It’s a Wonderful Life…Really.

Today is June 1st. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is Christmas. I’m a bit of a Christmas nut and one of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” If you’re not familiar with this movie…shame on you. Don’t wait until December. It’s too good – go now. NOW, and watch it.

If you have seen it, then you know it’s a story about a man who’s given the gift of seeing how the world would have been different without him. Not many of us have this chance, but it’s interesting to think about.

Some of us spend our spare time wishing something had been different. Well…what if it had been?

When I was little, I used to wish I could walk. I wished it were different. I wanted things to be easier. I wanted to be like everyone else.

(Simulate tinkling bell sound and cue wind machine)

Clarence says, “Wish granted!” (For those of you who – I am still horrified to imagine – have not seen the movie, Clarence is the angel who grants Jimmy Stewart his wish.)

So, what would it have looked like?

First, I would not have had the chance to be an MDA Texas and Florida State Goodwill Ambassador. I would not have gotten to take promotional photos with the prettiest white bunny-rabbit you’ve ever seen in a gigantic field of blue-bonnets, fed those blue-bonnets to the bunny-rabbit (an illegal activity) on film that was later presented to the governor of Texas. I would not have learned to have a sense of humor. I would not have given speeches at the age of five. I would not have learned to be fearless.

I would not have met other families affected by neuromuscular illness. I would not have seen the way they looked at each other, been inspired by their stories, their love and their commitment to caring for one another.

I would not have had leg, hip and spinal surgeries. I would not have endured painful hospitalizations and recoveries. I would not have become a fighter.

I would have been able to drive when I was 16, like my friends. I would have left school campus with them and gone to lunch and parties on Saturday nights. I would not have learned to be comfortable with and to have confidence in being with myself. I also would not have learned to appreciate the art of…the beauty of and the entertainment value of…the Lifetime movie.

My family would have stood in long lines at Disney World…AND Epcot.

I would not have learned a patience greater than any other as daily it takes 10 times longer to do just about everything than everyone else…dressing…getting out of bed…using the ladies room. Trust me – I’ve done the math…TEN times longer.

I might not have stood out so Donnie Wahlberg would remember me the second time I met him. Sorry, Jenny McCarthy – he loved me first!

I would not have seen the generous spirit of others daily as they open doors for me, pick things up off the floor for me, tell me graciously at work that, “of course they have time to go get me a cup of coffee” when I know they are swamped.

In retrospect…it really has been a pretty wonderful life. I’ve learned things I treasure. I’ve had opportunities I value and am so proud of. I’ve met people I will never forget. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Mindy Henderson

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