It’s a question that I’ve asked myself since a very young age, while my physical weakness continued its progression. I never cared much about the technicalities of my diagnosis because it was simply something I had to fight through. I thought if I kept enduring, things would eventually get better.
Grandpa (who lived to ninety-eight years old) was a well-respected schoolteacher who lived by manners. He was neither an extremely strict nor frightening person, only disciplined in how he conducted himself. I remember Grandma used to get so upset with him for stashing old medicine bottles and newspapers, but he was a survivor of the two World Wars, including the Japanese invasion in China. He was a grateful man who appreciated everything he had.
As a child, while returning home with bloody knees, I never cried once. Yet there were times when I laid alone in bed with immense leg cramps that reduced me to tears. While Mom rubbed them with Deep Heat, I cried wondering why I had to remain with so many struggles.
But Grandpa, with his appreciative outlook, always taught me to be polite, saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome” all the time. It was a must. Little did he know though, it was a lesson that would become another crucial foundation of my life…
And that phase where I cried? Let me say that it didn’t last for very long. In tears, I’ve questioned my capacity to endure, but rose from the darkness because through his gratitude, Grandpa taught me an understanding that the world owed me nothing. I decided to stop crying and live.
I refuse to let DMD get the best of me. It can’t, because through a simple “thank you”, I know that nothing in the world is free. My physical limitations don’t give me an excuse to give in and give up. They give me the motivation to work harder.
Because I’m grateful to life. I’m thankful to be one of the oldest living men with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Grandpa was an incredible teacher, and I’m privileged to have been one of his students.