Now, He Has Only One Leg

One decision can kill you.

Please forgive me, but, because this is a true story, and all parties are still alive, I will use pronouns rather than changing the names.

It seems to have been just one decision that landed him in the place of becoming an amputee.

He was handsome, articulate, academically astute, and a fresh college student. It was near the beginning of his college matriculation that he made the decision. During one of his visits home from college, he, perhaps, partied with the wrong crowd. I’m not sure, but what I do know is that sex occurred, and the young lady got pregnant. After the discovery of the pregnancy, he was encouraged to marry the girl, which was typical in those days. This was quite traumatic for this young man who was expected to graduate college and pursue a worthwhile profession. College graduation never happened. He and the young lady did marry. She had the baby, but there were lingering questions that may never be answered. The young man and his wife remained married, and more children were born to the union.

This young man, who had a promising life ahead of him, came from a family with a devote church history but also one with a history of alcoholism. His father and some of his uncles and other relatives were functioning alcoholics.   I don’t know when or how this man started the downward spiral of alcoholism, but it happened. Was it to ease the trauma of his past and present life? I don’t know. What I do know is that for more than twenty years he has been dealing with stints of arrests and jail time. However, for over the last five or so years, he has been either in the hospital or at home because of his declining health.

One of my sisters called me recently and asked if I had been in touch with him because one of our brothers had alerted her of this man’s condition. “He’s so pitiful,” she said. “You should call him.”

“It breaks my heart. I can’t.”

“I know, but you need to call him, Sharon. Do you have his number?”

I sat silently for a few moments. “Yes. I have his number. I’ll call him.”

I don’t know when I’ll make the call. It’s too heartbreaking for me. When I saw him in 2012, it was at one of our family reunions. He was inebriated, disheveled, and missing teeth.  Seeing him in that state compared to what how I remember him as a younger healthier man brought me to tears.

The next time I saw him was when my husband and I visited him in the hospital, on August 21, 2014, following the amputation of his leg, brought on by diabetes and the excessive use of alcohol. As he lay in that bed, he was trying to remain upbeat, as was his usual nature, but the sadness and strain of life was obviously weighing heavily on his face. I can’t help to think that he was also reminded of his deceased father who was a functioning alcoholic and an amputee as well. I managed to smile during the visit, but it was truly sad.

During one of our vacations to visit family, the young man and I had a conversation. He said to me, “Sharon, anyone who has never experienced alcoholism does not understand.” I had to agree because, although I am in his family line, only by the grace of God, I have never even tasted alcohol. I saw what it did to some of my relatives. It seems that somewhere in our bloodline there is a propensity to addiction, so I know that it is best for me to steer clear of the spirits of drugs and alcohol or anything else that traps the mind, the spirit, and the soul.

Now, this young man, who is in his mid-sixties, has become even more debilitated with worsening health problems. I can’t get him off my mind, but I must because just the thought of him and his state is depressing, weighing heavily on my heart.

I need to muster up the strength to call him. I have to figure out what to say. What do you say to someone in his state? I need to make the call.

Who knows?  Maybe my “One Decision” might add some days of life to his life.


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