You Live and You Learn by J.C.

Screeching tires, crunching metal, cars colliding. The day my dad got rear ended in an intersection is the day that changed my life forever. There wasn’t considerable cosmetic damage to either him or his car, but as we were to find out in the weeks to follow there was much deeper damage than we had originally thought.

Shaking, struggling through motion sickness, vomiting, and waking up in the middle of the night with his arms standing straight up towards the ceiling, my dad struggled through life. Hours, days, weeks, a month went by before my dad agreed to see a doctor. Prognosis: A fractured neck. Fix: Immediate surgery.

The image of my dad laying motionless in the hospital bed, wearing his CU buffs gown, with gauze wrapped around his neck is burnt into my mind. As a small child, I didn’t really know how serious all of it was. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the concept, and didn’t quite understand what was happening. Life was really hard for me during this time, and I felt pretty alone as a kid. I still had my brothers, but nothing can compare to the time you spend with your dad. I remember a time before we lost our house, but after my dad had surgery when he would come shoot hoops with my brothers and me. We all would laugh and joke around playing “Pig” or “Horse” for a while until my dad felt too sick or tired to play anymore. His condition took a toll on all of us.  

Looking back on everything is hard but I also know it has made me the person I am today. Toughness and ingenuity are traits I was forced to learn after my family and I were foreclosed upon when my father’s surgery made us homeless. I was taught to conserve money by buying things I needed, rather than things I wanted. Food coming from the government in the form of food stamps taught my family and me how to get the best deals when shopping.  

In my life today, I use many of the things I learned when I was younger. High school football is an extremely demanding sport to play where mental and physical toughness is a necessity. I am able to use the mental toughness I acquired when I was younger to push through the hard practices and games. Furthermore, I learned patience and how to be ethical from all of these experiences. Both inside and outside of the classroom I have exhibited the patience I learned through tests, frustrating homework, projects, and finals at the end of the semester. Ethically, I believe I am a little more advanced than a lot of the kids in my high school. I know that once someone has said something and made a decision, no matter how badly you wish you could change their mind, you can’t. In addition, I had to grow up quickly and take care of not only myself, but also my little brother and occasionally my older brother.

Through everything, all the highs and what we thought was the lowest of lows, my family has stuck together. Being that as it is, I have learned to be ethical, tough, intuitive and patient `from all I have been through. All the things I have made it though in the past has made me who I am today, the man I am today.

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