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.”