Friday, June 05, 2009

Wheelchair Steve

Last week I had my six-month check up at the Center for Prostate Cancer at the University of Minnesota. I arrived fifteen minutes early only to be informed by Cynthia that the appointments were running forty-five minutes late.

Waiting rooms in cancer centers are places of tension—you can feel the tension in the air. People coming here are finding out two things: How bad is my cancer? Or has it come back? Add to this tension a full waiting room, appointments running forty-five minutes late and as usual, no one talks to one another.

Then a grey haired man rolled past me in his very unique wheel chair. He turned it around quickly, and with purpose, backed in next to the aquarium and threw me a big smile. I knew from the first glance this was some one special.

His smile was infectious; I said to him, “It’s a good day” (Boris’ influence on me).

He smiled and said, “Yes, it is a good day.”

I asked, “How long you been in the chair?”

“Thirty-two years,” he said with a smile. I was impressed. Thirty-two years and he is able to still have a positive, outgoing attitude.

He said, “I was seventeen, thirty seconds into my first shift of the first hockey game of my senior year. I was hit from behind, I fell flat onto the ice, slid head first into the boards, and I was paralyzed from just below my chest.” (He has restricted use of his hands.) He still has a twinkle in his eyes and possesses a quick wit.

”Being in a chair is not all bad,” he said. “How far did you have to walk to get here?”

I replied, “About three blocks.”

“I parked in front of the door.” He laughed.

We shared a short introduction and I learned his name was Steve. His positive upbeat attitude cut the tension in the waiting room. People did not talk but Steve knew everyone was listening and he didn’t miss his opportunity to inspire.

His business is inventing things to help handicapped people. Steve’s wheel chair is one of his products; he has invented exercise equipment and other devices to make life easier for handicapped people. He sells his ideas to various manufacturers. I asked the questions and he answered loud enough for everyone to hear. All of our spirits were lifted.

He asked why I was there. I told him I was there to see if my cancer had come back. His situation was the same as mine. I said to him, “The Lord has been good to us.”

“He sure has” was his reply.

Steve wheeled in for his appointment with a smile on his face, shaking my hand before he left. The attitude in the waiting room had changed. Tension was reduced and our anger at being late seemed to evaporate into thin air. People began to talk to one another.

As I was called in for my appointment, Steve was coming out. He touched my hand and with a big smile said, “Everything is OK; I hope the same for you!” We had tears in our eyes.

He said, “We’ll meet again.”

I said, “Yes, we will meet again.”

We will meet again, probably not in this life but in the next life. Once again the Lord was good to me; my cancer has not returned. Add to this good news the blessing to meet “Wheelchair Steve.”

In the midst of this darkness, Steve let his light shine. A transformed life lived out in our presence. A testimony to God’s grace and love.

No comments: