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Viewpoint: What does it mean to be courageous?

"Courage is not just a combat-ready soldier. Some days, courage is to live one more day without pain."
I absolutely love this inspirational quote: “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on; it’s going on when you don’t have the strength.”

There are so many ways we define courage. To some people it means jumping out of an airplane. To others, it is defending somebody who is being bullied. Then there is the courage to overcome unpredictable circumstances that change your life forever.

In my travels, I’ve met many brave people who inspired me with their strength, wisdom and ability to carry on despite a very difficult situation.

Courage is not just a combat-ready soldier. Some days, courage is to live one more day without pain.

When tragedy strikes and the whole family is affected by it, we show courage daily because our lives and the lives of those we love matter to us.

The strength and resilience we have, when really needed, is sometimes taken for granted because we think brave people are those who change world history as Martin Luther King Jr. did, or our own Canadian hero, the young Terry Fox, whose legacy is established and will live on forever.

It is not my intention to diminish the bravery of King or Fox, I just want to recognize the brave men and women in our community. The man who inspires me every time I see him is our own Powell River teacher, Jerry Reghelin.

Jerry was on top of his game, educated, well-travelled with a beautiful wife and three handsome boys. This close-knit family was an example of the life many of us dream about. Then, one day everything changed, for Jerry and his family. He had a stroke that left him paralyzed.

This tragedy and major changes and sacrifice for the whole family were long and difficult, especially for Jerry’s young sons, who probably didn’t fully understand why their energetic and full-of-life dad was in a coma and might not survive.

Despite major challenges this family faces, they are sticking together and living a united life of a good family. I could easily say: love conquers all. This courageous man and his dedicated family could teach all of us the importance of loving family, gratitude and life itself.  

Even though Jerry is probably in constant emotional and physical pain, he is very quick to tell you a hilarious joke or story that keeps you laughing hours after you leave his home. The one thing I sense since meeting Jerry is the overwhelming sadness he feels that he is not able to be the father and husband he was before the stroke. I couldn’t convince him that fathers are much more than playing sports or games with their sons.

The courage to continue living life to the best of his ability can and will positively affect his handsome trio. As for his lovely wife Natalie Kreter, “she is my rock,” says the funny man full of love for his lady.

If I can add anything else, it is for you to show up for your life and your family with all your imperfections, just as Jerry has.

Ranka Burzan is a Powell River resident.