A very special holiday is approaching and it reminds me of a story I recently read. There are certain similarities between mine and the one you are about to read. It’s about having dreams, facing unbelievable odds, and being inspired to achieve those same dreams.
In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with The Long Island. However, bridge building experts throughout the world thought this was an impossible feat and told him to forget the idea. It wasn’t practical and simply could not be done. Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else.
After much discussion and persuasion, he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge could in fact be built. Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway, a tragic accident on the site and took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and was left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to talk, walk or even move.
Since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built, everyone felt the project should be scrapped. In spite of his handicap, Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. His mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task.
As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees for just a moment. It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up.
All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife. He touched his wife’s arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish, but the project was under way again. For 13 years, he tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed.
Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their teamwork; to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world.
It also stands as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife, who, for 13 years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of never-say-die attitudes that overcame a terrible physical handicap and achieved an impossible goal.
Take this time to honor someone who has made a difference in your life. Someone who has helped you accomplish goals in your life; someone whose example has made you a better person for having known him. Honor that person this week.