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Difference Makers

Have you ever thought about what your role is in life? Well I have lately mainly because I thought I knew it and then ALS came along and I lost my identity. My dad always said find something you’re good at and something you would do for free then make it a career and you will never have a “job” the rest of your life. Funny how I am giving these same lessons to my oldest boys now.

When I was young I wanted to be a professional bowler. It was something I was good at even winning a state championship at thirteen. That faded because I became a drummer and wanted to be the next Neil Peart of Rush. That dream never faded by the way, it just never came true. Eventually I graduated from college and found my way into sales. That is where I found my niche in life. Not just any sales but the pharmaceutical field where perhaps what I did could help someone else.

I will never forget the first time I met a patient who told me the medicine I represented changed their life. I felt like a true difference maker. What I loved about my job were the daily interactions I had with people. I love people and those interpersonal relationships were what I cared and enjoyed the most about my job. And because of that I made people smile, laugh, open up, and helped a lot of sick people feel better. I also made a good living and provided for my family.

I hoped to be a difference maker for my wife Susan but each day I become more dependent on her. That was not part of the plan and I struggle with this daily. I strive and hope to be difference makers in my children’s eyes through the examples I try to set on being a husband, father, and friend to them all. My struggle is finding that identity in an ALS world and that is a work in progress.

One thing I do enjoy is working with the ALS chapter in Milwaukee. Their work and dedication to this cause is inspiring. People like them are the difference makers who will eventually help lead us to a cure for this horrible disease. People who work with kids are huge difference makers. Teachers, church youth group leaders, coaches, they all make impressions on our children. One of the finest women I know runs a summer camp where my kids go. I have never seen more smiling happy faces on kids than the times I spent helping out at the camp witnessing the memories she creates for them. She is a difference maker. There are many examples I can think of but the point is there are many out there and all of us can be a difference maker in the world we live in.

If you have ALS like me you realize that life as you know it is gone and we are now living in the “new normal.” The part of my life I got the greatest enjoyment from, daily personal interactions, are now pretty much gone. As I struggle to discover my new identity, I know that just as in the past, being a difference maker will be an integral
part of the “new normal.”

3 responses to “Difference Makers

  1. You’re a Difference Maker now in more ways than you realize!! One is through this blog!! Fabulous post.

  2. Tara ⋅

    You may not know this but you have made quite a difference in my life, Jimmy. Every morning I wake up, and when I hear the little stirs from my daughter’s room and know she woke up safe and sound too, I thank God for another healthy day here. Reading your words and seeing your positive attitude despite the cards you have been dealt has taught me so much about the value of life and the gift that each day truly is. You and your motto of “Hakuna Matata” are a complete Difference Maker ~ I no longer take anything for granted. Keep the posts coming ~ they are truly inspiring.

  3. ljpw93 ⋅

    You are a difference maker!!!! Don’t ever think otherwise………. You have made a difference in the lives of everyone you ever encountered – and especially your family – all of us!!!! I will never stop believing for you and never give up the positive thoughts and prayers for you…..

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