids or simply reading a book with them. In our family, school vacations never posed a scheduling problem. “No school” announcements in the winter contained as much magic as they did when I was a kid.
Another benefit is the fact that my children learned compassion. If a steep hill loomed in front of us, one of them would always be ready to lend me a hand in navigating it. If someone was hurt or sad they’ve always noticed. When I stumbled, they were never embarrassed. They’ve always been truly concerned.
And now that they are older, I have an even more flexible schedule. I can volunteer for a worthwhile cause; I can meet someone for lunch at the “drop of a hat”; I can sit and write this article…There are many opportunities out there if you just looked. As my ceramics teacher, Larry, once said, “don’t be limited by your fears!”
So I pray the same as Michael J. Fox, in the words of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” And now I shall go make some lemonade…