Attitude is Everything
Let me explain: she is twenty-three years old, and suddenly, for almost a year now, she finds herself in a wheelchair, in constant pain, and unable to support her own weight--or any weight whatsoever--on her feet and legs, thus unable to stand up, and of course, walk.
She has been on her own since age 15, when she left for Israel after one year of high school here on her own, without her family, through a program called Na'aleh. At the completion of three more years of high school in Israel and in two different schools, she was one of the few students on the program who stayed and stuck it through: most of the teenagers went back to the States and to their families. She went on, after graduating, to enlist in the Israeli army (the IDF, or Israel Defense Force), trying out for and succeeding in being accepted to a combat unit in army engineering.
After three years of service, including being a commander in her unit for a while and seeing actual combat during Operation Cast Lead, she was released from active duty, and began looking around for high-paying work. As her expertise at that point was combat and command, she decided to train to be a security guard, but not your typical guard-at-the-supermarket-entrance-type security guard, rather a checkpoint security guard, which required intense training, and paid highly (or so she thought at the time). She has described the training to me several times. It was grueling. In fact, out of a group of several men and maybe three women, most of the men and all of the women, except for she herself--dropped out or were kicked out. She told me how the men were taking bets to see how long she'd last. She outlasted most of them. And then one day, while on the job, she was walking across a lane and was hit in her leg by a car with a negligent driver, who was looking down while putting away his identification card into his wallet (he had just been checked by another guard), with his foot on the accelerator. In an instant her life was changed.
I truly believe that sometimes, when a door closes, another opens. I don't know why. I don't understand Divine Providence. I don't know what G-d was "thinking," to afflict a young, independent, intelligent and loving daughter with such a disease, RSD/CRPS, for which, to date, there is no cure. The disease is barely even understood, and is still being researched. She would, I'm sure, give anything to be able to stand and walk, without pain.
But something else, something positive, meanwhile, is happening. She is drawing people to her. Yes, initially it's because people see her and have rachmanut* for this young girl wheeling herself around in a wheelchair (they don't yet know that she is fiercely independent). For example, her next-door neighbor is always kind and goes out of his way to help her. Once, she was wheeling herself down the block and across the street on her way to a store--do you know how difficult it is to wheel your weight and the weight of a wheelchair down a street?--when a lady jogger just grabbed a hold of her wheelchair handles and said she'll take her wherever she needs to go, that it's a good workout (for the jogger) and it's no problem. My daughter hadn't even asked for help. Another time, the manager of HomeCenter, a store similar to Home Depot here (but on a much smaller scale) who now knows her by name (after we and she spent a fortune there buying for her new apartment, it's true), told her that she doesn't have to worry about getting her stuff delivered for a fee--the next day he delivered her purchases in person in his private vehicle, directly to her apartment, at no charge.
Cab drivers refuse to charge her. Her latest cab driver, a father in his fifties with three grown children (including a 24 year old daughter) and the owner of his cab company, insisted on being her regular driver, even though he usually doesn't drive the cabs himself--and has "adopted" her as his fourth child. He also works for a newspaper company, delivering papers in the middle of the night to TV stations, and offered to bring her a newspaper and current magazines every day (he's already started doing this. She showed me on Skype the Yedi'ot Achronot he brought her and threw over her fence). She told me that he became very concerned, when he called her to tell her he was going to bring over the newspaper and she didn't answer her phone. When she finally did, and apologized that she hadn't answered because she hadn't been feeling well, he asked her who takes care of her when she is ill? Who makes her soup and tea? --and told her to call him whenever she is not feeling well, so that he and his wife can make her soup and tea and bring it over.
It is not only an outpouring of rachmanut--it is that, to be sure; but there is also something else. Our daughter makes a personal connection with almost everyone she meets: with her acupuncturist, her PA in the hospital in which she was hospitalized this past summer and with whom she became close friends (she met her for coffee yesterday at the hospital, wheeling herself over from her apartment, about four blocks away), with store managers, cab drivers, the owner of her apartment, the real estate agent who got her the apartment and charged her only a quarter of his fee, her electrician who repaired the shorted-out wires in the two bedrooms and living room.
Pashut me'od*, her interest in people and positive attitude are bringing out the best in people: in Israel, people are like that. They connect, like family.
Some time back, our daughter told me she believes that people are inherently good. I so hope she is right.
*rachmanut: Hebrew: compassion, empathy
*pashut me'od: Hebrew: very simple