The Joy and Importance of Work

13 12 2010

By Thom Linders

As soon as my brother heard I had been in a car wreck he quickly signed me up for State funded insurance (AHCSS), Social Security benefits and social services.  He knew, if I made it through everything, that I would need assistance.  I am extremely grateful that he did that.  The hospital bills alone would have destroyed me financially.

I had been working in one form or another since the age of seven, and paying into the FICA since age fifteen, so I was glad he had me signed up for the financial assistance as well.  It is wonderful that there are systems in place in America to catch people when something tragic happens to them. 

Equally terrific was the University of Arizona and the Department of Economic Security helping me obtain tuition assistance to return to college and learn a new trade.  At the time of my accident I was working for an electrical contractor and about to enter into an apprenticeship.  Clearly climbing ladders and pulling wire was not in my immediate future. 

Then things began to get strange.  As I chose my major it was clear that it really didn’t matter.  How could that be, surely I had to do something that would benefit society, right? 

“Not really, just explore your options”, I was told, “try to find your new place in life”. 

“Alright,” I responded, “but for how long?”

“Oh, no hurry”, they assured me, “as long as you keep a full load of credits and your grade point average above 2.5 you can go as long as you like”.

It was at this point I learned about professional students, people who continue going to college indefinitely, all on the tax-payers dime with no real plan on using the knowledge bequeathed them.  I could simply not imagine that option.

Starting at the age of seven, as previously stated, I learned to work to get what I wanted in life.  My family was, at the time, poor and yet my mother always worked.  Sometimes she had more than one job, she had kids to support, and not working was not an option.  I began young selling Grit magazines and mowing neighbor’s lawns to earn enough to buy a few extra’s like the other kids had.  Never did I feel entitled to anything, but I always believed I could work hard enough and acquire whatever I was willing to earn.

But now I had to adjust, everything was different, I was in a wheelchair.  Again I was blessed to be in a country that had provisions for someone in my shoes to help me get back on my feet, so to speak.

I soon began getting checks in the mailbox every month.  Not a lot of money, but enough to pay rent and feed myself.  Of course I appreciate this, but as someone who had owned their own car since the age of fifteen, and with my last car destroyed in the wreck, I wanted to become more independent.  I knew I would need transportation, and there was not enough in my monthly check to cover that.  I would need a job.

I went to a car dealership, found a car I could drive and get myself in and out of, and worked out a deal.  It was at one of those pay through the nose, but anyone will qualify car lots that wrote their own loans.  The interest was high, but the lot owner told me if I could prove I had a job by the end of the day he would let me drive it home.

I looked in the paper, and there were no “good” jobs, but I saw a carpet cleaning company who needed people to cold call people to see if they wanted their carpet cleaned.  I hate being called; I knew it would be a horrible job.  But, the point is I had something I wanted to obtain, and instead of asking anyone to get it for me, I took the job and drove my newly acquired used car to it the following day.

I was able to get to and from campus a lot easier now as well, so it was all good, or so I thought.  It turned out that if you are willing to read the script they ask you do, and quickly dial the next number, and are polite to the person you are calling you can do pretty well for yourself.  After a few months I moved up to an office supplies manufacturer who needed someone to do similar work.  My pay increased, although not much and I was still only marginally employable as I had relatively few marketable skills.

Alas I began working for a newspaper in their classified department and knew I could sustain my livelihood.  I promptly contacted the Social Security Administration and discontinued my checks.  I was then informed that the $200 a week I had been earning was more than I was allowed to earn and still get the checks at all, so I therefore owned several thousand dollars back to the agency, and they would garnish my tax returns until I paid it in full.

Unbelievable, I was actually being encouraged to not work.  They were fine paying me to go to school, as long as I was willing to not work.  It made no sense to me at all.  I repaid every cent, and never looked back.

Sure, my now fifty year old body often does not want to go to work.  Furthermore, I know there are not an unlimited number of jobs I am qualified to do, and even the one I have, is not anything I would have sought before my wreck.  But, I have learned a way to support myself and I have restored my dignity and self worth but not needing assistance.

Over the years I took the skills learned in that job ad opened my own magazine.  It persisted for three years, but eventually I ran out of money.  Many people told me I could request Government Grants and become a non-profit and keep it going, but I really don’t believe the Tax-payer should be supporting that sort of enterprise, so I found employment with a solid Fortune 500 company that makes software.

I have been with this company now for almost ten years and have great benefits, earn a higher than average income and have been rewarded in numerous ways.  Probably the most significant way is that I can appreciate what I have, and what I earn.

I have always tried to instill this value into my son as well.  Although he has many nice amenities that I could have only dreamt of growing up, we still require that he earns those privileges.  It is equally important to my wife and I that he understands that nothing in this life is free, someone, somewhere has to pay for it.

Next week I will be taking a very nice nine day vacation in Jamaica, and I will be able to enjoy and appreciate all that I experience there, knowing that I work hard every day to earn those perks.





15 12 2010

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Why Jamaica?

15 12 2010

Why Jamaica?

By Thom Linders

I have been blessed to travel to many places in my life, but for the last several years we have tried to make one trip a year to the island nation of Jamaica.  We love Jamaica, and just about everything about it.  We are getting ready to spend Christmas in Jamaica, which will be a first for us, and people often ask me why I like to go to Jamaica so much?

Is it wheelchair friendly?  Not completely, but no worse than most places I have been.  It has improved a lot over the years however. 

The first time I went to Jamaica was 18 years ago when my fiancé and I decided that we would get married on the beach at Sandal’s Dunn’s River Falls.  Actually, because we could not afford the upgrade to Dunn’s River Falls, we planned to get married at Sandal’s Montego Bay.  Both are all-inclusive luxury included resorts but the price at Montego Bay was considerably less.  Although the amenities at Dunn’s River Falls were much more appealing we figured that since it was our first experience with any place like this, Montego Bay would be fine.

Flying from our home town of Tucson, Arizona is always a challenge; there are practically no direct flights to anywhere you would want to go.  In most cases you have to fly to Phoenix, or Dallas or Las Vegas, and then connect to somewhere else, before flying to Jamaica.  That first trip was no different, but we were young lovers heading off to get married, so we didn’t care.

After taking a cab to the airport we flew to Dallas.  I had learned to always gate check my wheelchair when travelling, so that I can have access to it during layovers, and it was a good thing I did.  Upon arriving in Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport we learned that our connection was completely across the airport to a different terminal.  They had people movers, and we had time so we headed to the new terminal and decided to eat something while waiting.  So far things were going well.

We then casually got in line, gate checked my wheelchair again, and boarded the plane to Miami; we could almost feel the sun on our faces.  The airplane taxied out onto the runway, and stopped, and remained stopped.  Eventually we were informed that we were about to return to the gate as there was a problem with the hydraulic system and we would have to change planes.  The plane we were to board was located at the gate directly next to where the flight from Tucson came in at.  We had to wait for the wheelchair, and then make a mad dash back across the airport.  But we made it; we were still on our way to Miami.

Arriving late in Miami we were a little worried, our window was tight and we didn’t want to miss our connection to Montego Bay and wedded bliss.  We had to get our luggage and move to the International gate, so we hurried to the baggage claim station and waited.  Eventually our bags showed up and we made the mad dash to the gate, only to find that our flight had left without us.  I immediately found a manager and explained the delay in Dallas, that we were on our way to get married, etc., etc. what will the airline do to get us to Jamaica?  It was around 9:00am and we were told the only other flight to Montego Bay would depart at 6:00pm!  How could that be?

I had to get several managers and explain that we had paid to be in a luxury included five star resort, not the Miami airport, but all was to no avail, there simply were no other flights.

By this time my fiancé was in tears and I was calling on every thread of patience I possessed, but all the airline could do was give us an upgrade to First Class, and contact the hotel to make sure we didn’t lose our reservations.

I have to admit International First Class is very nice, and after a very frustrating day spent wandering the terminals of Miami International Airport, we finally were reaching Montego Bay, all would be well from here I was sure.

Upon arrival at Sanger International Airport in Montego Bay, we were told by the courtesy van that because we arrived so late our room was no longer available.  We would have to spend one night in a little Bed and Breakfast type Inn, before being taken to the resort the next day.  By this time I had had enough and quickly got the agency on the phone.  Could anything else go wrong, I was beginning to wonder.

Then, the manager on the phone assured me everything was being handled, that they would extend our stay one day, they would call the airlines and arrange the flight for a day later, and they would be moving us to Sandal’s Dunn’s River Falls the next day. At this point everything switched from frantic dealing with disasters to ‘island time” fantastic.

Even the little Inn was quite nice, and we began to relax. 

A few days later we were married on the beach and for 8 wonderful days we enjoyed meeting and knowing the people of Jamaica.  At an all-inclusive resort everything is covered; food, drinks, activities, everything except souvenirs within the resort was free.  Most of them even discourage tipping.  We loved every minute of the rest of our stay in Jamaica, until we returned to the airport.

There it was learned that the boarding was on the second floor of the old airport, it’s been rebuilt to a much nicer facility now.  Back then the only way to get to the second floor was by going up an escalator.  Now I have ridden escalators in my wheelchair before, and would have then, but the attendant told me not to, that they would simply come and take me to the plane.  They told my wife and me to just wait by a door, so we did.

As we continued to wait, and wait, we realized the plane was about to leave without us, so I asked my wife to go get on the plane and don’t let them leave without me.  She sprinted upstairs and boarded.

Moments later a nice Jamaican gentleman came and apologized and told me he would get me to the plane.  We had to exit the building and go across the tarmac to board.  I had no problem with that as I had taken flying lessons and was very familiar with roaming around the tarmac.  This nice guy was trying to hurry as much as he could; pushing me at as quick a pace as we could go.  He didn’t see the little cattle guard type drainage channel and my front wheels caught.  I went flying out of the chair onto the ground.  I was not injured; I just wanted to get on the plane before it left.  The poor guy felt terrible, but I let him know it was not a problem.

Other than the travel issues however, everything in Jamaica was so perfect and relaxing, we hated to leave at all.

Then we had our son, and started our own business, and before we knew it 12 years had passed.  We were finally in a place financially where we could take another vacation like that, but since so many people we knew raved about cruises we decided to do one of those.

Let me tell you, cruise ships are absolutely horrible for people using wheelchairs.  Between the split levels and step ups all over the deck, to the crowds pushing past you to get the slow elevators, to the narrow hallways, it was one of the worst experiences we have ever had.  We roll with the punches and rarely have a bad time, but that was terrible. 

We did, however, make several nice excursions including 6 hours on Jamaica!  It was truly the best 6 hours of the entire 7 day trip.  Upon returning we agreed the next vacation would be all Jamaica. 

We have now returned a couple of times to the Royal Decameron Club Caribbean, which is also and all-inclusive.  The people of Jamaica, just like at Sandal’s, made the vacation perfect.  Unfortunately, this year, the Royal Decameron was booked for the days we wanted to go, so we will be staying at Breezes Runaway Bay.

I will be writing several posts about the travel, security issues, and of course the resort and activities we enjoy this year as we celebrate Christmas Jamaica style.





Pushing Through

14 12 2010

By Thom Linders

Most of the lessons I have learned in life, I did not sign up for.  Today I am working through some personal issues, and work issues, among other things.  Sometimes, it seems like it would be easier to just give up, why bother.  I don’t really think anyone who knew the details would blame me, or would they?

Fortunately, it is not in my character to take the easy path, hardly ever.  Sometimes that is not necessarily a good thing, but today perhaps it is.  What exactly is character?  How is it acquired?  Why is it necessary?

The dictionary defines character as – the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

I would simply say it is who you are and how you handle things.  Do you crumble, do you hide or do you fight.  If you fight – do you fight fair, or is winning all that matters, at any cost.  What price are you willing to pay?

This goes back to how character is acquired.  Although the people around you influence your character and surely help shape it, the truth is your character is forged by the experiences of your life, and what you learn from them.

A person with a relatively easy life may “lack character” in that when a situation or circumstance confronts them they do not have the tools necessary to handle it.

Other people seemingly just always stay calm and unflappable because it is not there first time dealing with issues. 

Sometimes we seem to resist troubles in our life as bad things which we should try to avoid at all costs.  When things go wrong we simply ignore them or try to pass them off on others.  This is a shame it that they miss the opportunity to learn from those experiences and to deepen their character.

Take for instance the months following my accident.  I started off in Barrow’s Neurological Institute after being airlifted from Monument Valley Utah.  After several weeks in ICU to get my lungs cleared up and spine stabilized, I began to receive physical therapy.  I worked with numerous therapists; Beth was my favorite, for no other reason that she was extremely cute!

As my health improved I was moved to Good Samaritan’s Rehab Center.  A guy I met at Good Sam’s had been making progress against a neck injury and he had told me how he would try to work with the spasms he was having.  He would actually try to trigger them, and then control them.  He was a quadriplegic with a diagnosis of being totally paralyzed, but, he was standing on his own two feet.  I knew anything was possible, if I was willing to work through it.

His name was John, I doubt he ever ran again, or perhaps even walked unassisted, but he was standing and while holding on to parallel bars, he would cause his leg to spasm and while it was, he would guide it ahead for his next step.  I was amazed, and even more so, inspired.

Then, to be closer to my family, I was transferred down to Tucson, to St. Joseph’s Hospital.  At St. Joe’s I worked with a number of good therapist, and we began to see small movements.  So when I started to get some controlled movement I would try to push it.  Soon I was able – with my leg on a skate – to move slowly back and forth.  I hear people use the term baby steps, they have no idea what baby steps mean unless they have been through something like rehab.

Eventually, I convinced the therapist to let me get up between parallel bars myself, and to use electronic stimulation to cause my legs to move.  I was starting to control the spasms, just like John.  The therapist’s were still reluctant; they would remind me it was not sustainable.  I was, however, able to convince them to let me try a walker.  I hated walkers, they reminded me of my hypochondriac grandmother.  Being able to use one to move across an open room, and down a hall, however, was extremely exciting.

Every day the therapist would marvel and always run out and get the head of the therapy department to show them what I was doing.  The head of the department would always temper the news so as not to get my hopes up.  I could never understand what was so wrong with having hope?

It was during this time the Psychiatrist was coming to my room trying to convince me that I had to work through the coping stages.  I would explain to him that I was fully aware of what was happening and under no false promise of recovery.  But, I would remind him, I had no intention of accepting anything.  He was adamant that I had to work through the process, insisting I was just in denial.

About this time I was released from St. Joe’s and told I could continue to come to Outpatient Therapy.  I was happy to do this, although I felt bad for my family having to shuttle me there a couple of times a week. 

Making matters worse, the “exercises” they had me do at home were simply keeping me stretched, not helping me progress.  When I would go to therapy I often would see a regression.  That would not do.  I knew I had not reached my zenith, I had to figure something else out.

It was at this time the Psychiatrist informed me that I would not longer be eligible for physical therapy, but that insurance would cover me continuing to see him.  He was the last person I wanted to continue to see.

Instead, I remembered a small public park a half mile or so from my sister’s house.  I was staying with my sister and brother-in-law, you will get to know him more in future posts.  During the day I had little to do, especially since I couldn’t get any more therapy.  One day I decided to go to the neighborhood store on my own, it was only two short blocks away.  Getting out and feeling a little independence was nice, I got a little dizzy, but it felt good.

After a few more days of wheeling down to the store, I went to the grocery store, it was at least a half a mile away, but all residential streets.  That was very encouraging.  I started remembering the park, surely it wasn’t much further.

At first I had my brother-in-law’s brother take me.  He was a firefighter and was willing to help me figure things out.  He would drive me to the park and help me get up between the children’s parallel bars and spot me as I would shuffle back and forth the short length of the little gymnasium.   Soon I was stepping through and he would coach me to try to bring my knee higher.  It was working, but he would only be available a few days at a time, then not available for a few days.  I needed more.

I began to roll down to park on my own, and daily spend hours pushing myself until I was fatigued and then rest.  Push, rest and repeat, it was like shampooing my hair, only much harder.  A little at a time I began to loosen my grip on the bars, and soon was simply letting my hands hover above them, only using them to catch myself.  It wasn’t fluid, it wasn’t pretty, but I was walking, and it was awesome!

Eventually, with my firefighting friend standing beside me, I decided to leave the comfort of the bars and attempt to walk across the grassy football field in the middle of the park.  I would take a few steps forward and begin to fade to one side stumble a little and often fall.  That was alright, it was character building.

Soon I was walking the length of the football field, turning around and walking back to my chair.  I did this daily for weeks, but could never quite get to where I had enough core strength to not occasionally tip over, and I never was able to get up off the ground without something to climb up.  Falling in a hot Arizona parking lot, for instance would be disastrous.  This meant that for all practical purposes I could not walk without some sort of assistance, but at least I knew I could do it.

At this point I went to my primary care doctor and ask if he could get insurance to pay for some sort of crutches.  He was a little puzzled, as he thought I was paralyzed from the chest down.  At first he was concerned that I might hurt myself trying to do something I was not able to do.

He asked, “Why do you want forearm crutches?”

As I stood to my feet, I answered, “Because, if I had some, I would not fall down as much.”

He got me the crutches.  Eventually one broke, so I learned to use only one, then I moved to using a more user friendly cane.  This however resulted in me damaging my knee from the way I walked, and after a few surgeries, I have returned to using the pair of crutches.

For a number of years I used the cane and crutches, but the more I used them the more I found my shoulders getting damaged, and so I only use them in the house, at church and to walk short distances, like into a store, these days.

I was too proud to use my wheelchair for a long time until I recently realized it didn’t make me any more pc, it just gave me more mobility and the ability to carry things.  Now that I use one for work and to go to sporting events and vacations I have realized that everything I went through was just building blocks to who I am.

When life throws obstacles at me I don’t panic, I simply push through.  It’s all in my character.





14 12 2010

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The Blessings of God!!

12 12 2010

 

I try to let every day be about God.  I spend time most mornings reading my Bible, praying and asking God for the power to give myself fully to Him.  I do this because I know if I try to do things on my own accord, I likely will not do them all that well.  I have seen my work.

While I try to keep this focus everyday, I especially try to set Sunday apart as a day where I let my body recuperate, and the only real work I do, I do for God.  I do not do this because I am somehow better than anyone else or special in any way.  I do this simply because God has blessed me with the opportunity to do this.

Shortly after becoming a Christian we had began attending a local Baptist Church with an Awana program.  This is a children’s ministry and at the time my son was about five years old, in kindergarten.  My wife had attended an Awana program as a child and thought our son would enjoy participating also.  She even volunteered to assist the Sparkies club leader as helpers are always scarce in these types of programs.

They met on Wednesday nights, and the rest of the church had a Wednesday night service.  I would spend an hour or so reading my Bible while waiting for the main services to start.  It was the first time I had read completely through the Bible and the more I read the more I could feel God changing my heart.

Soon I was asked if I would mind listening to some kids recite verses.  Sounded simple enough, and yet terrifying.  I was barely qualified to call myself a Christian, how could I teach?   I was assured there was no teaching involved, just listening, so with great apprehension I gave it a try. 

Some time later we changed churches, someday I may write more about that experience, but I believe with all my heart it was God moving us to the next step in our spiritual growth.  We had learned to believe, we had learned to trust, we had learned to serve; now God was going to teach us to lead.  The church we found ourselves joining had a great group of families, lots of Vacation Bible Study energy, but no children’s program’s aside from Sunday school.  Working with another couple and a small group of volunteers we started an Awana program.  A year later that other couple left our church and for eight years I was blessed by God to be able to serve as the leader of the Awana Ministry for our church.

I call it a blessing, and it was, yet it did not always feel that way.  Many Wednesday nights I would grudgingly drag myself to the church and remind myself that there were only three weeks left until the break, or nine weeks left in the year.  This is not how one’s heart should feel toward ministry, but at times, it was how mine felt.  I loved the kid’s, but there was so many issues to deal with, infighting, shortages of help, the “problem” kid, or just plain fatigue.  Still, at the end of almost every night I felt simply blessed to have been allowed to participate in the work that God was doing at our little church.  I would wonder how a sinner such as I, so freshly converted from a life of godlessness could possibly be entrusted to reach kids with the Gospel of Christ.

As a new leader I found myself often making the same mistake, I still do.  I would study, I would prepare, and I would have a complete fool proof plan of what I was going to do.  I knew how I was going to teach the kids about God.  I thought I had a surefire plan to bring them to salvation, but I was mistakenly trying to do it on my own.  It was on those sad nights I would fail miserably, as only God can save.

This is not to say you should ever approach anything without adequate preparation, but God’s salvation is available to anyone who believes, and God will use our weakness to reach others.  When we try to use our own strength instead of His, we simply are reminded how weak we really are.

My wife and I lead the Awana program for eight years, during which time we saw numerous children trust Christ as their Savior.  Every time it happened, I was humbled to even be a witness to it.

Along the way we also took over teaching Sunday school classes.  I started with the youth, and eventually took over the 3rd and 4th graders.  My wife had the 3rd and 4th graders but moved up to the 5th and 6th grade class.  I now am beginning to see the children of young adults who used to be in my youth class moving toward being part of my Sunday school class.  It is amazing, but I am not writing this to boast about myself, or even to preach about Jesus. 

I am writing this as another example of how a pc person can change the perception of the world around us.  I am grateful that my wife took the initiative to ask me to help in Awana at that other church.  I do not think the leaders there would have asked.  She knew I was never one to back down from a challenge.  In truth it is more likely that I will get us involved in things that result in her having to do the heavy lifting once I come up with a new idea.  You will see many examples of that, I am so thankful that I have a wife who is willing to do all she does.

After eight years I could feel complacency creeping in and after much prayer I trusted that God would provide the next leader, and He has.  I moved into Sunday school and more focus on music ministry.  I play guitar in our praise team.  I have played guitar since I was ten years old, but never all that well.  Even now there are better guitar players in our church, and worse.  All I can do is believe that it is what God wants me to do, then to work as hard as I can practicing, learning new techniques and skills, and then turning myself over to God to use as He sees fit.

On Sunday mornings I have seen some looks from people wondering why the guy on the forearm churches was teaching a class or getting up on the stage to play.  I have seen little kids look at my wheelchair at the beginning of an Awana session and assume that perhaps I should not be the one to lead.  But, like I said, it gave me the opportunity to change people’s perception and expectation of what a pc person is capable of.

I am thankful that my wife encouraged me to step forward and serve the first time, I would encourage each of you who are pc to step forward.  Believe in yourself and take a chance.  Once you get the opportunity, refuse to fail.  I do much of this in service to God, because I know He will replace my weakness with His strength, but I have also applied it to work, and in most areas of my life.  The main thing is raising your hand to say “I’ll do it!!”

Furthermore, if you are a manager, a leader, involved in some form or service or ministry to teaching, etc. and you know a person who is pc, please don’t sit there wishing you had more help, ask them to help.  My guess is most of us would gladly get involved and the more we do, the more confident we become and more able we realize we truly are.





Tales from the road

12 12 2010

I will call this section, tales from the road.  It started several years ago; I needed a way to get in shape.  As I was in my 40’s most of the activities I tried were simply too demanding or equipment intensive and yet, I was getting soft.  What to do?

One morning I woke up early and could not fall back asleep, and I knew we needed creamer for our morning coffee.  The nearest store was about 2 miles away, and the thought occurred to me, I could simply get in my wheelchair and roll up there, get the creamer and roll home.  My wife would not hear the car leave and just be pleasantly surprised that we had creamer.

My memory is that the moon was very full and it was almost like daylight, but the temperature was beautiful, must have been a summer morning.  I rolled to the Quickmart and upon reaching that distance realized I could easily make it another couple of miles to the Fry’s store.  I pushed on.

By the time I got home my wife was awake, but quite happy to see my bringing creamer.  She was a little taken aback by how I chose to travel, but as I explained to her, the endorphins must have taken over, it was exhilarating.

As the day wore on I could feel the soreness in my out of shape muscles, but only enough to realize this was the perfect new way for me to get some quality exercise.  “Rolling” became a new hobby.

As a father I was always looking for ways to share activities with my son, and when my wife suggested I take him with me I was more than willing.  From that first roll with him on I realized there was a lot of time to talk about life and stuff on the road and saw the opportunity for some strong bonding time.

He rolled along on his BMX bike, I in my chair.  Soon we were rolling after work every day, normally about 5 miles, and then on Saturdays we would go all the way to the Cracker Barrel restaurant about 6 miles away, and then after breakfast, we would roll home.

We have tried to keep up this routine for years, but with him now in High School, and my shift changing, and well, life, we had slipped out of practice. Until last Monday.

Realizing we had a three day ski trip scheduled for Colorado in 3 short months, I felt a renewed urgency to get back into shape.  Sure, I should have done this months ago to be ready for our trip to Jamaica next week, but… well, better late then never.

We began last Monday after work, a nice little four mile roll.  It felt good.  Tuesday, not too much soreness, we kept going.  Wednesday, I had to roll on my own, he had tutoring – math!  Still, he caught up with me before it was over.  By Thursday we were adding some distance.

My Friday shift is much later, so we passed on that one, but I was looking forward to an epically long roll for Saturday.  We couldn’t go first thing in the morning, like we like.  I had an appointment to take my car in for servicing. I also needed to get a little something for my wife for Christmas, since she reads my blog, I will have to tell you all about that after she gets it.

We have an RV that we use for camping in the summer, but to avoid letting it sit too long I try to take it out for a spin once a month.  My son pushed for that to be today, as it was the only day he could go with me.  So, I fit that in.

By this time he was suffering from a bad headache, so he decided he would have to skip the roll.  I was determined not to let myself use convenient excuses, besides, he is in good shape, and I need the exercise.

I decided to go much further today, about eight, maybe nine miles.  It was a great roll as far as my body goes, but it was a little sad.  Rolling alone I had plenty of time to think of the important things in life, and plan my schedules coming up and all that, but he adds a lot of shall I say entertainment value, to the experience.

Like last Monday, having not ridden his bike in several months, and having grown considerably during this time, something not uncommon with 16 year olds, he was suddenly much larger and stronger than he was used to being while riding his little bike.  He decided, while I was getting my wheelchair out of the car, to pop a wheelie.  Seemed simple enough, but when he put his foot into it and pulled back, he suddenly found himself lying on his back in the parking lot.

Or Tuesday night, as we had barely enough light to see the sidewalk, he decided the little hill next to us looked like a good place to take a detour.  Giving a little added thrust and pulling up on the handlebars, he went sailing off the sidewalk.  This is when he found that the dirt on the newly created hill was quite soft and his front tire dug in causing his body and rear tire to promptly tumble over his front tire.  I have to admit, I didn’t see much of that only a shadow, like I said it was dark.  He was a bit ahead of me as well, but that’s because he can ride his bike much faster than I can push my wheelchair.

I had none of that today, or the lively banter we share as we roll.  Hopefully, tomorrow will work out to where he can join me, and I believe I have to build back up to were I can roll that distance daily if I am going to be able to take Purgatory three days in a row!

I will keep you informed.  Until then, I encourage you to find a “thing” that you can do.  It’s easy to find things we can’t do, and that is true whether you are an Olympian or a pc person recuperating from an accident.  But, why look for limitations, look instead for opportunities. 

May God bless you as you find you “thing”.