Pride, ladders, and wheelchairs

My oldest daughter was coming home from serving 18 months as missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Omaha, Nebraska mission a couple weeks ago. We had been counting this day down for a very long time. As an LDS missionary, you only get to write/email home once a week on your preparation day, and you only get to call / Skype home on Christmas and Mother’s Day.  So yes, we were very excited to go pick her up at the airport.

My wife had a great idea, (I’m not being sarcastic, it was a great idea,) to put up yellow ribbons for her return. You know, like the song, “Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree”. So I grabbed a ladder and up I went. I don’t like heights.  Maybe it’s not heights so much, but depths. Yes. I’m not afraid to look up at heights, I just don’t really like being up there, looking down.  So against my nature, I climb up the ladder, ribbon in one hand, and scissors in another to cut pieces off and tie beautiful yellow ribbons around the branches of this (not oak) tree in our front yard. Before I even got one ribbon tied, the ladder started wobbling and I came straight down, landing on my right heel, rolling my ankle, and then falling hard on the driveway where my head hit the cement with quite an impact. I was seeing stars. I sat up, and quickly put the ladder upright, lest any good Samaritan see the ladder down and stop to help. I tried to stand up, falling back down because of the incredible pain in my foot and heel.  So there I was. My pride kept me from wanting anyone to help. I crawled into the garage, found a fold up camping chair, and was able to get into it and assess the situation. It didn’t look good. This was what we had all been looking forward to for months, and right before we were to go to the airport with “welcome home” signs, I fall and am injured and probably should be on my way to the doctor. I was not about to miss this important event for our family, but what timing! Not that there is a convenient time to fall off a ladder and no longer be able to walk, but this wasn’t the best timing.  Ironically, we are in the middle of preparing to move to Port Angeles, Washington, and we recently took a pair of crutches that I had from when I had a hip replacement a few years ago, and put them into storage in Washington along with other things that “we wouldn’t need” for awhile.

So my wife and 15 year-old daughter Emma tie the ribbons in areas that do not require climbing 6-feet high on a wobbly ladder, and I carefully get into the back of the minivan with my leg propped up and we head off to the Salt Lake International Airport, now running behind schedule. Luckily for us, our returning missionary’s flight was delayed an hour, so we were OK. Nobody had eaten breakfast, so my wife Jen pulled through a McDonald’s drive-through and we got some breakfast sandwiches.

I’m in the third row seat with my 8-year old daughter Camille, and she says, “I have a stomach ache,” and then starts throwing up. I instinctively put the McDonald’s bag in front of her, and there goes my uneaten sandwich… which was at the bottom of the bag…  As I help to clean her up, I am gagging and trying to keep from throwing up myself. (I have a very weak stomach when it comes to this kind of thing.)

When we finally get to the airport, and my foot is on fire. I cannot put any weight on it at all. My wife leaves me in the van and she goes to find a bathroom to clean up Camille and to find a wheelchair for me. After quite some time searching for one, she comes back.  Now I am being wheeled into the airport being pushed by my wife and kids and I start thinking about what others are thinking of me. Like, “He looks fine. Why can’t he just get up and walk?”  Maybe they thought that, maybe not. But I was sure people were looking at me wondering why I’m in a wheelchair. (Pride again, right?)

We finally arrived at the escalators where she and a number of other missionaries would be coming down.  I stood up, because 1. I didn’t want her to see me after 18 months in a wheelchair and think I am dying, and 2. I was really self-conscious of other people looking at me. Wow. What is the deal with that?

Julienne came down the escalators, we cheered, gave hugs, recorded video, live video chatted with our daughter Maggie who was in the Ukraine teaching English, and then I needed to sit back down.  We then explained my little incident with the ladder to our newly returned missionary.

After we took a few more pictures, we got her luggage and made it back to the car, and I felt like I wanted my foot amputated. Not really of course, but the thought did cross my mind because of the intense pain. The rest of the day I tried to stay off it the best I could, but we had a lot of people coming over that evening to see Julienne, and I didn’t want to take time to go to a doctor. I did schedule to see an Orthopedic foot & ankle doctor the next morning.  My brother Nick brought me some crutches later than evening and I was finally mobile again. But the timing was still bad. I kept thinking that we had so much work to do on the house, and so much to pack and prepare to list our house for sale. I was frustrated, but I was mobile again.

Jason_Bringhurst

A few nights later I ended up going to the store with my two daughters, Julienne and Emma. Walking a lot with the crutches still would hurt my foot, because even though you have crutches, you are still putting some weight on it. So I decided I better get one of those little motorized carts at the store. But my pride starts to kick in, so I put the crutches inside the cart where everyone can see that I clearly need the cart, because of my crutches! I didn’t want to just look lazy. I’m literally using crutches, as a crutch for my pride. What is the deal with that? By the way, those motorized carts are pretty cool and I’m glad stores have them.

After a few times using them at various stores, I was getting more used to people seeing me in them.  I even went to the Home Depot with my wife, and made sure to avoid the ladder isle. Part of me wanted to warn others about the dangers, but I decided not to. However, I still brought my crutches and kept them in plain site, almost like Mr. Bean would do, pointing to them as each person looked at me. Which reminds me, while I’m on a tangent, of the great pun I would tell everyone who asked why I was on the ladder?  “Because I’m a ladder-day saint.” haha.  Wheh! Aren’t yo glad you read this post? You are getting a special treat reading this post today boy-howdy! OK, back to the story.

Well what’s the point of sharing this? Other than you can now see I’m a bit clumsy and should never be on a ladder, (or hold sharp objects, etc.) I guess it’s this pride thing. Why was I so worried about someone seeing the ladder laying down? Why did I want to take care of myself rather than have a neighbor stop by and offer a hand? I guess I need to be more humble and be more willing to let others serve me. We all need some help sometimes. We sometimes need to let someone else receive blessings by allowing them to serve us. It’s hard but we need to get over the pride and get over the embarrassment, and open up to being served by others. Most of the time we can be the one offering service to others, but when it’s our time, and we are in need, let others receive blessings by serving you. That is my lesson to myself. Jesus Christ taught to love one another and and we read in the Book of Mormon that we are to bear each others burdens. We need to allow others to have those service opportunities.

As I have loved you,
Love one another.
This new commandment:
Love one another.
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples,
If ye have love
One to another.

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