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Book Review: I Am Potential by Patrick Henry Hughes

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I’ve heard it said that “Heroes are made, not born.” WRONG!

On March 10, 1988, a hero was born into the United States to the Hughes family. He was the first baby of Patrick Hughes, and his wife, Patricia.

Immediately after delivery, like all parents, they were proud of their first son. Then doctors brought news of baby Patrick’s startling condition. Their son was afflicted with many disabling conditions: blindness, incomplete hip joints, and shoulder joints that would not allow his arms to swing outward more than a few inches. In addition, Patrick’s vertebral column could not support his upward body.

I Am Potential is more than just the story of baby Patrick — wheelchair bound — mastering heights most of us have never reached or even dreamed of reaching. It is also the story of two other people, Patrick’s Mom and Dad, who infused in their baby two critical attributes which made him what he is today.

1) Although his abnormalities were extremely rare, Patrick would never experience lack of love. If a loving God had seen fit to create him as is, then Mom and Dad would accept him as is and extend to him the same love they’d give to any other child.

2) In addition, from the time Patrick went home for the very first time, his parents had already made a monumental and irreversible decision. They would treat their newborn as if his condition was normal — for him. Be gone pity. Good-by doubt. Farewell to any sense of limitation. Patrick would be all he wanted to be.

Patrick Senior learned quickly how to calm his wailing young son, especially when mother was absent — play the piano for him. It worked so well that at nine months, Patrick Henry began imitating the sounds his dad made on their piano keyboard.

At first, he learned to match the pitch of sounds; gradually, he learned to imitate melodies and harmonies so that by age two, Father and Son started playing melodies together. As years passed, Patrick’s musical ability rapidly increased. In 2001, while vacationing in Tennessee, he played Beethoven’s moving Moonlight Sonata in the foyer of a church. All eyes and ears turned in his direction.

It took some time for Patrick to learn Braille, but master it he did. Not only was he successful in grade school, but he graduated high school as well. Patrick then moved on to become a college student at The University of Louisville. By this time, he had learned to play the trumpet. As incredible as it appears when seen in video footage, with his father’s precise wheelchair steering ability, the twosome became a single member of the university’s marching band.

This book is a must read for people with handicapping conditions from birth or from fate. Patrick’s courage and the support given by mother, father, and brothers as he grew older, cannot help but inspire even the most depressed individual to accept a disabling condition and move forward.

 

I Am Potential is fascinating to read because the narrative switches back and forth between Patrick and his father. In no way can this be interpreted as lack of empathy or support from Patrick’s mother or younger brothers. What is evident is this: the glue that kept this family together came from an openly shared love and trust all felt toward one another including their God.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to the general public who often see people with a handicap as a handicapped person. Patrick has proven the two terms are not equal or even logical. In his life, there is no such thing as handicap or failure. Why? It was never permitted in his thinking.

Does he miss his sight? He would be the first to say, actually, I don’t know because I don’t know what seeing means. Once, when asked how he’d feel if God suddenly gave him the ability to walk, Patrick replied, “I’d say yes … but nothing is accomplished by dwelling on the fact you can’t walk. So you have to shrink its importance in your mind … and that’s what I’ve done.”

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About Regis Schilken

  • patrick

    Nice. Thank you.