My cousin Patricia was born with spina bifida. This was at a time when the prognosis was that she would be so severely handicapped that a normal life was out of the question. Well, she does lead a normal life. She walks, she drives, she plays catch, and she’s a school teacher, wife and mother.

             Yes, medical advances and a seemingly endless series of operations contributed. Yes, the tremendous support and encouragement of a loving family contributed. But the most important contributing factor was, and is, Patricia’s courage. Although it may have faltered at times, it never failed, not even when she was seriously injured by a car that veered over the center line and crashed head on into the one in which she was a passenger.

              Patricia’s courage continues to be an inspiration to all of us who are lucky enough to know her.

              Here are some other things I’ve observed down through the years about courage.

             Without fear there’s no courage; to judge how courageous people are you need to know how frightened they are.

             Courage is the quality that guarantees all others.

             Rather than praying for an obstacle to be removed, pray for the courage to overcome it.

             It takes courage to be able to let go of the familiar.

             Courage, like muscles, is strengthened by use.

             Courage is much more than simply taking chances; what’s mistaken for bravery is often just bad judgement.

             Courage can’t be planned.