3: A Worthy Goal

3: A Worthy Goal

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

A Worthy Goal

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.

~John E. Southard

When I was a baby I was abandoned in an orphanage. Thankfully, I don’t remember, but the pictures I’ve seen tell a heart wrenching story. Most children left in Romanian orphanages are forgotten and it doesn’t take long for their muscles to deteriorate.

I was no exception. The first year of my life I wasn’t given any food. I sustained minimal existence on week chamomile tea and occasional diluted formula. There were no toys to stimulate my development, no one to talk to me, hold or love me. It was a cold, dark and bleak environment. The only good thing that happened to me during the first year of my life is that I was chosen to be one of the six lucky infants to be adopted into an American family in 1993.

When I look at the tiny passport photo my parents used to bring me into the United States, I wonder what they were thinking. How did my parents have the courage to spend borrowed money to bring such a sickly-looking child into their home? My skinny arms and legs were useless. I couldn’t even clap my hands!

My parents believed in me. Mom quit her job and worked relentlessly with scores of therapists. I considered myself special because of countless “play” sessions I had each day. I didn’t know it was work. I eagerly anticipated the myriad of therapists who entered my home every day to entertain me with their bags of tricks and treasures. I remember crying when the “play ladies” had to leave for the day, but Mom gladly “carried over” where they left off. Dad converted the basement into a giant play land where my sister and I could roller skate, swing or swim in a pool of Styrofoam peanuts. We had the coolest house on the block.

When I entered kindergarten, my therapy stopped. My parents continued to work with me especially during times of regression, which inevitably came after each surgery I had. Today there are no visible signs that I had such a rough start to my life. Yes, I had devoted parents who taught me the depths of my own courage and strength. But equally important were the therapists who worked with me each day. They were the unsung heroes.

In sifting through the childhood photographs that mark the progress of my growth and development, I’m in awe. I overcame every obstacle no matter how great it was or how many I had. But I didn’t do it alone. I accomplished enormous goals because of the dedicated team of therapists who had nerves of steal and patience of a saint.

Why was I selected from the thousands of orphans to leave Romania in 1993? I truly believe God chose me because I have very important work to do with my life. I had to learn first hand what it’s like to struggle through the quagmire of therapies, overcome those obstacles, and understand the importance of it all so that I can help others.

I want to be a “play lady” that some anxious child waits for, peering out the window of his or her home as I once did. I want to be a physical therapist so that I can devote the rest of my life to coaching people to work through the physical challenges they face. I want to be a cheerleader to them. And my greatest reward will be to watch them leave as a “whole” and “healed” person.

I want to be that unsung hero, and in order to get it, I must reach deep within and muster the courage to go to school each day. I need to get the highest possible grades in order to be accepted into the best college for physical therapy. Education is the key to my success. Without it, I will be an ordinary girl blending into the crowded halls of my high school. I am lucky. I know what I need to do. My life may have started out poorly, but I have found a way to ensure the rest of my days will be positive. Going to school may be boring to some, for me it’s the only way.

~Andrea C. Canale

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