Without warning, and with no time to take cover, a German shell exploded, causing Tommy’s world to go black. When he awoke in the field hospital, he could only see shadows, which faded until his vision was gone completely.
When Tommy returned from the war, his determination and positive attitude amazed everyone. Often, others were more concerned about his disability than he was. He desired to major in Dairy Management at the state agricultural school, but those in charge discouraged him, feeling his blindness was too much to overcome.
Undaunted, he asked that they give him a chance. Reluctantly they agreed to a one-semester trial, and he ended up graduating with straight A’s.
With a degree in Dairy Management, he started a poultry farm. He built it into a 15,000 hen operation. By the time he retired from that, people were already astounded at his accomplishments. But he wasn’t through yet. He went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling.
It was at this point, when others felt he had already lived a full and highly productive life, that he touched the lives of so many people. He worked for a time at a juvenile delinquency center, helping young people to get their lives back on track. It was hard for them to claim that life had dealt them a hand that was impossible to overcome, when a man stood before them who had faced down some of life’s greatest challenges.
After some time there, he secured a job as a high school counselor. There he taught young people the ideals he lived and believed. He taught them that no matter what handicaps a person has, he still has something to offer. He taught them that life is worth living, and that a challenge is simply something to overcome. But most importantly, he taught them that nothing is impossible.
As Tommy retired from counseling, there were many who wanted to know what had been his motivation in life. He shared a story few knew.
That day, in the field hospital, when the doctor told him he would never see again, he quickly fell into the world of self pity that engulfed so many of his fellow soldiers. Everyone there had lost a leg, an arm, their hearing, their vision, or similar things. The hospital was filled with despair and gloom as each soldier faced a life of continual challenge.
One day, in the midst of all of this, a soldier started singing. He sang songs of joy and thanksgiving, songs of happiness and praise, songs of the good things life had to offer. The man had a beautiful voice, and his cheerfulness lifted the spirits of almost everyone. But in his state of self misery, the happy singing ate at Tommy. Finally, after a few days of this, he could stand it no longer. He called over one of the nurses and demanded they tell the young man to stop.
The nurse laughed. “I’m not sure how I can do that. He has lost both arms, both legs, his eyesight, and his hearing. It is almost impossible to communicate with him. He says all he has left to offer is his voice to cheer others. And though he doesn’t have long left to live, he says he will sing out his days, determined to give what he can until he goes.”
Suddenly, Tommy’s heart saw things his eyes never could have shown him. Life was what a person made of it, no matter the circumstances. He lay there for a few days and enjoyed the singing that now lifted his spirits and strengthened his resolve. Then, one day, the singing ended. The young soldier had gone to his reward. But he had left a legacy that lived on in the hearts of many.
That was when Tommy decided, that as long as he lived, his handicap would never stop him from living his life so it would be a song to others.
And that’s just what he did.