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By definition, my grandfather is handicapped. However, he doesn't act as though he is, and he certainly does not want to be treated in any special way.
In fact, most of the handicapped people in society do not appreciate being treated in a way different from anyone else. They just want to be accepted as human beings.
Some people become handicapped as a result of an accident. Others are born with their disabilities.
My grandfather was asleep one night on a Coast Guard cutter when another ship, a destroyer, appeared in the distance. The destroyer hit my grandfather's ship in the exact spot where he was sleeping. When he awoke, he found himself in the freezing water, watching his friends swim ashore to safety. They were leaving my grandfather there to die.
Luckily, an angel in the form of a Coast guard chef rescued him and sought out help. The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital bed without legs (from the kneecap down) and with a broken neck.
I admire the fact that my grandfather resumed a normal life-style after being released from the hospital two years after his accident. Not only did he get married, but he raised six children.
He used artificial limbs for a number of years while holding a job at IBM. After a while, though, he ceased using them because they felt too unnatural. Now, while enjoying the "retired life," his mode of transportation is a wheelchair.
As a young child, I remember how my grandfather's disability affected my life. I don't think that I even knew what the purpose of his wheelchair was. To me, it was just a toy, just another toy that my cousins and I could play with.
I almost always received a wheelchair ride around the house. I can't recall my grandpa ever complaining about those long wheelchair journeys down the hall to the bedrooms and the bathroom.
I am lucky for such a wonderful role model while growing up.
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