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Column: Living on life’s terms


Published in the South Jeff Journal, May 2015

By Heather Berry

So much of life is about making adjustments when things don’t turn out as planned. And, take it from Linda and David Zehr, life can change in a heartbeat. See the feature story on the front page about the accident which took the use of Linda’s legs.

The key to moving forward when something unexpected hits, in their eyes, is accepting things as they are, as opposed to how you’d like them to be.

I spent an afternoon with Linda, her sister Mary and her husband David last week. The three of them reflected on how life has changed in the past year. The consensus was that nothing is the same. There was also a consensus that life is precious and people are truly remarkable when it comes to helping one another when in need.

For David, he said he remains overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the community. The day a small army arrived to build the handicap accessible ramp for their front door, David was really moved. “I couldn’t believe it, they did it out of the kindness of their hearts.”

You’d think that losing the ability to walk would make people more irritable and more difficult. In the case of Linda Zehr and her family, however, quite the opposite has happened. According to Linda, no one in the family takes life or on another for granted any longer.

At one point, David joked about how Linda is easier-going than before the accident. She agreed. She said the smaller stuff doesn’t seem to matter like it used to. In their previous life, said David, Linda would get worked up about the time he spent golfing. Now, making an issue about golfing seems almost silly.

“I appreciate how he takes care of me and I want him to go out have some fun,” Linda said.

Linda said the accident made her much more grateful for the people in her life, especially knowing the extra effort required for her care.

Everyone in the family appears to play a role in making this new life successful by taking each new challenge with a strong dose of hope. When Linda’s handicap-accessible van began acting up, the Zehr’s daughter Ashley looked up options. She enrolled her mom in a contest to receive a new van.

Linda’s sister, Mary Denny, has been there every difficult step of the way. She was especially touched watching other patients who didn’t receive the amount of support and visitors Linda enjoyed. “In the rehab hospital, most of the residents and patients had no visitors. It was so sad because we have such a strong community here,” Mary said.

And, the community, according to Linda’s doctors, are partly responsible for Linda’s successful recovery. “My doctor told me how he knew I’d be OK because I had so much support.”

I learned so much from my afternoon with the Zehr family. I learned to never count on life going how you plan, accept and make adjustments when the inevitable happens. Don’t underestimate the support of friends and family. Be there for others, because there may come a day when you need help.

I want to thank the Zehrs for inviting me into their home and for their honesty.