Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Rebirth Day; A matter of attitude

Okay, I’ve already acknowledged today’s date in my first post. For anybody who doesn’t know me, today is personally significant to me. It was this date, 15 years ago, that changed my life forever. It is the reason I’m writing this blog today. It is the day I was involved in an auto accident that blinded me and caused a ripple of events in my life that changed the way I do so many things.

Today is also the day I mark as my rebirth day. I was reborn that day in almost every aspect, short of a trip down the birth canal. I had to learn to walk and talk again after a two-month coma. I had to learn how to eat again, only this time I couldn’t look at my food as I got it onto the fork or spoon—a real feat when eating jello for the first time! I also had the chance to rethink my education and career choices. It was a freedom to start all over again and that is how I saw the events in my life, a real opportunity.

I truly believe it is that attitude of seeing that change in my life as an opportunity, not a curse, that has led me to find the level of fulfillment and success in life that I have. I’ve had many academic and personal achievements, but the best thing I’ve done is to find my wife of almost ten years as the result of that fateful day.

I am very happily married to a darling woman and we have the best 6-year-old son anybody could hope to have. I might add that I never would have met my wife if I hadn’t been through the changes of 15 years ago. I was speaking at a youth conference and talking about making good choices following my accident, and she came up to me afterward to follow up on something I had said about learning how to cook while blind. She is a high school Foods teacher and had a 10th grade student who was blind and wanting to learn how to cook. On that day, more than 11 years ago, we began a strong friendship that is the foundation for our marriage today.

The day of my accident, October 9, 1993, isn’t only significant to me. It was also the same day that
Marcus Engel,
A young Missouri man in his first semester of college,was also involved in an auto accident. Marcus went through more surgeries in the next year and a half, most of these above the neck, repairing the effects of a drunk driver when he struck the vehicle Marcus was traveling in.

No matter how good those surgeons were, though, they couldn’t save Marcus’ sight. Yes, that’s correct…he was blinded in an auto accident on the very same night I was. We were in accidents separated by a couple of states and about three hours, but our fates were joined on that same date.

And, continuing down that idea of fated pathways, we met about a year and a half later, when we were both at
The Seeing Eye,
In Morristown, New Jersey, getting our first guide dogs together.

We became friends and created a bond there that has kept us in touch with each other in many ways since then and I continue to count Marcus as a good friend. We have both also progressed a long way from those early days of adjusting to the blindness and the changes in our lives. We are both now married and have created well-balanced lives that I don’t think either of us could have ever foreseen 15 years ago.

In my life before that auto accident, back when I was a Texas prison supervisor, I used to tell my staff at shift briefing that the quality of their day will very likely be the result of their individual attitude. I believed that statement then, and believe it even more so today. Life really is all about attitude.

I don’t know what your plans for today are, but I will go out with my wife and son this evening and celebrate today. For me, it is special, but, then again, that is just my attitude.


Susabelle said...

Happy Rebirth Day!!

If it weren't for your accident, you'd have not impacted me in my work the way you have.

Ron Graham said...

Thanks, Susabelle,

I appreciate the feedback. This is one of those personal issues that has made me who I am. After that accident, I cobbled together resources and felt like I was reinventing the wheel, even though I knew others had gone before me doing this same task. However, they left a trail that was difficult to follow. I promised that I would gather and maintain resources and share them with others. That was the essence of how Access Ability got started, that desire to share resources and keep folks from reinventing that proverbial wheel.

Thanks again,