Being Thankful

This is a few words on thankfulness, which seems appropriate given our recent Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day in Canada, as well as the Americans giving thanks to the south.

There is a connection to feet, of course. Where it begins and ends, in a sense.

Years ago - about 30 - I was a first year student at the University of Regina. As with most young men of that age I regularly went from feeling sorry for myself and my cerebral palsy to feeling quite "cocky" about life and my place in it, new friends, the big city, rooms full of new learning, pretty girls everywhere...

Part of my routine in the first year or two - aside from reading books, writing papers and playing pool - was regular trips to Wascana Rehabilitation Centre where a beautiful physiotherapist named Sharon would regularly make me quietly weep with painful but necessary stretches of my hamstrings. This involved sitting on a therapy table with a towel which I held by the ends looped around my feet.. And I pulled. And pulled... All while trying to keep my offended and aching legs straight. It hurt. It was one of those days where I was more sorry for myself than full of vim and vigor. The sign on the wall in front of me was printed in that old dot-matrix script with a smiley face that said "No pain. No gain." What a horrible sign, I thought, to have at this place of torture...

Then I looked over, outside my own little spot of agony, to a fellow across the way. I am not sure why I focused on him. The room was large and full of people in varied poses of therapy. 
He was a First Nations fellow in a wheelchair. That wheelchair itself was not an unusual sight at Wascana. And his face looked content - or so I imagined - while he worked his upper body with some therapy equipment... He had solid muscles in his old body and seemed at ease, not weeping like me. He looked wise. And he had no legs from below the knees. They were wrapped in white bandages, ending at the seat of his wheelchair like two retreating glaciers. 

It was then - and only then - that my Mom's reminder that there is always someone worse off made sense to me. Years later I wonder what happened to that fellow. Was he a car accident victim? Or did he have diabetes and end up with amputations as a result? The latter was more likely, as I was to learn in my profession.

Still, that man seemed much more settled back then than I was. Hopefully we can all become as he was, still apparently thankful - and working hard - despite life's setbacks and losses.

Until next time, 

"Enjoy your feet"

Rodney Ashfield, BA, Cert. Rehab.
Certified Pedorthic Technician
Certified Pedorthist (Canada)