Saturday I drove from my son and daughter-in-law's house in northwest Arkansas to my sister's house in Jefferson City, Missouri. At this time of year it was a beautiful drive, as you can well imagine. But this post isn't about the scenery.
When I have a long drive I listen to a book on CDs...or try to listen. Sometimes my brain just won't turn off whatever tangent I happen to be on to concentrate on the book and that's what happened to me on Saturday. I was on my way to spend a week visiting with my aunt and cousin who were spending the week with my sister. They both need a lot of help and care - my aunt is blind and needs breathing treatments twice a day, and my cousin is a severe diabetic and on dialysis three times a week. And my sister has to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday so they needed help those days for sure. But this post isn't about them needing help.
A couple of days ago I told you about a classmate of mine who is semi homeless and who came to our reunion anyway. I thought that was one of the most couragous things I'd seen. But these two top even that. They were flying from San Antonio to St. Louis, via Houston, just to visit with us. Their courage is what this post is about.
One of them is completely blind and the other has very limited vision because of her diabetes. Neither of them is able to walk from the check-in counter to the gate or from the gate to the baggage area so they have to rely on the airlines to get them, in wheelchairs, from where they are to where they are going. And they are wheeled to the baggage area where they wait for us to meet them, simply trusting that we will show up. They hand over suitcases they can't see or identify easily to people they don't know and believe that those same bags will arrive with them and will be found for them. Now make no mistake, the airlines folks are wonderful - every one a hero for the way they treat them. The gentleman who brought them from the gate to the baggage area was kind and generous and helpful (Continental Airlines, by the way). But can you imagine yourself in their situation? Sitting in a waiting area in a wheelchair, unable to see, believing that you will be met by loved ones?
And to top it all off the plane had a small problem landing - the flaps wouldn't go down and they had a rough landing to put it mildly. I don't know much about planes but I think those flaps are a large part of what slows that plane down! According to them, the passengers cheered when they landed safely. They weren't afraid though because, "what's there to be afraid of? Either we get where we're going or if the plane crashes we get to go home with Jesus and both of those would be wonderful!"
At the reunion I mentioned in my previous post I overheard a classmate (Jack Sides) talking about riding a motorcycle all over the country (sorry Jack but I hate motorcycles and just can't help it) and he said, "Some people confuse breathing with living." While I am still scared to death of motorcycles I love what he said. It applies so beautifully to my beloved aunt and cousin. They embrace life. My aunt loves for us to describe the scenery or our houses or whatever we're looking at because she "can see it in my mind." She doesn't moan and groan about being blind. She runs her own business by the way (she's 70 years old) - a cafeteria in a state building. My cousin doesn't complain about the dialysis or the insulin shots or the sores that won't heal. They just do what has to be done and they have a good time doing it. Naturally they have to have a little help but they go shopping or out to eat or to family reunions and they do it with a grace that I envy. They get on a bus or a plane and they are excited and happy, not dreading a long ride. Everything about their lives screams courage.
What is it that makes some people embrace life and step out with courage and others retreat from it and hide under the bed, figuratively speaking? I don't know but I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts....and better still I'd love to read some other posts about people you know who exhibit this kind of courage.