Everyday Heroes. I got a call from Northwest Herald saying that a friend of mine wrote a letter recommending me as an Everyday Hero. Since my retirement, I have volunteered for various organizations including Adaptive Adventures which is featured here. My thoughts were that this award should go to my husband Larry instead who in the past has fixed up more than 2,000 bikes for the needy. He also has used his construction skills with Habitat, Willow, Bright Hope and Conference Point as well as helping many individuals. But I was chosen since I accompany him on many of these outings. It definitely is a time in our lives to give back and it is what has given us so much joy. If a person is wrapped up so much in his own life, he makes a small package. Enjoy the video and look for Larry as well.
I woke up this morning to the strong smell of “no” not coffee, but Bruce’s Hard Wood Ever Ready Polish. Larry had difficulty sleeping, so he decided to polish the living room floor. I bet there are a lot of wives out there who would love to wake up to the sight of their husbands polishing the living room floor. I am blessed with a 6′ 2″-240 lb.husband who is much more domesticated than I am. Larry cleans, cooks, and sews. Did I mention that he built our home? When I woke up at 8 AM Sunday morning, I thought I was smelling shoe polish on some very large shoes. But instead, he decided that our cleaning equipment was old and out of date, so he went over to Menards and purchased a new mop and broom. The house looked pretty good by the time I woke up. Feeling a measure of guilt, I took off to play tennis with a friend while he went to war against spiders and box elder bugs who have made their residence with us. The wood burning stove has been going all day making the house cozy with branches he cut down this summer. The neighbors call on Larry to cut down trees and branches—which means wood for the stove. I sure hope he sleeps tonight, but then again maybe I’ll wake up to the smell of fresh paint instead.
I peered into the sad eyes of a 25 year old 6’4”man named Bob sitting in a wheelchair. He had a handsome ruddy complexion and a desire to communicate. It wasn’t long before he told me his life story. Five years ago he was in a snowmobile accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. A few years later he lost his mother. I wanted to comfort him like I would my own son. My heart was heavy when he responded fatalistically, “It is what it is.” We talked about medical science and the progress they were making helping people like Bob and we talked about God and his plan for his life. “You know what I miss the most,” he said, “the adrenalin rushes. That’s why I am here at Adaptive Adventures. I was hoping to ski today but the slots are filled.” I put it on my calendar to be there when Bob tried a sit ski for the first time. Adaptive Adventures provides an opportunity for a handicapped person to down hill ski with an able bodied person. My husband and I love volunteering with them. As fate would have it, Larry was Bob’s teacher. They worked together learning to ski at Wilmot Ski Resort. Just like an able bodied skier, one directional turn can be stronger. But by the end of the day, it all clicked and Bob triumphantly cruised down the hill solo all the way to the lodge with Larry and his good friend following. He was ecstatic about his new accomplishment, and he certainly experienced an adrenalin rush. Bob now has a passion for skiing and other sports offered by Adaptive Adventures. Bob now has hope for a better, more fulfilled life.
The week before, Larry worked with a client named Ted who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force while Larry was merely an E5 in the Marines. This was quite a role reversal for both of them. Larry’s method of teaching was to treat the Vets as though he was their gunnery sergeant. “Turn left he would shout. Make it a harder left turn. Get up and do it again.” Ted, Larry’s client, was a pilot in the Air Force. When he was discharged, he joined the reserves and started working for United Airlines. But during the Iraq war, the Air Force Reserves took him from his job and family to serve where he suffered an injury as a result of a cargo plane crash. Today, he walks hunched over with a cane as a result of being partially paralyzed. But he has a passion for skiing and his dream is to join his lovely wife and child on ski adventures in Colorado.
While Larry worked with Ted, I volunteered with Vince, the gentle bull dog. He was a guerrilla sniper in the 80’s. He talked about his deployments in Grenada, El Salvador and Panama. He vividly recalled a rescue effort of nuns and priests in El Salvador. Sadly, they were all executed before his team of guerrillas arrived. Vince suffered trauma on his final deployment and currently has a rebuilt shoulder and hip. He also suffered a stroke that has limited his movement on the left side. My fellow instructor could understand Vince’s condition; he also suffered a stroke on the same side. As the only able bodied skier, my job was to demonstrate how to ski down the hill and to help Vince stay steady. We took him up on the magic carpet and worked on getting him down the bunny hill which looked like Mt. Everest to him. Vince did fall a couple of times and we wanted him to quit, but quitting was not in Vince’s vocabulary.
Larry and I both have worked very hard in Adaptive Adventures, but the real heroes are those that are overcoming their disabilities with courage and passion.
For more information, see www.adaptiveadventures.org.
The last three nights, it has rained in torrents. Fortunately, the days have been clear. We camped at Devil’s Lake with friends and our sweet little granddaughter, Natalie. At night, the rain pounded on our trailer and all slept through it, but me. During the day, we hiked around Devil’s Lake enjoying the beautiful scenery. Natalie and her friend Mikey looked for quartz stones and collected the gems in their pockets. After a delightful weekend of hiking, swimming and kayaking, we returned home.
It rained again last night, and Larry was busy tying flies in the basement when he said,”Oh no, it’s flooding in here.” So he donned his raincoat and boots and shoveled dirt near the base of our house to stop the onslaught. Now it was 9:30 PM and it was coming down like cats and dogs—–but it didn’t stop Larry. He came in like a drowned rat—-but he got the job done.
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