Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: I am Potential

I'll admit it - I haven't had the best of weeks.  Daven has had the flu and we have been stuck in the house for what seems like forever.  But reading this book about the life of Patrick Henry Hughes, my grumpiness seems incredibly selfish.  The strength that he and his parents have is something that I could only hope that I could have should I ever need it.

Living in Kentuckiana, I have seen various coverage on Patrick Henry, who was a student at the University of Louisville.  I have seen him play My Old Kentucky Home with the band before the Kentucky Derby race.  I watched the episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where his family was chosen to receive a new home.  That episode ran back in 2007 though, and I had forgotten about the details of his "disability".

I put the word in parentheses because Patrick Henry makes it clear in his book that he does not like to think of himself as disabled.  The fact that he can think of his situation as just another set of circumstances instead of a handicap is amazing.  He was born without both of his eyes and has gone through many painful surgeries to have prosthetics fitted and placed.  Not only does this help with the shape of his face, but it also allows him to open his eyes and look "normal" to other people.

Because of his birth defects, Patrick Henry also cannot walk, or even bend his arms fully.  Aside from when he swims, he is confined to sitting in his wheelchair.  Before the Hughes family was gifted their handicap accessible home, it was extremely difficult for him to get anywhere in the house.  In order for him to get from the living room to his bedroom, he had to get out of his wheelchair, belly crawl up a ramp, dragging his chair behind him, and then get back up into his chair.  It makes you think twice about taking your mobility for granted.  

Music is a huge part of his life, and he sparked an interest as an infant.  There is a photo on his website of him as a baby, sitting on his father's lap at the piano.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is, "Music is the key to life.  The more I play, the richer my life becomes."  I would completely agree.

The book is also written by his father, and the reader has the chance to see things from two different perspectives.  I was furious to read that while Patrick Henry's mother stayed at home with three children, his dad was out of the house at night six out of the seven.  At least he had the courage to admit it, though.  He made up for his distance later on, when he attended classes with Patrick Henry, as well as marching band, before working his 3rd shift job.

We have definitely not seen the last of Patrick Henry Hughes.  He is a wise, caring individual and I hope to one day meet him and shake his hand.  "I believe God gave me blindness so that I might see the inner qualities within everyone I meet."  I really don't think that he has a single enemy.  I know reading this, I felt guilty for the pessimism in my life.  Sure, I may have had a bad day, but I can still see and walk and be completely independent.  While that is in no way the tone Hughes takes in the book, that's certainly how a guilty reader like me feels.

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