… and yet another letter

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.

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