I have Muscular Dystrophy, yep, I am one Of Jerry's Kid. MD is a disease that affects the muscles and as the years go by one gets weaker and weaker. My brother Brad, had MD, also, our parents were told not to make great plans for us because we would both most likely be dead before the age of sixteen. Our parents didn't do what the doctors told them to do. They took us home and treated us like any other children. They moved from Iowa to Arizona to get us out of the cold weather to better our chances of not getting pneumonia which is very deadly for MD sufferers. Our mother fought to enter us in the local public school one half block from our home. Her argument was they may not be able to walk, but they can think. This was 1963 way before PL 94-142 (the law that gave everyone the right to a public education). For some crazy reason, the principal at Holiday Park School in the Cartwright School District agreed. We both attended public school, we both attended public high school, we both went to college but Brad was unable to graduate when things became more difficult for him. (Brad died two weeks before his twenty-fifth birthday and he went down fighting.) I became a teacher even though a counselor told me I was wasting my time because no one would hire me. When I graduated from Arizona State University, I applied for a job in the Cartwright School District hoping that it was as forward thinking in 1978 as it was in 1963. It was and I have been teaching in the Cartwright District for thirty-two years.
I just spent my Spring Break in the hospital with pneumonia. Whenever the nurses and nursing assistances ask me what I "do" and I answer that I teach school they're eyes almost pop out of they're heads. Unfortunately, they see me at my worst and weakest, so they are probably very confused as to how I could possibly teach when I can't even raise my hands above my head. As I was waiting for the paperwork to leave the hospital a sweet young (they're all young to me) nursing assistant named Ashley started up a conversation with me. Throughout our conversation she learned that I usually make an annual trip to the hospital with pneumonia, that I am way over my life expectancy, that I am still teaching, etc. And then she asked the question: How do you keep on doing it?
Believe me there have been times when I have felt that I was too tired to keep doing it. But my answer to her was this my life and this is what I do. You just gotta play the hand you were dealt. Some people are dealt royal flushes and some people are dealt nothing. One must do the best with what one is given and many times it is damn hard work and many times thoughts of giving up flows through one's mind. If every time things got rough and someone gave up, this world would be in really bad shape. Turn your hand of two pair, threes high into a royal flush, if one believes it can be done it can. I am always working for the royal flush!
Because I am always working for the royal flush, I have a bad distaste for whiners. I can only listen to whining for just a short amount of time because whining doesn't make the task any easier and it definitely doesn't make it go away. After a short amount of time of whining, I have to try to lead people to their royal flush and if the whining continues, I can get very snippy (okay, I am a bitch).
Another thing that keeps me going is my faith in God. One of my favorite songs is called He Keeps Me Singing. It was written by Luther B. Bridgers after he lost his wife and three children in a house fire. Now that is being dealt a lousy hand! When he was asked how do you do it?; he responded with the song He Keeps Me Singing. It is hard for many to believe that God is always with us. God has never promised a royal flush every time, all he has promised is that he will be with you through the good times and the bad times. I will know when God is ready for me fold and I also know that he will be there to rake in the deck.
Dear sweet (young) Ashley,
Do the best with what you are given. Don't settle for the lousy hand dealt to you, but fight for the royal flush. Don't be happy with okay. Don't be a whiner (in our short conversation I think I can say you definitely are NOT a whiner). Remember, God is always with you!
Who is Ashley? I bet she would love me! I wondered where you were!
The Flip Side
Is Ashley a doctor? My knee hurts and it is keeping me from catching those lizards!