Accident Inspired Appreciation
“Don’t take anything for granted.” “At least you have your health.” Everyone has heard the phrases more times than they can count. And while we all try to appreciate what we have, it is very difficult to do so all of the time. Something doesn’t go our way and we grow sad, angry, or frustrated, and we begin to feel sorry for ourselves. And then we get bitter about everything that happens, irrelevant as they may be.
About eight and a half years ago, I was at my friend’s ninth birthday party. When it was over, my grandmother picked me up and told me that my dad had gotten hurt at work. At first I thought nothing of it. I figured it was something simple, perhaps a simple broken arm at the worst. My grandmother told me that he needed to have surgery that night. As a nine-year-old, your perception of things is very skewed. I didn’t really understand the concept of surgery very well. I immediately assumed that his life was in danger, and I was silent for the entire trip to Kaiser Permanente Hospital. I was unable to see my dad that day because he needed to be operated on right away. However, my mom assured me that he would be fine. He had been working on a fourteen foot ladder and it had snapped in half. He fell onto the concrete ground and shattered the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg. The bones in his ankle had to be fused together for support, and he had skin grafts taken from his thigh and transferred to his ankle. He now has no mobility in his right ankle.
Luckily it was not nearly as bad as my reaction as a nine-year-old. His life was not in jeopardy, but it was certainly a reality check. I was hit with a sudden wave of appreciation for what I had. Over the past eight and a half years, my dad has been through thirteen surgeries on his leg. The last one was almost a year ago, when he had his foot amputated. And I have never heard an ounce of self-pity from him. He has never complained. He has taken it all in stride, despite the fact that it has completely altered his life. If it had been me who had been injured like that, I would have been devastated. When I think about how my life would be different if I had an injury like his, I know that I would feel very sorry for myself and asked why it happened. He never questioned why it happened, he just took it head on. Every time something negative happens to me, I think about how my dad faced his obstacle, and I do my best to do the same thing. Although I don’t always succeed in this, I try to shrug it off and move on. I have gained a lot of perspective and realized how truly lucky I am. He has really taught me to appreciate everything I have and not take anything for granted.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.