This is my niece, AnneMarie. She likes to wear stylish clothes with just the right jewelry accessories, keep her manicure and pedicure up to date in the latest colors and have a coordinating backpack and purse on her wheelchair. She enjoys music, word games on the internet, texting, emailing, playing cards and shopping. She works out with a personal trainer every week and uses her pool for exercise as well.
She shares a home with her Mom (my sister-
This is the bumper sticker on AnneMarie's van.
Ten years ago AnneMarie was in a car accident on an icy highway and sustained a closed head injury which nearly took her life, left her wheelchair bound with right-sided weakness and spasticity and with speech that's difficult to understand. Nonetheless, AnneMarie's goal is to walk. It's an ambitious goal that has taken all these years of torturous re-learning to sit up, balance on her own while sitting in the wheelchair, strengthen unused and reluctant muscles, stand, balance on her own while standing despite weakness, a brace on her right leg and muscles that forget how to carry out the messages from her brain. She is undaunted by all that and behind her lovely, feminine demeanor hides a steely resolve.
When physical therapists said she had gone as far as possible and dismissed her, she found personal trainers who would support her goal to walk, who would teach her the skills she needed and help strengthen her muscles to enable her to do what she declared in our gathering 2 years ago she would do, to walk. She called it into being and did whatever it has taken to get this far. When my Honey and I together with our daughter and her family visited AnneMarie and her Mom in February, my daughter filmed this (less than 2 minutes) with my camera. (AnneMarie's personal trainer and personal assistant are with her.)
Perhaps you can tell how proud I am of AnneMarie. I'm glad she's my niece, glad she's my daughter's cousin, glad she's my grands' auntie. She's my teacher in her fierce resolve to set goals and do all that is humanly possible to meet them, to believe in herself, however broken, and her ability to heal, to believe that she'll find others who can and will help her. No wonder our family wants to be around her. You're my hero, AnneMarie. I honor and celebrate you.
p.s. Don't forget to always leave the handicap parking spaces open and remind others to do so, too - AnneMarie needs them to have access to the world we take for granted.
p.p.s. Thanks to my Honey for his technical support in getting this video upright from its sideways orientation that defied my attempts to right it.