My jaw healed, and life returned to my usual occurrences. Notice, I didn't say normal. I've always felt like an outcast.
While the other boys in my neighborhood were playing football in the backyard and signing up to play sports, I was hunting or fishing with my grandpa.
When we were exploring in the woods or fishing on the shoreline, life just felt right. It felt like I belonged. I guess you could say the outdoors was where I felt at ease.
My grandfather was the archetype of a man's man. He was strong, brave, kind, and caring. He was truly uncommon. You could send him into the woods with a pocketknife and a hammer and he could build you a log cabin.
Not to mention, he taught me everything about hunting and fishing. My grandpa was not only my hero. He was the exact man I wanted to be.
As summer arrived, I was looking forward to catching minnows and hitting our favorite fishing spot. Instead, I found myself standing next to his hospital bed wondering what happened. The news hit like a freight train – my grandpa had a stroke.
The man who represented the blueprint for who I wanted to become was no more. My best friend, role model, and confidante vanished. The man in the wheelchair although still kind, caring, and a witty conversationalist, was not my grandfather. He was never coming back.
Luckily, the stroke only affected his legs and occasionally the dexterity in his left hand. But it didn't matter. He was gone, and I felt robbed. I was robbed of fishing and hunting trips. I was robbed of the man I admired far more than anyone else.
The life I enjoyed so much and future I counted on was taken from me. My life's foundation had suddenly crumbled, and I had no idea what to do. Gone are the times in the outdoors when I could talk with my grandpa about anything.
I went from enjoying life and forgetting about feeling like an outcast to feeling lost again.
My grandpa became someone else. He became someone I did not understand. He became someone I resented yet he still was the same man.
Due to the conflict, I was having I began to withdraw from him. I ended up putting those negative emotions into a safe in the corner of my mind.
From that point forward, when I noticed anyone with a disability I felt as if my life was being ripped away from me and turned upside down all over again.