Forty years ago I lost a half of each (I know, that tow halves make a whole finger) of the first two fingers on my left hand. It was a home woodworking accident on a jointer- planer. Apparently I have a proclivity for doing everything the hard way because the injury got infected, I ended up back in the hospital for over a week while they cleared the infection.
Naturally there are always post surgical visits to the doctor’s office. I was sitting in his office waiting to go in for my first post infection/post surgery check. It had been a tough couple of weeks, I thought…
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, really down when this little 3-year old boy came up to me and asked, “Say mister, what happened to you? Does it hurt really bad? Did your mommy kiss it? Can I kiss it? It really will make it better.”
I started to answer him with some self pitying trash when I noticed that he had his whole right hand, no his right arm just above the wrist, wrapped in a surgical cast. It was obvious that he didn’t have a hand. Instead of answering him I asked, “What happened to you?”
“Oh,” he said shyly. “I stuck my hand under the lawn mower to get my ball…” Before I could say a word, he looked up at me and said in his age-old little boy’s voice, “It didn’t hurt that much.”
It suddenly dawned on me that here was this three-year old offering comfort to a grown man. I should have been concerned about him and his learning to live minus a hand. I picked him up and sat him on my lap and asked if I could kiss his “boo-boo.” As I was kissing his bandaged arm his mother came over scolding him, “Jamie, leave the man alone.”
I looked up at her and said, “Ma’am he’s not bothering me one bit. He’s teaching me a very important lesson and helping me grow up.”
She let him sit on my lap while we both waited our turns to see the doctor. Then and there I learned to never feel sorry for myself because there are so many others much worse off than I will ever be.
We finally took our turns seeing the doctor and I remember asking my doctor, Dr. Horrell, about the little boy and him saying that that was basically what had happened. The doctor pointed out the added fact that little Jamie didn’t say anything about his father not there when the ball rolled under the mower. He had gone off and left the mower running with a little boy playing nearby. The doctor was quick to point out that the father was paying an immeasurable price for a careless mistake.
The impact of meeting Jaime and finding out about his problem was so complete. My mother had driven me and was with me because my then-wife didn’t drive and dad was at work. On the way home she commented that the look in Jamie’s eyes radiated sympathy, understanding and compassion beyond anything she had eve seen.
What triggered this recollection and desire to share it was an e-mail I received a short time ago. I looked at it, thought about it and looked at it several more times. The little boy in the pictures reminded me of Jamie.
It’s only hours until Thanksgiving and while looking through these pictures I saw a little boy with a glowing smile, twinkling eyes filled with hope, anticipation and determination. I saw a little boy who obviously has ignored his adversity and is embracing life with all the courage, warmth and vigor of an Olympic Gold Medalist.
He is a reminder that no matter what, there is so much in life for which we should be endlessly grateful and eternally thankful. No matter what, there are so many who are so much worse off than we are.
Probably the thing we should be most grateful for is the friendships and relationships we have been able to build over the years. When I think about the years that have gone by I think of all the people who have helped me in more ways than I can count. Because of them I have much to be thankful for… Because of Jamie I will be ever grateful for the lesson he taught me.
Happy Thanksgiving and may your life be filled with a cornucopia of blessings, one for your every need.