After witnessing a child’s suffering and anguish and having to endure one hospitalization after another, there is a natural inclination for parents to protect the child from further trauma. It was painful for my parents to see me subjected to trial after trial. It would have been totally understandable if they had simply kept me close to them for the remainder of their lives or my life.
I had defied every doctor’s prediction of a premature death. I had certainly come close to death on a number of occasions, but I had come to know that the purpose of my life was not to merely survive hospitalizations or to simply beat the odds of prognosis after prognosis that I would live an abbreviated life.
Ever since I had seen the photographs of FDR when I was four years old, I desired to succeed and to achieve. Because of that magazine and my parents’ faith in me, I was driven by the image and legacy of my hero—the president of the United States in a wheelchair.
Mom also instilled in me a belief that I had come to her and to this earth for a reason—there were significant things for me to accomplish. There were so many things to look forward to. In spite of my disabilities, I did not simply want to survive; I wanted to thrive.