One Time At Camp

What has been the most defining moment of my life? What has made me become the person that I am? Upon thinking about these questions, I am immediately drawn to one memory from a couple of months ago. It was a 100° day at the end of July with the sun beating down in Northern Virginia. In other words, it was an unbearably hot day and I knew that when I got back, I would have a serious sunburn despite the large amount sunscreen I had put applied. Why was I there you ask? At that point, I was not completely sure why I was there either. On paper, I was there because I was with a Church camp and we were supposed to go out and help repair people’s homes. I wondered what had led me to make the decision to sign up to be here. I knew when I went that it would be hard to build a wheelchair ramp for a handicapped woman, but I did not know what I was getting myself into. In my mind, I could not wait to get back to the school that we were staying at and sleep on my comfortable air mattress after taking an ice cold shower. When I arrived at the home that I was to be working on, I did not know it at the time, but I was about to have a conversation that would change me forever.

We were to be working on building a wheelchair ramp for a handicapped woman. We arrived and instantly, she and her husband came out of their house with their granddaughter. As soon as I saw them, thoughts began to race through my mind. Were they nice? What was their story? Would they be grateful or would they be like the people I helped last year and not even talk to us? When I saw the woman that we were to help, I couldn’t help but feel deep sorrow for this woman because she had been paralyzed from the neck down. Her husband had been driving, lost control of the car they were in, and it flipped over. The husband escaped unscathed but the wife was unresponsive, blue, and unconscious. After 3 years in and out of the hospital, she was relatively stable and was able to come home for longer periods of time. Her story was touching and I realized how lucky I am to be healthy and alive. Because I had read their story from a paper earlier, I already had assumptions that these people were going to be old, depressed, boring, and partly scary. As soon as the woman started talking, all of those preconceived ideas were wiped away and I was in awe of her words and disposition.

We were in their backyard setting up all of our tools, supplies, and water when she came. Her husband opened the sliding glass door of the deck that we were to build a ramp on so that she could talk to and see us. She was a couple of feet above us and the sight was beautiful. It was beautiful because of the way she was able to inspire us from sitting in the wheelchair. Being above us, she was able to project her voice and we could see the passion and gratitude that she was speaking with. She began to speak and I instinctively knew that this was like nothing that I had ever heard before. She spoke with grace and was proud of her life and what she had overcome. She did not shy away from talking about the accident, but embraced the subject. She used details from the crash that were gruesome and painted a picture of exactly what had happened. Despite having read her story before, hearing it from her was as if I had never heard it before.

The accident she had been in was terrible. The car had flipped over several times and landed off of the road. She talked about her life in and out of the hospital and gave us more details that made her life even more fascinating. After talking about her accident, she began to speak of the miracles in her life and how she grew tremendously in her faith and was confident that she would make a full recovery and walk someday. Throughout her talk, she discussed how grateful she was for us to come to help her, which had surprised me because I usually do not see or even get thanked from the residents when I go to help these people. While listening to her talk, I noticed how caring her husband was. In addition to this, I would see throughout the week that he never left her side. They were still truly in love and despite the accident, were continuing on with their lives. Seeing her talk with passion inspired me to work on her wheelchair ramp because I had been so touched by her and her perseverance. I was amazed and I could not wait to start helping her.

The talk that she gave truly inspired me to become the person that I am today. It helped me to realize that anything that I have like a home, family, or good health could be taken away at any moment. She showed me how despite all of her hardships, she was making it through life and I could too. I am extremely thankful for everything that I have and every day I say thank you to everybody I come into contact with because I am genuinely grateful for everything in my life. I now live thinking about what I can do for others and how I can make a positive impact on another person’s life through my actions. I feel as if I am an overall better person because of the talk that she gave. I now go through life with a positive and more appreciative attitude, which leads me to do the positive things that I do for people every day. Today, I still keep in touch with this man and woman because they were a huge influence on me and I know that I will never forget what she said and how she said it during that inspiring conversation.





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