My work inspires me – everyday. And what I find most inspiring are those people who are able to turn a terrible or traumatic situation into something beautiful. I saw this first with Bob. When I was 19, in my undergrad and knowing I wanted a career in health care, I applied for a job as an attendant care aide. Despite having no experience and only able to offer a positive attitude and helping spirit, I got the job. Bob was my boss. Bob had been rendered a quadriplegic when he was hit by a car. Bob described his life before his accident as “miserable”. He was very open about his previous unhappiness and spoke candidly about how his accident helped him to turn his life around. As I worked with Bob for many years we became quite close. Overtime, he started telling me about the feelings he was having for one of his other attendants. I listened and encouraged Bob to share his feelings with her. He did, and discovered that the feelings were mutual. They were soon married. Bob and his new wife lived a wonderful life – they traveled, spent time with friends and family, and just truly enjoyed each other’s company. I remained in touch with Bob and his wife over the years and was saddened to hear of Bob’s passing a few weeks ago. At the visitation I hugged his wife and together we spoke of the wonderful years they shared, and the joy they brought to each other.
I believe that when Bob had his accident he had choices – maybe not physical choices to walk again, or to be able to regain full use of his hands – but he had emotional choices. He could have chosen to be miserable, grumpy and difficult to work for. Or, to withdrawal from others and live reclusively. He could have resumed his previous poor habits that rendered him so unhappy in his adult years. He also could have decided to keep his feelings for his attendant to himself, fearing rejection. But Bob’s accident made him realize the preciousness of life and this helped him to make all the right choices and decisions that ultimately brought him joy, love and happiness in his remaining years.
We can all learn from the Bob’s of the world. And luckily enough for me I have a caseload full of them.