I’ve seen this couple training at my gym before, but this was the first time I saw them doing their entire 90 plus minute session with their wheel-chair-bound daughter by their side. The wife wheeled her into the gym right over to her dad when they began and he immediately pulled her out of the chair and hugged her and held her. I smiled at the mother and she walked over so I asked if everything was ok? Oh yes, she said, but her dad said he didn’t get to see the little girl right when she got off the bus so he had to see her now. So her mom took her out of the day care to see him. She said, he was her step dad and she couldn’t be more blessed to have him to help care for the little girl.
For nearly the next two hours I watch the couple train on numerous machines, racking and reracking weights. In between sets they would take turns pulling her out if the chair to hold her and then they’d wheel her to the next machine and do it all over again.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about their life and it reminded me of a time I had posted a video of me training and Anna was goofing off in the background. Someone commented that they felt sorry for her that she had to wait while I dragged her to the gym. I wondered if people would judge them for how they were putting themselves first when their daughter was handicapped, or if they would understand the couple was relieving stress, keeping themselves healthy and living like people should. They were ensuring they could be around to be healthy parents for the life of their daughter, to better care for her in the long run.
I wondered what that little severely handicapped girl was thinking, or if she could comprehend what her parents were doing. It occurred to me this was like on an airplane when the airline stewardess talks about the oxygen masks dropping….”put the mask on your mouth first then assist those around you.”…because you are useless if you don’t care for yourself first. I don’t know if that little girl even knew anything more than that they were loving her, probably like they always do…and as far as she was concerned everyone was spending family time together. It was beautiful and it made sense.
I’m blessed to have a healthy daughter, but, I would hope I’d have the courage to put myself first even if, God-forbid, Anna was handicapped. So I was happily reminded how blessed I am to be healthy with a functioning body, and to have a healthy child. Reminded not to take any of it for granted. Reminded that people find a way to make things work, whatever their situation, and reminded that love wins. It was a poignant moment. It shouldn’t take someone else’s trial to make me feel thankful, but it didn’t look like they saw it that way anyway.