Meet my most amazing friend

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By Nora Peacock,
Newberg freelance writer

*** Silver Prize Winner ($25) Inspiration writing contest. View winners all this week at Oregon Women’s Report.

Laughter and Lisa go hand-in-hand. For twenty-six years, this special friend has taught me about going for the zest in life, no matter the challenges I encounter. She carries within her a reservoir of humor, waiting for the next opportune moment to spring forth. No matter how hard her day, Lisa giggles with anticipation before telling me her latest joke. This special friend loves ribbing me about my last name Peacock. She often greets me in her distinctively shrill voice, “Hi, turkey!” reminding me my surname could be a lot worse.

Some of Lisa’s favorite pastimes include reading books, playing in a bell choir, attending church and going to camp retreats. She likes to shop ’til she drops with her paychecks from her job at a sheltered workshop. Jumping at the chance to eat out, she shoots the breeze with anybody who is game to listen. Lisa exemplifies Will Roger’s famous statement, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Remaining a stranger when in Lisa’s presence tests the limits of possibility.

Not much in life gets Lisa down. No longer able to hear volume or pitch, she loves singing praises to God in her beautiful monotone voice. At age 48, she unashamedly worships as she lifts her contracted arms, hands and fingers as high as her limited range of motion allows. Her radiant smile and contagious joy spring from a deep well of inner strength, despite a lifetime of progressive disabilities. Lisa gives clear testimony that her life represents a glass half-full…no, make that a glass overflowing. Her busy social life, however, gives her little time to ponder such esoteric issues. She’s having too much fun to worry about such deep stuff.

By the way, Lisa can’t see an actual glass. With a fingertip, she touches the liquid inside to determine how full the contents. An assistant must brush the back of Lisa’s hand, cueing her to ring her bell when the choir that she can no longer hear performs. She listens to sermons ‘Helen Keller style’ and reads her Bible in Braille.

When Lisa shops ’til she drops, she’s a woman on a mission in her wheelchair, trusting whoever pilots to steer her clear of obstacles and hazards. Back in my younger and stronger days, I pushed her wheelchair through stores as we bumped into full clothing racks along the way. Oh well…onward and forward! After all, more aisles awaited us! Lisa laughed. So did I.

When I went through two rounds of stage 4 lymphoma, a car accident, and multiple falls with lasting injuries, Lisa’s inner strength inspired me to face life with a hopeful heart. Should an aspiring philosopher pose the half-empty vs. half-full question to Lisa, with blind eyes closed she would first chuckle and hardly pause while considering her answer. Using spastic movements she would quickly respond loud and clear in Sign Language and unique voice:

“Of course the glass is half-full! Can’t you see that?”