This I Believe

Jordan - Valley Stream, New York
Entered on May 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that strength has more to do with the mind, than with the body. It is a characteristic of the heart and soul. Take Franklin D. Roosevelt; polio left him in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, yet he was able to serve 3 full terms as president, and help pull our country out of the Great Depression.

About five years after my grandfather retired, after more than forty years as a barber, and ten years as a teacher, he decided to find something to do with his spare time. He thought that it would be a good idea to volunteer at hospitals, and cut hair for the sick patients. This idea was put on hold when at the age of 81, my grandfather fell over a crack in the sidewalk, while doing some ordinary chore for my grandmother, which he did so frequently. He was rushed to the emergency room. He walked out of the hospital that night. Sadly, more was wrong, than just a cut above his eye. They had found a blood clot and needed to operate. For months and months he went though test after test, from hospital room to rehabilitation center, and back again. Before this all occurred I saw my grandfather as this strong, invincible person; and in an instant, he went from the active, mobile grandfather that I knew, driving me to school, and making me oatmeal, to a sick and tired old man, sitting in a wheelchair in his hospital room. I remember the saddest moment of my life; telling him that I wanted to help him, I truly did, but due to the clot, I could not understand what he was saying. There was a point during this ordeal where I though to myself, maybe this is it, maybe he isn’t as strong as I thought, maybe he wasn’t going to make it. Thankfully, he recovered. His sight, hearing, and mobility are not what they used to be, but this is mostly from old age.

I spent a long time pitying him; I would always feel bad for my grandfather who had to live this way. Then, I realized that strength is not about how easy it is to get around, it is about the will to keep living through any obstacle. I cannot even begin to describe the pain he has been through in his life, but never has he failed to fulfill his responsibilities as anything and everything, that he is to everyone. That is strength.

My grandfather has aged on the outside, but not his heart or in his mind. I am thankful to him, not only for the stories and wisdom he has brought upon me throughout the years, but for showing me that strength is not merely a physical attribute, there is a difference between outer strength and inner strength. Outer strength is the kind that fades with age, but inner strength is the kind that last for a lifetime. This I believe.