I hope you read this post all the way through, because this man’s life is changing before your very eyes.
As I sit here and type, headphones on, I’m thinking about my new job with the paralyzed soldiers in Building 8; that’s where I work 24 hours a week now, for those of you who don’t follow me regularly.
If you would have told me last year, that I would be comfortable feeding a quadriplegic in a busy canteen, I would have told you that you have lost your marbles.
But there I was yesterday, escorting my new friend–and yes, he is quickly becoming my friend–Jim, down to the canteen for hot chocolate and a muffin. I was the one who suggested it. I was the one who paid. And let me tell you, it felt incredible.
At first I was intimidated by the environment. There are about 25 men living in Building 8. Almost all of them are completely paralyzed. I’ve made it a habit of forcing myself to go into their rooms. It’s a little daunting, but I am now almost completely comfortable doing it.
There’s Grover, an old crusty, who informed me that his name is not Grover, it’s Command Sergeant Major. Then there is Ron. Ron is your proto-typical stoner who owns 6 electric guitars that he can play. He also has one of the biggest private safes I’ve ever seen. Right in his room!
There’s one-legged Pete. Pete is surly to me every time I say hello or try to strike up a conversation with. My mission is to crack Pete before I leave at the end of March.
There are many other characters, but Jim is my favorite. He is full of sarcasm and put downs, and I match him blow for blow. I abuse him verbally and he abuses me. He beat me in chess yesterday and relentlessly tortured me about it. He also makes fun of the way I think, talk, look, and the way I call bingo–I call it using all kinds of voices and accents. He’s one helluva man, I’ll tell you what.
So my life is changing before my eyes. I never listened 3 years ago when my then psychiatrist said that volunteering would be incredibly good for my well-being. Now I know what he means. What a blessing in disguise. I might even go so far as to say I am actually happy when I am there.
Now THAT’S astounding to me.