… and yet another letter

March 9th, 2010

So many interesting responses to the links, and about last names! Anyway, as I’d mentioned earlier, there were also some letters in the last issue in response to my column with the grandmother who was upset over her granddaughter’s amputation. Most were positive and all were very thoughtful. I also received a letter from a friend of mine who has a family member who lost an arm in an accident. This is the same friend who has such a wicked, prankish sense of humor that I didn’t believe her when she told me Tori Spelling would be the guest host on the “Today Show.”

She certainly wasn’t pranking me in this letter, but as you can see, her sense of humor is a family trait:

One year ago, my 18-year old niece lost the majority of her right arm following a car accident. My niece (and her whole family) couldn’t possibly have a better attitude about it, given that moping won’t make the thing grow back. Some folks in their little Iowa town were somewhat taken aback about their sense of humor, but screw them — it’s not their problem! If having a laugh about it and not dwelling on “the sadness” helps them through, then have at it!

For example:

(1) Four days after the amputation, my niece came home from the hospital in the shirt she insisted that my brother bring for her: an “It’s only a flesh wound” Black Knight shirt.

(2) She sent Valentine’s e-cards to everyone (one month after injury!) with a picture of her waving her pink-wrapped stump and the sentiment: “I nub you!”

(3) Here is a list of “Stump Stories” that she and her family came up with, to make the story more interesting than just a car accident:

* College costs an arm and a leg these days, but some grants pay for half.
* An airline lost it
* Iowa Corn Shark
* You know when that guy says “Keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.”…
* Magicians assistant for a really bad magician
* I was a carny
* I just can’t have nice things
* Coyote ugly incident
* Police should have shackled both my arms
* My new (car, tv, etc) cost an arm and a leg but I got half off.
* A type of mating ritual
* Train hopping when I was a hobo
* Zombies
* Bad paper cut
* My arm? Oh, ARGGGHHHH!!(acting surprised)
* That mosh pit at Fall Out Boy was scary!
* Maybe a horse bit it off.(from BtVS)
* A new weight loss program. “Ask me how I lost 10lbs. FAST!”
* Mexican Standoff
* Well I’m definitely never gonna say, “I would give anything for a hamburger right now!” again…
* Taking candy from a baby is harder than it sounds

So this is the kind of girl who can lose an arm in January of her senior year, graduate on time and start college in the fall as expected, have lots of friends and not crawl into herself. I think the important factor here is that before the accident, she already had an incredible sense of self — she truly didn’t care what others thought about her, but not in a surly teen way. Instead, she just liked herself and her friends, and if you didn’t like her, that was OK. I’ve yet to meet a teen girl who is as well adjusted as she was and is, and I’m getting teary-eyed thinking about how proud I am of her.

What an inspirational — and hilarious — letter. I was laughing and crying as I read it. I’m certainly not saying that there is only one way to respond to a life-changing event such as this, or that it’s the job of people with disabilities to make others comfortable around them. (Although that is a very intriguing topic, and one I’d like to go into sometime.) But I simply had to share this with all of you.


13 Responses to “… and yet another letter”

  1. geekgirl99 on March 9, 2010 3:14 pm

    What a fantastic letter – thanks for sharing! Definitely the absolute best Monty Python reference I will ever hear. And I can’t make up my mind about which story is my favorite; so many great choices! Good for her, and for them.

  2. GP on March 9, 2010 4:15 pm

    I just can’t verbalize how much her attitude has helped me deal with my recovery. Thanks.

  3. Geri Sullivan on March 9, 2010 5:27 pm

    That’s the best example of turning lemons into lemon meringue pie that I’ve seen in years.

    Laughter truly is the best medicine.

  4. Shulamuth on March 9, 2010 6:11 pm

    Love it, but then I’m the one who remarked, the day after my husband’s death, that I was trying to think of it not as losing a husband, but as gaining a closet. I think macabre humor is the most useful humor in the world. A laugh when everything is light just fluffs things up a bit, but a laugh in the darkness lights the way out.

    (I think my favorite story is the suddenly noticing it’s gone bit. I’ve been known to suddenly realize I’m fat when people are being just a bit too helpy about what I should do about it.)

  5. Stupendousness on March 9, 2010 9:22 pm

    My siblings and I made a few jokes towards the end of my mother’s funeral. We had been quite distraught up til then, so I don’t think my poor heart could have handled another crying session. But then as my sister was placing framed photographs of family in our mother’s casket, one fell down into the side, out of sight, making a loud thunk. We both had to work hard not to bust out laughing, and it wasn’t even that funny. But we knew that if our mom were alive, she would have been laughing too.

  6. Molly on March 9, 2010 9:45 pm

    IOWA CORN SHARKS ARE SRS BUSINESS!

  7. ccr in MA on March 9, 2010 10:19 pm

    As someone who made a questionable-to-some remark at my father’s death bed (and made my mother and brother crack up), I totally applaud this attitude! Thanks so much for sharing it.

  8. akmom on March 10, 2010 7:40 am

    I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who uses humor to cope. I feel like I get the stink-eye from people sometimes if I’m laughing instead of crying.

  9. KellyK on March 10, 2010 12:05 pm

    Thank you for this awesome letter–I love that the girl came up with funny stories to explain it, and the Monty Python shirt is hilarious.

    Like a lot of people here, apparently, I use warped humor to cope with things–I’m lucky that my husband shares my twisted sense of humor.

  10. Brooke on March 10, 2010 6:23 pm

    Maybe a horse bit it off.(from BtVS)

    This is srsly embarrassing to me, but…

    WHY CAN’T I PLACE THIS?

    Brooke

  11. Robin on March 10, 2010 7:36 pm

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Brooke. Can’t tell you which episode; I had to look it up, myself.

  12. Bexca on March 10, 2010 7:47 pm

    Both my parents work in medicine, which contributes to a somewhat-skewed sense of humor. We’ve recently found out that my mom’s breast cancer has metastasized to her bones; this is my immediate family’s 4th go-round with cancer, so we’re kind of used to it. She decided to write a blog, and asked me for title suggestions. I came up with “Bad to the Bone”, which she thought was hilarious. She’s been telling everyone about that, and says it’s really helpful for others to know it’s okay to laugh, too.

  13. Military Mom on March 10, 2010 10:28 pm

    I had to read this outloud to my husband but had to keep pausing because I was laughing so hard! What a great job those parents did in raising such a well adjusted daughter! I can only hope to do half as well!

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