One of my favorite stories which bears repeating has to do with a man who lived in the small community where I grew up by the name of Roy Wall. Considered to be somewhat of a character because of his opinionated views, crusty wit, and sometimes salty language, he was also a creative inventor, successful farmer, and community leader. Roy had another distinctive feature in that he was an amputee, having lost an arm in an accident when he was a small child, something he chose to use as a source of strength and determination in his life rather than a disability.
One day, so the story goes, while Roy was struggling to harness a cantankerous team of mules a young man came by the farm to call on him. Observing the situation the young man tried to help out with the mules, but was brusquely dismissed in a sea of unrepeatable language. The young man, a newly hired school teacher in the tiny country school where Roy served as school board president, was obviously unfamiliar with Roy’s volatile disposition. Later, though, once the mules settled down and were duly hitched to the wagon Roy apologized to the young man explaining to him that even though his intentions were good he in fact interfered with his ability to deal with the mules. “Young man,” he said, “I may only have one arm, but I can do almost anything with one arm that most men can do with two. Of course, I can’t play a fiddle – but then #@!&*#$ neither can you!”
As you might imagine there are hundreds of stories about Roy Wall. He designed and created an eating utensil, for example, that was sort of a knife and fork combined allowing him to cut his meat and eat it with one hand. That instrument I am told is his grandchildren’s most coveted family heirloom. Another thing he did was teach young kids how to tie their shoes with one hand. How many of us can do that?
Roy Wall may have been an amputee, but he was hardly disabled. In fact, he could do almost anything with one hand that most men can do with two. As I lay in the hospital last week after my recent mishap I thought a lot about Roy. I figure if he can do it, why should I allow my own health issues to limit me in any way. Of course, I can’t play a fiddle either – but then neither can most of you.