Health Issues: A Profile in Attitude and Courage by Mark Michniak

The picture above is my Aunt Lil with my Uncle Bill. They are two of the most amazing people I have ever know in my life!

Uncle Bill is laying in a hospital bed because he is about to have his leg amputated from the knee down. Sadly, only a few months ago, he had his other leg amputated from the knee down. This picture is from just this past Friday August 9, so by the time you read this, his surgery has already occurred. I am happy to report, if you can report anything happy from such a major surgery, that Uncle Bill is doing ok and the surgery went well.

They are two amazing people because they have had so many things happen to them in their lives and still have a great attitude with an amazing faith in God! They have dealt with unemployment on several occasions, a daughter that has emotional issues, another daughter that is an addict, and oh did I mention, my Aunt Lil is about to have a hysterectomy in 8 days because she has cancer! Yes, while she is going through all of this pain and struggle of her husband having his other leg partially amputated, she now has to contend with her own major surgery and then now after having had major surgery, my Uncle Bill has to muster the strength and courage to be there for his wife.


One of things that I know has held their marriage together all of these years is their sense-of-humor. My Uncle Bill is one of the corniest people I have ever met! He always has a way of using puns or twisting words to say something really corny and you just can’t help but laugh because what he says is that funny. I remember growing-up and one of his favorite jokes was to say to someone “how do you feel?” and the person would answer “fine” and he would come back with “I feel with fingers”. No matter who he said it to, it never got old and the person always at least smiled and most of the time laughed. My Aunt Lil has always been very good at laughing at my Uncle Bill’s jokes and enjoys telling a funny story and laughing at anyone’s jokes. She has never minded Uncle Bill’s sense-of-humor and I can still in my head hear them laughing together at something.

To give you an even better perspective on the kind of people they are, when I was young, my cousins and I were going around the table all answering the question “what would you do with a million dollars?”. My Aunt and Uncle lived very simple, lower-middle class lives and took care of five children on that income. When they sold their home ten years ago, it was only worth about $55,000. So after my cousins and I answered the questions with the usual children answers of “I’d buy a big house”, “I’d get a fast car”, or ‘I’d travel around the world”, I posed the question to my Aunt Lil. Without even blinking, Aunt Lil looked at me and said “I would give it all to Mother Theresa.” I looked at her and said “Really? Mother Theresa? You wouldn’t even keep a little for yourself?” She said “Nope. I’d give it all to her charities. There are a lot of people worse off than we are.”

Such selfless people who have a very deep faith in God. They pray every day and not for themselves, but for others who they always say are in worse shape than they are in. They trust that God has helped them this far in their lives that they have no reason to believe that he will fail them now. They attend church regularly and have raised my cousins to be very faithful followers of God as well. They are true examples of living the faith.

So now I look at these two people I have to come to love and have so much respect for go through such trial and tribulations that I would never wish on my worst enemy. After his first leg was amputated, my Uncle Bill said “Well looks like I don’t have a leg to stand on!”, laughing about his pain rather than crying about it. When you live with such courage and faith, knowing how they have handled so much diversity in the past and have come out stronger, I can’t help but believe that they are going to get through this as well.

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