|Elizabeth and her Dad, James D. Deane|
It wasn't until one little old man told me that there were just two people in the world who he admired more than any others because of the courage they had due to succeeding to live a life with pain and suffering and not taking everybody down because of it.
The first person he admired for his courage was his own father who had been crushed between two railroad cars of a train and carried to the station where a doctor sawed off his leg. It was the early 1900's. they did things that way back then. This amputee lived out his total of 86 years with, at first, a very heavy wooden leg for forty years. Then. after all that time, he had a surgery to correct the first botched surgery, after which a new modern lightweight artificial leg was provided. This man worked a job until the day he died. I can see why this man was considered courageous.
The second person was me. This little old man, age 90, was my own father who told me this a few months before he died. I cried to know my father had kept those secret thoughts about me for so long, but terribly grateful he told me.
I have learned that courage is in the eye of the beholder, and you never know who admires your courage. Even though I did not (do not) feel courageous, when others say they admire my courage, I now let them say it and I graciously say thank you, reminding myself that there must be something I do or did that deserved that badge of courage.
Sometimes during those eleven years and seven surgeries, I cried and complained. I wanted to die and just get it over with. Sometimes I thought I would go crazy. I felt I had no choice. I couldn't escape my circumstances. I just had to keep experiencing what came next. I felt like a victim of circumstances, not courageous at all. It amazes me that I'm still here. I made it! So maybe that did take a little bit of courage to get through it all.
It was not easy in my own eyes to think of myself as courageous, but now I can finally see it. I hope you will too. Realize that you can be afraid or be feeling discouraged and still have a courageous spirit. If life gives us a precarious path to follow and there is no getting off the path, all we can do is keep going even with the fear or pain or emotional trauma. That takes courage. Anyone who has faced adversity or suffered a loss or even stress that can get through to the other side of those things has courage. Keep in mind that like a soldier who has no choice but to face whatever it is he has to do, he does what he has to do whether he is afraid or not. He may not feel brave. But, he keeps at it even if he is afraid.
What I try to do is put one foot ahead of the other and keep going. As they say, the only way out of fear is through it. This goes for any kind of pain and suffering, too, in my opinion. Accepting whatever is happening is half the battle.
Speaking of battles. When it comes to cancer, people will say, he or she is a cancer warrior. I feel that anyone who has a medical challenge can be considered a warrior. Like any warrior on the battlefield, there is nowhere to run. You have to stay and fight the battle. If you have to fight for your life, then that's what you do, even if you do it kicking and screaming and crying and wailing. You get through it.
And now I have leukemia. But, that's another story... er... battle. Stay tuned.