His car was literally wrapped around a tree. They saved his life, but he remained paralyzed from the waist down with restricted upper body movement. He was classified as quadriplegia. He was 23 years old. My mother was 22 years old.
That day, many quadriplegic people gave up. It wasn’t my dad’s story. He did not intend the accident to determine his life. He was ambitious. He had a goal. And since my mother was with him, there was nothing to prevent him from returning to work, getting a home, and adopting me. That’s funny. Some may think that having a quadriplegic father is not a blessing. But having parents who live with such determination was the greatest blessing I have ever experienced.
When I was a kid, I thought it was cool to have an electric wheelchair. I got on his lap and went through the neighborhood to buy ice cream. When I grew up, I rode my bike and he zoomed in with me. I didn’t realize that people with disabilities would be discriminated against until the waiter came to the table, looked at my mother and said, “What do you want to order?” And went to the restaurant.
My father didn’t speak up. He didn’t close his eyes. He said, “Well, I’ll have prime rib, medium rare, and horseradish on the side,” making it very clear that his disability has nothing to do with his mind.
It was my first perception that people might feel sorry for my father or somehow look down on him. But I never did. And my dad never showed any signs of self-pity. He believed that if you focused and decided, there was nothing you couldn’t do.
It wasn’t without obstacles, but he believed he intended to overcome them.
When I was in 6th grade, there was a speech contest. Everyone had to recite poetry and speeches. I decided to give a speech on “I Have a Dream”. But my dad said, “No, everyone is going to do that,” and suggested Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.”
Since then, that’s my belief. Just behind the desk is a framed copy. Whenever you deal with a stressful situation, look back and read it. Even if I go through the first line: If you can keep your head on all of you / if you lose them and blame you for it / if you can trust yourself when everyone is suspicious of you / but Take into account their doubts; I said, “OK. I can do this.” Not only because the words of the poem instill confidence, but also because my dad taught me that. He was my hero. In my opinion, he was 7 feet tall.
What Pfizer and other Covid-19 Fighter CEOs learned from their parents
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