I was paralyzed and trapped in a wheelchair in an accident, and my father refused to be burdened with me. But then he gets taught an important lesson.
I was 19 when I was run over by a car on my way to work. For me, it was the end of the world: a screech of tires, darkness, and pain. And when I woke up, I heard the voices say I’d never walk again.
I kept asking for my father, but he only showed up three days later, looking the worse for the wear and I knew he’d been on a bender while I’d lain there fighting for my life.
My mother died when I was 12, a victim of breast cancer. I remember her as a sweet, weary woman, always cringing from my father’s cruel words, working to keep food on the table while he drank his paycheck away.
As soon as I turned 14, he ordered me to find a part-time job to help with the bills, and when I was 16, I dropped out of school and started working full time to support myself — and him.
But when my father finally arrived at the hospital to visit me, there was neither compassion nor gratitude in his eyes. The doctor explained that although my spine was not severed there had been severe bruising and compression.
I might — by a long shot — recover my ability to walk, but most likely, I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. And that was when my father walked away. He said to the doctor, “She’s over 18, isn’t she? She’s an adult, right? So she’s not my responsibility anymore. You take her.”
I remember my doctor’s horrified expression and my father’s gaze sweeping over my limp legs. “Useless! Useless like your mother!”
Those were the last words I’d hear from him for the next six years. A little while later I was transferred to a recovery center where I was lucky enough to be assigned to a therapist named Carol Hanson.
Family is built on love, not a biological bond, or shared DNA.
She was an older, motherly woman who immediately took me under her wing. Carol was as loving as she was demanding, and she was very demanding. Over the next year, she pushed me towards a recovery I’d never dreamed possible.
The day I stood on my own two feet and took my first step, I cried like a baby, and so did Carol. It was only the beginning, and the next few months I worked even harder, but finally was pronounced healthy.
It was a bittersweet moment for me. I was healed from my injury and I was walking again, but I was terrified. I had nowhere to go, no family. I was all alone in the world.
Carol walked in and found me crying. She sat beside me on the bed and put her arms around me. “Jenny,” she said to me, “it’s all right to be scared. You’re starting your life again.”
“I have no one, and nowhere to go,” I whispered, remembering other patients leaving surrounded by loving family, “I’m alone.”
“No you’re not,” Carol said firmly, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. Would you like to move in with me? Just until you get your life together again…”
So I did, and it was lovely. Carol and I got on beautifully, and she gave me my own room, a pretty room, the prettiest I’d ever seen. “It was my daughter’s,” Carol explained with tears in her eyes. “I lost her like you lost your mother.”
I started googling for jobs the next day on Carol’s computer, but when I came down to breakfast there were some informative flyers on the table from the local high school announcing night classes for adults wanting to complete their secondary education.
“I think,” said Carol firmly, “that you need to go back to school so you can go back to college.”
My mouth dropped open. “College? I can’t afford college!” I gasped. “Carol, I don’t have a cent to my name and no way to support myself if I don’t get a job, and quickly.”
Carol shook her head: “No, Jenny, you can’t afford NOT to go to college. Listen, I will lend you the money, and when you graduate, you pay me back — just like a student loan with a bank.”
Anyway, she talked me into it, and I quickly completed the high school certification I needed and applied to the local college. I’ll admit Carol’s example inspired me to become a nurse, and four years later, I graduated summa cum laude.
I started working at a local hospital and ended up specializing in neo-natal care. One day, a TV crew came in to do a news story on a set of identical triplets and ended up interviewing me.
For a while, I was a bit of a celebrity, but the attention brought me an unwanted visitor. The doorbell rang and when I opened it, I was stunned to see my father standing there.
He looked terrible, like a bum, and he reeked of alcohol and sweat. “Jenny, my sweet baby girl!” he cried, reaching out his hands. “I’ve finally found you again.”
“Found me again?” I asked sharply, “You abandoned me in the hospital because I was useless, remember, like my mother?”
He squeezed out a few tears. “Oh my baby,” he sobbed. “Forgive me, I was frightened and in shock… You won’t turn your dad away now, would you? I haven’t been well…”
“You look fine to me,” I told him coldly, but my trained eye had already noted the yellow tinge to his skin and eyes. He had some kind of liver disorder, probably due to his drinking.
He shuffled forward. “I’m sick, Jenny, daddy really needs you…And…” he licked his lips thirstily. “And I’m broke, baby, no money for food…You’re not going to let your daddy go hungry, are you?”
“Like you left me to my fate? Helpless in a wheelchair? Guess what ‘DADDY,’ I am. Get out.” I slammed the door in his face and walked back into the lounge.
Carol looked up at me and smiled. “Who was that, Jenny?”
“Oh, just some man selling something!” I went to the sofa, sat down beside Carol, and hugged her fiercely. Carol hugged me back.
“Jenny,” she said, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. Would you allow me to adopt you? Become your mother? Because in my heart you already are my daughter.”
I started crying and I just couldn’t stop. I had been cursed with a terrible childhood, and now as an adult, I had been lucky enough to find a loving home and a parent who cherished me.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Family is built on love, not a biological bond, or shared DNA.
2. What you give is what you get, as Jenny’s father discovered.
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