The Man With No Legs Stands Tall
Monday, April 22, 2013 at 12:13PM
Cheryl Crotty

Lower Pool at the Condo.  Where the pool meets the ocean.

As I cruised the perimeter of the pool, hanging onto my noodle, I took in the sights happening around me...The pool connects to the deck of the restaurant of our condo...I did this exercise each day while in St. Maarten as a form of exercise because I could not walk...I have a blood clot in my leg and on the plane over, that leg swelled...and so I swam. I found this so annoying because my leg had been feeling so much better before the trip down. Although I like to swim, I don't like to be forced to choose this as my exercise of the day...My husband, on the other hand, was out walking and I was wishing I could be with him..I love to walk and check out all the estates in our area and it really does feel more like exercise to me...which I really love doing..but being faithful to my program, I swam instead.

A few days into this routine, as I was splashing around the pool..I happened to look up to the deck and saw that several people had come down for breakfast.   One of the men there was in a wheelchair. Just as I turned to view the deck he backed up...and I was very surprised to see that he had no made me feel sad for him and my assumption was he must have been in the military and lost his limbs during the war...never assume you know the answer to someone else's problems...lesson learned.   As I passed by, riding my noodle, the gentleman said "good morning" to me and I in turn, responded...and strangely enough or maybe not so strange because I can talk to a tree and have a lovely conversation, him and I started chatting...St. Maarten chat in the beginning..It goes something like this.. "is this your first visit to St. Maarten", Are you staying here",  do you own here", how long you been coming down",  what's your favorite restaurant",  you get the idea.   Then the conversation took a turn...

He started to tell me how much he loved being there. He had been coming for many years and owned 9 weeks of time share...I was impressed with that but my wheels were turning.  He then told me that he wanted to sell a few weeks as he wanted to spend more time in his beach unit,  down the bottom of the hill...yes, the hill..You see where we are is at the bottom of a group of hills and continues down one more steep level to the beach..It is hard enough to walk down,  never mind go down in a wheelchair...but he does it every day and he also comes up the hill in his trusty red magic machine...he proceeded to tell me how much he loved it here...and that each morning he drove his chair to the edge of the pool down below and then he was able to lift himsel to the wall and get into the water,no help needed, just a bit of muscle work...he gave me pause to think about how difficult his life must be even in this sky blue haven..


Coming up the hill from the Peli Deli..

The next morning as I was doing my best ever Esther Williams impression around the friend was there and I smiled and asked him how he was...his face lit up like a light bulb and he said "I'm doing great, how about you? Really, was I going to complain to him about my little blood clot or my sometimes headache...I think my response was the same..."how's the water" he asks...terrific and warm I respond.  I knew in that moment that what I said was was terrific and after 2 seconds of getting in, it gets warm..."enjoy your exercising he says"...thanks I say...Then I ask "where are you off to today",  "Oh I have to do a bit of shopping at the Peli Deli.."  He starts to back his chair out from the table and says, " time to go, I like to get up the hill before the heat sets in.  Off he went to the store,  climbing that hill in his electric wheelchair, and as I though of how difficult that must be,  my thoughts were really on how he was going to get down that hill. I was hoping his breaks were good.   A short time later,  I did see him coming back, his groceries were packed and tied onto the plate where his legs would normally be and he was zipping down the hill.  Though I feared for him if things didn't go well...I was amazed at his ability to live life to the fullest,  no matter what his disability..He was genuinely happy and enjoying his life, missing two legs at the hip didn't change his attitude..And folks attitude is the answer...

The view down to the Beach Condo's where my Friend had to go.

We all have difficulties to overcome and some have disabilities that are beyond our comprehension...but life is still beautiful and you have to find the joy and the love that you are entitled to each day.  You can't sit on the pity pot for long or you lose the goodness that still surrounds you.   A blue sky, birds singing, children and babies laughing, a loving pet who brings you joy and the love of your family and friends is always there to get you through the rough patches if you just let the light shine in...and yes,  sometimes we can get down, but we can't stay down. Funny, I'm sitting here writing this for the first time in a coffee shop..and have been able to ignore the chatter going on around me...but somehow I just "turned in" and the song playing is "only the strong survive"...karma or what..don't check out of life...we are each stronger than we think..

That man left the resort before me..and I missed him the next week.  He left a lasting impression though.  As I got in the pool that second week..I swam like a dolphin, no whining,  just doing it and enjoying it.  My leg was better but I still choose the pool.  I'd look up at that blue sky and think of my friend...and know that for me..the lesson is to keep on pushing forward.  There is so much more out there that I need to do and I need to do it with gratefulness and gratitude for all that I have..and by the way..that man did not lose his legs in the war..he lost them just three years ago to complications from diabetes...that was the kicker for me...just three years ago and he's up and running pity pot for him...he doesn't have time and neither do I.

"When two paths open before you, take the harder one."Nepalese Proverb

"Everyone must row with the oars he has."  English Proverb. 


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