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His eyes studied his sneaker foot, with scarring on his calf resembling vanilla ice cream oozing through a chocolate bar. Red shorts concealed the stump of his other leg as he crutch-walked toward his van parked in the handicapped zone of the YMCA; with each step, the swim bag around his neck rolled across his meaty chest. Contentment flooded his persona like sunset-sky, having accomplished yet another challenge, this day.

Seated in the all-weather armchair outside the entrance of the YMCA smiled a silver-haired windblown senior, her eyes alive with spirit as she waited for Call-a-Ride. Next to her edematous legs stood her collapsible stool. A blue dressing on her right forearm suggested the placement of a shunt, used for dialysis patients. No television-watcher, is she.

And during a rest break in the lobby, I watched a purposeful young woman glide through the opened doors of the entrance, her brunette curls bouncing upon narrow shoulders, wearing an ankle-length cotton dress that concealed her missing leg. Also well practiced in crutch-walking, she thought little of her limits—there was life to be lived, to the fullest, as noted by the tan briefcase slung across her back.

And pumping away on the NuStep machine in the gym was Lou, a great-grandfatherly type with sparse white hair meandering across his lined forehead. His rumpled T-shirt and shirts mirrored his relaxed speech. A smile for everyone, he continues teaching whoever is willing to learn. 

These encounters at the YMCA obliterated my earlier self-pity. We all have our limits, visible and invisible. I’m so grateful for mine.

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