Walking Grateful

March 1, 2014

After I write this post, I’m going to join my wife in a three-mile walk around the neighborhood.

This is not as simple an accomplishment as it sounds.

Back in May, 2006, two years before we were married (in fact, more than a year before I proposed), Ana was running out to do some errands and tripped on the steps, slamming one foot down against a concrete floor. The impact broke her knee. It was an awful compound fracture, shattered in sixteen places, and she couldn’t walk for well over a year. On June 10, 2007, the day I kneeled on a restaurant balcony floor facing a Hawaiian sunset and asked her to marry me, she was still on crutches.

That fall she had surgery to help clear out the remaining debris, so that poor knee could finally heal all the way. The surgery, happily, was successful.

And then the following summer, in the midst of a tornado — an extremely rare thing in New England where she was at the time — she tripped and fell. On that same concrete floor. And broke her knee.


Yes, the same knee.

For the next several months I watched her once again grit through physical therapy. Filled bags of ice for cold packs, carried her books and bags, helped her up and down the stairs. Served as her hands in the kitchen as we cooked. We went on quite a few trips during that time, and itineraries dotted with airport wheelchairs, crutches through squeezy airplane aisles, electric scooters at conventions, and bag upon bag of ice from rattling hotel ice dispensers. And that miraculous thing, the body’s capacity to reknit itself, once again worked its interior magic.

It’s now eight long years since that first compound fracture, but its influence in our lives is always with us. And I can tell you one thing about the two of us: Every morning when we wake up, we really — really — appreciate the simple joy of being able to get out of bed, stand up, and walk.

“I wept because I had no shoes,” goes the Indian proverb, “until I met a man who had no feet.”

What we learned: Noticing and genuinely appreciating simple things like knees, fingers, eyes, ears, breath, and sensation — those “little” things that are in fact much bigger on the inside than they are on the outside — can make mundane, everyday living into quite a joy.

Gratitude, not variety, is the spice of life.

Okay. Time to go walk.


  1. Bill Ellis

    Wow John…I knew that Ana had broken her knee – but had no idea it was the second time. Two things – 1. she clearly is an overachiever 🙂 and 2. I share your insights on the true spice of life and (not surprisingly) you’ve presented it beautifully. Thanks

    • jdmann

      Thanks ~ always great to hear from you, Bill!

  2. Bob Burg

    Using the written word, you’ve painted for us an amazing portrait of grit/determination, partnership, and gratitude. Thank you!

  3. Amy Wells

    There is a powerful gift behind the wound. Thank you for sharing y’all’s gratitude gift.



  1. Journal of John David Mann » Blog Archive » A Walk to Remember - [...] Contact Me « Walking Grateful [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free E-Book on iPad

Get “How to Write Good” download FREE

You may not be a published writer. But everyone tells stories. For a limited time, you can download “How to Write Good (Or At Least, Gooder)” for free. Right now this 130-page book is a JDM Readers Club exclusive. PLUS when you do you get an additional bonus free gift.

Find out more Logos