Saturday, May 28, 2016

Arise and Walk

I didn't plan on writing about my dad today. But you never know what will spark a memory or a feeling. I happened across a "this day in history" thing on the internet which included this: 

On May 27th, 1995 in Culpeper, Virginia, the actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition.

This is an event that resonates with me on two different levels. 

First of all, as a fan of Superman since I was a kid, I was astonished by the skill and talent that Christopher Reeve brought the Man of Steel to life in the movies. It was hard to fathom that an actor who made us a believe a man can fly was reduced to not being able to walk or even feed himself.  The paralysis that struck down Reeve was so complete, he needed assistance to even breathe. 

Secondly but more importantly, a paralyzing injury struck down my dad the year before. He experienced a dizzy spell while in the bathroom and he fell. He struck his spine at just the wrong angle. An inch in either direction and he may have come out of it just fine. Instead he was a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

My dad, God rest his soul, did not know exactly what to do with me when I was young. We were so fundamentally different from each other. I was an honor roll student with an almost fanatical devotion to reading. My dad had trouble reading. He may have had a mental condition of some kind, like dyslexia, that impeded his learning but it was never diagnosed.

But he could fix things and build things. He could work with his hands. He knew what to do with a hammer and a screwdriver and a wrench and a paint brush. So being paralyzed must've been a particular hell for him. I know when my mom mentioned something in the house needed fixing and she had to do herself or get someone to help, it tore my dad apart to just lie there and not be able to help.

To be honest, it's not something I want to think about. But sometime thoughts come unbidden. Like with the reminder of that fateful span of seconds from 21 years ago yesterday that changed the life of Christopher Reeve forever. Reeve lived on with the hope that one day science would catch up to his injuries and he would once more arise and walk. So did my dad. Sadly, both men died before that hope could be realized in their lifetimes.

I live with the faith that my dad did get to walk again, walk right up to the gates of heaven. And I hope that heaven is not so completely perfect a place that there's something for dad's hands to make right once more.

Everyone, be good to one another.   

Counting Down To Infinity