I was asked to contribute an entry to a friend’s birthday book so as to impart some of my life’s lesson to him.  In light of the recent tragedy and of life’s uncertainty, I hope it has universal applicability.  And here it goes…..

My words of wisdom to you are: live life fully. Live every minute like it’s your last so that you cherish the moment and the lesson that comes from it. Live life fully so that you have no regrets; you’ve left no stone unturned; and you’ve appreciated all that you have been given.

Go to bed each night knowing that you’ve given the best that is you and that you’ve imparted knowledge on someone or that you’ve lent a helping hand. Know that people matter more than possessions and each person comes into your life for a reason. Know that differences between people forge stronger bonds and allow us to appreciate that which makes us unique and that which makes us different.

But beyond living life fully, love fully. Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. And love your life. Surround yourself by positive and loving people so that you are filled with such a positive force that can (and will) sustain any and all trials and tribulations. Love each day that you have and bring it forward to the next, even when it’s hard to do.

And finally, do. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes others happy. Do what is right for you and for your family. Do good in the world. Do good with unsolicited expectation. And always do the right thing. And so it is.

On the first day of summer vacation in 1975, I was riding my brand-new Schwinn bicycle home when I was struck down and run over by a dump truck hauling gravel.   The weight of the truck crushed my left leg and the trauma of the event caused several fractures in my right leg along with hairline skull fractures.  

This was pre-life flight and while the ambulance was on its way, someone had covered my lower body with a blanket.  Unfortunately, by the time my mom arrived, the blanket was blood-soaked, much like the then current images in Time magazine depicting the Vietnam War.  

Rushed to the local hospital, we were turned away because it was not equipped to handle the trauma I sustained.  We were turned away from the next neighboring town’s hospital until we finally arrived in Rochester, Minnesota-to the hospital affiliated with the Mayo clinic.  

And that’s where this story begins…because of the severe crush injury, my left leg was amputated above-the knee.  I was fit with a cast on my residual limb in what was called an immediate post-op fitting.  The cast was fit on my residual limb (which I immediately referred to as my “little leg”) and it had an adapter at the far end to which a pylon (think prosthetic shin “bone”) could be fit.  From there, a SACH foot was attached and the entire “system” was my new leg.  

While 37+ years have passed since the day I took, my first steps in the parallel bars, I so vividly remember standing up from my wheelchair, looking down at my foot, and proudly proclaiming that I had a Barbie-doll foot.  And for a 6-year-old little girl, that was a thrill!  Maybe it was the innocence of youth or the naivete of childhood, but that’s where my life with limb loss began.