by Dan Spoone
The theme for this issue of the Forum is gratitude. We have many things in our life to be grateful for each day. The love of a family member or friend. The thrill of being alive and hopefully in good health. The sense of community we enjoy with our ACB family and the relationships with our neighbors. It is this last point I would like to talk a little more about with you today.
Leslie and I have lived in our local neighborhood, Bradford Cove, for the past 21 years. It is a subdivision on the east side of Orlando about six miles west of the University of Central Florida (UCF), and our neighborhood has 300 homes with a community pool and a nice sidewalk for easy access to our local shopping center. We chose this location because of the walking access to the shopping center and its proximity to my work. Our neighbors are a mix of all ethnicities and ages. We love it.
So, why does this have anything to do with being grateful? Of course, the simple answer is that we are grateful for our neighborhood and our neighbors. But then a funny thing happened one day as we were on the way to our shopping center to enjoy a taco lunch at our favorite restaurant, Tijuana Flats.
Leslie and I were walking down the path when a neighbor came bounding out of her front door, saying, “Stop! Stop! We need to talk.” “Is everything OK?” Leslie asked. “Most certainly, my name is Teresa and I just want to say thank you.” “What for?” Leslie and I asked in unison.
Teresa went on to explain that her brother John had lost his sight a year earlier from complications from a drug overdose. She shared with us that John was a real mess. He was very depressed and felt like his life was over. He was feeling sorry for himself and she did not know what to do.
She finally took the approach of some tough sisterly love. She told John that there was a blind couple in her neighborhood that she watched walk to the store each day. They were always smiling, talking and enjoying their neighbors. They are enjoying life. Why can’t you? You need to get it together and get some help. Teresa told us that over the past year John had gone to the Lighthouse of Central Florida for rehabilitation and he is doing much better. He has a new set of friends, he is using his cane skills to travel independently, and he is doing his own shopping and talking about going back to work. Teresa gave us a big hug and thanked us for being the inspiration for her and her brother.
Wow! Leslie and I didn’t know what to say, but we were grateful we had played a small role in John’s rehabilitation journey.
We can all make a difference each day by going out into our communities and living our lives to the fullest. Always take the chance. Be an active member of your neighborhood, church and community center. The next Teresa or John may be just around the corner.