The Man with One Leg
Note from Marcus*** This post is not about marketing, it’s about life. Now you know.
As I stood in the Charlotte Airport last week waiting for my flight, I noticed a stocky, burly man with a shining countenance and smile. Based on his athletic stature and crew-cut hair, I surmised he was ex-military. Apparently, the war had left a mark on this man, as he was missing an entire leg and crutches were now used in its stead.
Shortly after, an attendant approached him and asked if he’d like to go ahead and board the small plane (with its steep steps) that was waiting for us on the runway.
Curious to see how the gentleman would handle getting in the plane, I stood at the window and eagerly watched his approach. With the same smile continuing on his face, he slowly took the first step onto the ladder.
As the captain stood on top of the steps and a stewardess stood beneath him in case he couldn’t make it, I was mesmerized as the man slowly hopped up the steps, looking gratefully at the captain above and seemingly unfazed by the fact that so many eyes, mine included, were watching his every move.
Moments later, the man had entered the plane, but his positive attitude had left me impressed, grateful, and incredibly inspired.
On another flight coming home from Texas two weeks ago, I was seated behind two young siblings, one a boy about 7 and the other a girl about 9 years old. Within minutes of watching these two, I could see it was going to be a long flight. They were fighting, arguing, slamming the arm-rest that was between them up and down, and doing just about anything they could to cause a commotion.
Even worse, with each new disturbance the mother surprisingly said very little, and simply put her finger over her lips as to say “Shhh” to the children, only to go back to reading the book she was holding.
Being a dad myself of 4 relatively calm kids, my thoughts wondered as to how anyone could let their children act the way they were acting.
After two hours of watching these two go at each other with the mother saying so little, the plane finally landed.
As we were disembarking, a man sitting next to me asked the young boy if he was glad to have landed. His response was telling:
“Yes. This is our second flight today. On the first flight, my mommy was crying because we left Daddy in Georgia.”
As the boy said this, I looked at his mother flinch a little across the aisle. It was also in that moment I saw she was reading a book entitled, “Understanding your spouse.”
Suddenly, the previous two hours began to make so much more sense to me.
The two children had just said goodbye to their father.
The mother had left her spouse.
Tough times indeed.
It was in this moment my entire perspective changed. Instead of feeling frustration I felt compassion and my heart broke for these two kids that obviously had no idea how to deal with what they were going through.
As I boarded a plane heading to Arkansas two weeks ago, I noticed a man in his 70s with his aged wife leaned up against him. Her eyes were closed and her head buried against his neck, but what was so striking was this dear lady was shaking uncontrollably. Yes, Father Time had taken his toll and now she was essentially helpless, unable to control her movements, leading to a trembling that wouldn’t cease.
What touched me though was this man’s stoic nature. His face was stern yet loving, with something about it that seemed incredibly protective of his dear wife of what I’m sure was decades of companionship.
In short, he represented everything a friend and spouse should be, and I was moved by his example.
A Small Hand
As I hopped on a plane headed to Boston last week and saw what row I was sitting in, I could see a mother sitting in the first seat and in the middle was a little girl, 2 or 3 I’m guessing, buckled into a car seat. As I looked at the mother, I could sense her nervousness—likely worried as to who would be sitting next to her daughter and what the reaction would be.
Once I sat down, I could see why she was worried. The small child was handicapped and struggled to perform many of the functions the rest of us take for granted. Her eyes seemed to wonder, her arms would occasionally flail, and she appeared to be mute as well.
But amid all of this, she was a beautiful little girl with a magical smile. And when I would look at her and grin, she would return the favor.
After a while, she started grabbing my arm so as to hold it. Her mother would quickly ask her to stop and at first I acted like I didn’t notice.
About the 4th time the little girl grabbed my arm with her small hand and the mother began to ask her to stop, I gave her a simple look of assurance and told her everything was OK, and that as a father of four little ones myself, it was nice to have someone the same age of my youngest, sitting next to me.
The mother seemed relieved and for the rest of the 90 minute flight, I felt a little hand across my forearm.
Once again, gratitude filled my heart as thoughts and reflections on my own life, health, and children flooded my mind.
Life is an interesting adventure my friends. And if our eyes and minds are open, there are lessons to be had at every corner.
Such has certainly been the case for me over these last 3 weeks as I’ve flown around the country to do something I love—teach.
But in the midst of me attempting to be the teacher, I’m amazed at the ways in which life has found precious moments to instead make me the student.
To say I’m grateful would be an understatement…
Have a wonderful Monday everyone, and thanks so very much for all your support.