If I asked you to give me the definition of a friend, how would you answer? Someone you can call in the middle of the night to help you solve your problems? Someone you can talk to and spread ugly rumors about a family member or co-worker? Someone who lets you borrow money and doesn’t mind if you don’t pay them back?
However you define a friend, we ALL have at least one person or, in my case, several people we call friends who, in one way or another, add value to our lives and are there whenever we need them. This post is dedicated to all my friends, co-workers and family members who have helped me during my life and have helped me become the man I am today.
As I’ve mentioned in a few posts, I was born with spina bifida and am in a wheelchair. Only my family and one of my very best friends knows this, but some days I get really frustrated because there are certain side effects I have because of the spina bifida that are beyond my control.
One of those things I can’t control is that my legs sometimes get really tight and have muscle spasms that last from a few minutes to an hour in most cases. The spasms don’t really bother me because they usually happen when I am at home, but lately they’ve been occurring when I get ready to leave the house and go to work. My legs hit the steering column and make it hard to turn the steering wheel, which almost causes me to have an accident. This really makes me sad because I can’t help the spasms, and I’d probably be cited for causing the wreck, if I have one.
I’ve emailed one of my co-workers, who is also my very best friend, a few times when I get the spasms because I was frustrated and sad, and just needed to talk to someone about it. She has been very supportive and has helped me see the bigger perspective, and I could never, ever repay her or thank her for her friendship. She’s reminded me on more than one occasion that my problems pale in comparison to the love God has for me, and everything will be okay if I will only learn to trust in Him and put all my faith in Christ to take care of my needs.
One of the best parts about my job is that I am able to work on several big projects that will serve me well in the future because I get to work with several different departments in our organization and meet a LOT of very interesting, helpful people.
A couple weeks ago, I updated a big three-panel display that is on the lobby level of my office. I may have mentioned this previously, but the display includes a map, pictures and a list of the major road, redevelopment and parks improvements around the city. The panels or “frames” the pictures, map and listing hang in are really heavy and are fastened to the display with screw-on knobs that are really, REALLY hard to get off sometimes. When I got ready to hang the pictures up, I had to ask a few of my co-workers for help because there was absolutely no way I would have been able to do it myself. Every time I ask my co-workers to help me with the display, they never complain and even ask if I need anything else after we are finished. It really makes me feel great knowing I have friends and co-workers who care about me and want me to be happy and successful in life and my job. I could never, EVER ask for greater friends and would not work anywhere else in the world.
Before I go any further, I have to admit I am very proud of how independent I have become since I graduated high school and college, and it almost shames me to say I do have to ask for help when I need it. God bless my best friend, mentioned earlier in this post, she has always been there to remind me that everyone has disabilities and has to ask for help from time to time. She brings up a great point, and I guess I just forget that everyone needs help sometimes.
I’ve been driving for about 10 years and am currently driving a 2007 Chevy (another true American original… I’m the other one!!! :)) van, adapted with hand controls for the gas and brake; a seat that turns around, goes up and down, forward and backward; and a wheelchair lift. I have not had much trouble with the van, but have noticed the past couple of years, when the weather gets hotter than about 75 degrees, that the lift won’t operate properly. I am able to open the lift doors (with a remote control, how cool :)), but the lift won’t even make a sound to act like it wants to open. I’ve tried to open it three or four times, and have even had to call my dad to come down and help a couple times. After about twenty minutes, we finally managed to get the lift to open, but it still acts funny every now and then.
I know a couple times last year, when my dad was out of town, I had to get my supervisor and my best friend to come out and help me get in my van. God bless them both, having to get into a hot van, try to read the directions for how to operate the lift manually, trying their best for about 20 minutes until it FINALLY opens, and then staying with me to make sure I am able to get in and try to open and close the lift to make sure it works, then making sure the van actually cranks.
This actually happened last Thursday, and I would have been stranded if my best friend hadn’t still been upstairs setting up our Citizens Government Academy session. After I tried to open the lift about three times, I thought about her and walked upstairs to see if she would give me a hand. (Thank goodness she didn’t start clapping, I probably would’ve had to smack her :))
After she finished setting up snacks and drinks, we walked down to my van, and together we got my lift out, and I was able to get in and go home. My best friend is such a sweetheart, and I owe her so much that I could never, EVER repay. I just hope she knows how much she means to me and how much I admire, respect and love her. She has always been there for me since she started working for our company, and I remember the very first time she was really there for me.
A month or two after she started working for our company, in 2008, I got a phone call that my grandmother was in the hospital having some tests done, and my grandfather was trying to leave and drive himself home. The nurse said they couldn’t get in touch with my parents, and they were trying to get my grandfather to calm down and stay until someone got there. My grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and wasn’t allowed to drive anywhere, so I immediately got scared and had so many things running through my head… is my grandmother going to be okay? What’s wrong? Is my grandfather wandering around by himself, trying to drive? WHERE are my parents when we need them?
I was so nervous, the only thing I could think of was to email my best friend and let her know what was going on. Within two minutes, she was down in my office, asking me questions, trying to help me examine the situation, asking if I’d called my parents (which I hadn’t in all the hysteria). She sat down and talked to me and told me that everything would be okay, and even let me cry on her shoulder for a few minutes. This really made me feel good inside and made me get on my knees and praise God for such amazing friends.
I know I can say with complete certainty that I am a MUCH better man and person because of my friends, family and co-workers, and I would be so lost without them in my life. My hope and sincere prayer for this year, and for the rest of my life, is that I can be half the person my friends and family are. I’ve learned so much during my life from them, have learned to put things in the proper perspective, and know that everything will be okay if I just put my complete focus and faith in Christ to meet all of my needs.
A Promise to Keep
If any of my co-workers are reading this, I have something to say, and I want you to hear me out. I am so, so sorry I have been neglecting you and haven’t come to visit or catch up with you the past few months. I have just been really, really busy and before I realize it, it’s the end of the day and time to go home. I know most of you can relate, but still it doesn’t make it any easier knowing I spend all my time in my cubicle, and another day goes by, wasted because I haven’t spent time with those who mean the most to me. It truly breaks my heart knowing I put my friends and co-workers at the bottom of my list when you should ALL be right at the top. You have absolutely no idea how much it lifts my spirit seeing all of you, talking about things, laughing and just losing track of time for a few precious minutes. I know some days I can be having a really bad day, but whenever I get an email or a phone call from one of you, it really puts everything in perspective and makes me really proud to work with a wonderful group of people, who genuinely care about me. Starting this week, I promise to come see you more often and to spend a few minutes just talking about life and everything you’ve been doing (within reason). Watch out, some of you may not be able to get rid of me!!! 😉
I want to make a promise to my friends, family and especially my co-workers right now. I promise with every fiber of my being to be there whenever you need me, to spend more time with you and to be the best co-worker/friend/son/brother/grandson/cousin/nephew I can be the rest of my life. I love and respect you all so much and could never, EVER thank you all enough for the friendship, love, support and help during my life. I am a better man from having known you. God bless you all.