My Aunt

My daughter Abigail has been hard at work on a speech she’ll be giving tomorrow in her Grade 9 English class. After rehearsing it tonight in front of Lesley, Grandma Joan and I, she graciously agreed to share it will all of you…



Life is precious, and that is not something that I really understood, until I was forced to.

Comprehending that life is precious and every second that we are here is a gift, is not something that a teenager often stops to think about. In a world where we focus so much of our attention on the negative it is often hard to see the good and the beauty of our world. We don’t often think, “Isn’t it amazing that I can walk, I can see and I can hear, we take for granted the things that we have.”

I’m not saying that I walk around being constantly amazed by my life, and I’m not saying it’s easy to be optimistic all the time, but we can choose to focus on the good things in our lives, instead of constantly focusing on the bad. I get it, it’s hard being a teenager, heck, it even, for lack of a better word “sucks” sometimes. But I hope that after you hear the story I am about to tell you that you’ll live your life with a little more optimism.

The wind rushes past, the trees are a blur and before you know it you’re speeding down a hill. Biking. Your body is used to this kind of exercise, but you’re still out of breath. Then just as you turn the corner you feel yourself flying through the air. You crash to the ground, yet there is no pain, no feeling at all. This is what happened to my aunt on the day that changed her life forever.

She was found in a ditch off the side of the road in critical condition. Then my Aunt Tracy was airlifted to a hospital in Toronto from Collingwood. My Mom received a phone call about the accident around 5:00pm on September 4, 2011.

“Quadriplegia, paralysis of four limbs” This is the prognosis, that has been given to Tracy.

This means my aunt will never open another door, brush her own teeth, or even hug her children, without the help of someone else. She will never write a letter, go for a walk or shake someone’s hand. It is hard to imagine not being able to move, it is something I often think about, and it is not an easy topic. This condition is life altering. And after seven months we now know just how hard it really is.

Never again will our lives be the same.

Although this heavy weight is on my Aunt’s shoulders. She chooses not to dwell on this fact. She is pushing forward, she makes sure she is their to attend as many fundraisers she can and thank people for their support. I wish I could summon the same strength she has within. She inspires me to keep going, to look at life with passion and to find the beauty in every small moment.

Although, when I first heard the prognosis, I can remember being speechless like the wind had been knocked out of me.

What could I say? What could I do? I was sad but I was also angry and resentful, angry at the people around me, angry at god, angry at myself.

Why? I wanted to know why this had happened to my family! Why did this have to happen the week I was supposed to start high school?  What lesson was this supposed to teach me? I was also angry at myself for being selfish, I wanted and needed my parents but yet I knew my aunt needed them more

My Aunt is 41 years old. She has three boys, Christian 13, Malcolm 12 and Thomas 7.  The fact that my Aunt has been raising these three boys with no husband for the past six years astonishes me. My Aunt’s life was not easy, she experienced a very painful divorce from her husband and still she’s managed put her life back together and built a beautiful house in Bedford Park.

My Mom often comes home from the hospital and recounts the tales of the day. There are hard days and there are times my Aunt does not feel so strong, but what I think makes her so inspiring is that she wakes up the next day with a smile on her face and ready to fight. She doesn’t let her condition paralyze her mind or her soul. She has faith. She knows that this is major setback, a big bump in the road, perhaps a mountain, but she wants to make it!

Although we have had many struggles and trying times, it has brought us closer as a family, and taught me many things. The first of which is that we must be grateful for everything we have and seize every opportunity we can in life. It has also strengthened my faith, I believe that there is reason this has happened to us! The relationship between my mother and her sisters had strengthened and that is not to say that there isn’t sadness and anger but every day my family learns to over come it.

My Aunt is my hero. When I think of her situation, I am saddened, and I often find it hard to explain. Yet when I think of how she is dealing with it I want to be strong for her, to push on and be the best person I can be. If she can put a smile on her face, I can make it through High School. If she can have optimism and look forward to her life, then I can too.

I’ve learned a lot about who I am after this accident. Seven month’s later and our family is still learning new things and new skills to coup with this tragedy. I have come to realize that family is one of the most important things in your life and that good friends make all the difference. I have become more understanding, less judgmental and although I always knew it I’ve realized there is much more to life than my own small world.

This accident may have changed who I am but it will be for the better, and I know that with my Aunt’s spirit and my brave family we can get through this.

So the next time you get up in the morning and you want to complain about how early it is or the test you have the next day, think about how lucky you are to even be able to get out of bed.

Abby Lendvai

Please leave Abigail a comment and let her know what you thought of her speech.

  • Lu Korte

    Abby, what happened to Tracy was tragic, yet so many of our lives have been touched by the way Tracy and your family has dealt with this. I see by what you wrote that you have a gift, so I ask you to keep writing. My thoughts and my prayers go out to you and your family.

  • Ljthompson71

    Wow Abby, I was just on facebook and saw that your dad has turned 50. Wish him a Happy Birthday for me, tell him to post a picture of himself .
    Your speech is very touching and honest, it brought tears to my eyes. You so beautifully expressed your feelings and thoughts. What a gift to share with your class and also on this site . We will all benefit from your insights.

  • Jackie

    Wow Abby, that is an impressive speech. Straight from your heart. You’re family must be so proud of you!
    Thank you for inspiring me…

  • Pam

    What a beautiful and accomplished speech from such a young lady. I am so sorry that you had to learn this terrible lesson the way you did, but so impressed that you did in fact learn it. I have been following your aunt’s terrible story when a friend she knew from high school posted about it on facebook. Abigail I think you are a wonderful person for sharing your most private feelings and helping so many others by doing so. I believe that you are one of those special people who will change the world for the better.
    God bless you and your entire family.


  • Jo-ann Bolger

    Well done Abby…your insight and honesty is true to heart. Together you and your family will move this mountain!

    Jo-Ann Bolger

  • Grace

    Abby – you don’t know me but my name is Grace. I was forwarded your story by a friend of mine yesterday who knows someone who knows your aunt. Thank you for writing such an inspiring story. My daughter is a competitive gymnast and this week, has injured herself and will be wearing a neck brace to protect her spine for the next 6 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, she will recover and be fine however the feelings of anger and sadness and unfairness is very alive for her right now as she will not be able to compete in the events that she has trained for all year in gymnastics and dance. I plan to have her read your story to inspire her to be grateful and to give her the idea that her change in attitude will serve her well.

    Thanks again for writing your speech. I can tell you are a compassionate warrior yourself.

  • Gloria

    That is a beautiful story Abby. Your aunt is certainly an inspiration to any who read your story.
    Things happen in life and, as you and your family have learned, we can become bitter or we can rise above it. Congratulations to all of you. The love you all share with one another is what will always carry you through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001629514760 Susan Logan

    You are a strong, sensitive young woman, wise beyond your years. What you have come to learn about the important things in life have come at a terrible price but you have chosen to reach out and share…what a positive thing to do.

  • Michelle V

    Dear Abby! This is beautiful, thought provoking and very well written. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I will wake up tomorrow morning with a smile, I promise you that!

  • Lorna Beverley

    Inspiring! and all so true…..Life is now….let us all appreciate it!
    Abby, what you wrote is beautiful….thank you

  • Tracy Dort-Kyne

    Thank you Abby! That is beautifully written. Well done, young lady. Well done.
    Aunt Tracy

  • Donna Dunzl

    Dear Abigail,
    As I read your speech which was so eloquently written, I could not help but shed a tear. You wrote so compassionately about what life has been like for you and your family since Tracy’s tragedy. Thank you for being so open about your own personal strugges and fears but also your hopes and dreams for the future. How proud your family must be to witness your maturity in the face of a very dire situation! Thank you for reminding us all how precious the gift of life truly is. Abigail, we will never fully comprehend why bad things happen to good people but I am so certain that your Aunt Tracy with the support of family, friends and strangers, will accomplish great things in the near future. Keep your chin up. God bless you.

  • Mary Ann MacIntosh

    Dear Abby:
    I was very touched by your speech. As you may know, I work in a cancer centre that helps families cope with this disease. Strangely enough, some cancer patients have actually said that cancer, although difficult to deal with, has been a gift in their lives. To be honest, I’ve had difficulty processing how they could perceive a cancer diagnosis this way. Now that I read what you have learned from Tracy’s tragic accident, I am amazed by the power of faith and optimism that you, your family and Tracy are discovering. You are all so brave! When tragedy strikes, the best in people can often come out. They discover things about themselves, their families and life that they would not otherwise have discovered. It can be a very strange blessing. There is no doubt that this struggle will be long, hard, and discouraging but the power of your thoughts will continue to inspire your family and hopefully your aunt Tracy as well. Your parents and Tracy must be very proud of you – You’re an amazing young lady!
    Mary Ann

  • Linda

    Thank you for sharing this!
    Your words are so insightful and inspiring. I am both saddened and really happy for you that you have learned to cherish the life you have been given at such a young age! You are so wise beyond your years!! This will serve you well in years to come! Hang onto the positive and you WILL be amazed at how the future unfolds. Your Aunt and Parents must be so proud of you!
    Linda Newall-Visser

  • Jennfitzh

    All I can utter is , “Wow.” So much insight in some one so young is truly remarkable. Abby, your Aunt is lucky to have you & you are lucky to have her. God bless your entire family and may your Aunt find find a new, different life that is full of family, friends and support.


  • Dixie’s Mom

    Excellent Essay Abigail! What you see, you feel and it is shows here in your work. What you feel in your heart will help you in the long run, with your ‘love’ for writting anything from the wind, the tree’s, life, and love for your Aunt who is your hero. That is so lovely and special. Write what is in your heart and the words will flow from your pen…for the rest of your life – I hope that this is just the start writing career! Congratulations again!

  • Jcrossland

    Abby, that speech is beautiful!! You should be so proud of yourself. I am going to get James and Cate to read it. We all need to take a step back and realize how fortunate we really are. Good luck! Juliexo

  • Kimberley

    Dear Abby,
    Wow! Aunt Tracy must be so proud of you. I totally agree with you that teenage years are the toughest but you sure are handling them with grace.
    Your family’s strength is remarkable.
    Spreading the word this way I hope will change many many people.
    Good luck and please keep writing and inspiring all of us, especially your Aunt Tracy.

  • Di

    You are wiser beyond your 14 years! Thanks for sharing and posting! Your family must be very proud of you as is your aunt! She has a great support system – thats what counts! God Bless you and your family. Hoping for a healthy and strong days ahead for your aunt! :)

  • Phodgson

    That is an extremely well written speech with a message most people will live their lives but never truly get. You are such an intelligent, insightful and beautiful young woman and should be so proud of yourself. Although your were thrown onto this course of life with no choice you have managed to allow it to change you only in a positive way. I cannot wait to see what and how you are going to change this world as a woman.

    I too feel very proud to call your family my friends. They have stepped up to help your Aunt in every way and have persevered even on the days they thought they had nothing left to give. They are brave and dedicated and loyal. You are, and you live with, my heros.

    Bring tissue for your class tomorrow and a big hug to you.

    PH xo

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  • Anitaalmstedt

    Well done! I think of your aunt as well and often draw strength from her situation. She is a fighter and a hero. We wish her all the best.
    Anita Almstedt

  • Kathy McPherson

    Wow amazing! You brought tears to my eyes too. People will be moved and remember your words I have no doubt.

  • Hayley

    Thank you for sharing that. Your words are true, and from the heart. Your words and strehgth will touch your class mates and many others. This certainly makes one think – and appreciate all we have. All we take for granted.
    Tracy is lucky to have such a wonderful niece. Les and Robert…way to go…..Abby is something else.
    I wish I could hear you deliver this to your peers. Best of luck.

  • Tracy

    Such heart felt words Ab–I think you were giving the speech today–and I am sure it was not an easy delivery since it is so close to you emotionally. Your insight is well beyond your years–I know that your family is proud of you. I also know that a speech like this from a real person with a real life story will greatly influence your classmates and it will resonate with them for a long time. Well done! xo

  • Michael

    Great job Abby. Undoubtedly, your Aunt Tracy will be very proud of you.

  • Teresa Kerr

    I haven’t read it yet but have printed and forwarded to others who are not connected to this blog! I know I am going to love it because it is from your heart, your perspective and you have generously and courageously shared your personal feelings and amazing perspective! I have learned from meeting many people that those who have gone through pain and heartache, have the most to share with the most insight. I am so sorry for the heartache of you and your family are enduring but am so grateful to share in your families amazing strength and courage! Keep writing – PLEASE!
    Love to you all from so many you inspire!

  • http://twitter.com/TracyTodd1 Tracy Todd

    Dearest Abby

    Your speech brought tears to my eyes and put a huge lump in my throat. At one point I had to hold back a few sobs. I know exactly what your Aunt Tracy is going through because I have been going through exactly the same thing for the past 14 years. By now, I know and understand the ripple effect a spinal cord injury has on an entire family, friendship circles and even a community. It’s heartbreaking for all concerned.
    It takes great courage to tell it like it is, so openly and honestly. Thank you for being willing to share your deepest thoughts and emotions with the world. Your unconditional love and commitment for your family shine through. You are a brave, strong, beautiful and incredible young girl.

    Aunt Tracy and your entire family will live through this journey TOGETHER, one day at a time. And that’s all that’s important — and you said in your speech — FAMILY.

  • Kaarsbergen

    This is a fantastic speech. I am sure everyone is very proud of you.

  • Ulana

    Abby, after reading your speech, I know that you are one incredible person. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Shirlee

    Nicely said Abby.