Life: Next Station

José María Calvo was a 21-year-old bodybuilder who was hit by a car and left him a paraplegic. Today, he is 46 years old and dreams of being a world champion in handbike (adapted cycling). “I am not disabled. I have other capacities ”, he assures. 

Since he was 21 he has not walked again. He is 46 but it is impossible for drama to govern this conversation destined to make us better people or, at the very least, to discover a man like José María Calvo who that day, “crossing a zebra crossing” saw a Volkswagen Santana run over his life. He will not forget the car or the driver, who said he had not seen him. The reflection of the sun prevented it, but he did realize quickly that "he would not walk again." He did not lose consciousness at any time. I was 21 years old.

He worked in an earthmoving company in command of an excavator, "in the same company where my son now works, who was 3 years old at the time and 27 today" He had been married for two years, as his life then went in fast motion. “I got married at 18 years old. On January 1 I turned 18 and on the 27th of that same month I was getting married ”. Perhaps because his life was out of the ordinary very early on. "When I was 10 years old, I lost my mother in a traffic accident."At 14, "as soon as he finished eighth grade in EGB," he stopped studying "because he had to help out at home" with his father, who was a farmer. But those were the demands of a large family of eight siblings in which José María, the seventh of those eight siblings, will never stop remembering his mother, “like a super mom until that accident took her away. At that time there was not so much emphasis on wearing a seatbelt. The van door was not closed properly, he leaned against it and hit his head on the road when he fell, which was fatal. And he left". The woman was 36 years old.

He has discovered his sixth sense in sports

However, the memory today is unbeatable. "I was old enough to remember," explains José María, who works six days a week, morning and afternoon, at an ONCE post in Ejea de los Caballeros "selling coupons" which was never the illusion of his life. But even so, he claims to be "a happy man" who has discovered his sixth sense in sports. “ Until the accident, I was doing bodybuilding. I liked. The cult of the body caught my attention and in bodybuilding I discovered a discipline in sports and food ”.  The same discipline with which he entered the hospital as soon as he suffered the accident. “I saw what had happened to me and from the first moment I said that I did not want this, that had happened to me, to change the life of anyone in my family. I challenged myself to get out of the hospital as soon as possible, where they told me that they would not release me until I could take care of myself, whether it was to make my bed, to prepare food, to dress or to wash the dishes, for whatever. The challenge, in fact, was immense, but it had to be accepted. Life had come like this and I didn't see the point in protesting, saying this is not fair or 'I don't deserve this' ”. I was 21 years old.

Adversity did not dare to defeat him. “I will always remember that I entered the Miguel Servet hospital in Zaragoza on August 28 and at Christmas they had already discharged me, because I did not understand otherwise.He had to fight for it. I faced those deadlines. I had to believe in myself. I remember that when I first sat in the wheelchair I went to see other hospital patients who were in my condition. There were even younger than me, who had been there for years. From my ignorance or from my daring I wanted to make them see: 'Don't you realize that every day we spend in the hospital we are wasting time?' ”, Recalls José María, who then already owned the same answer today . "I used to tell them: 'the sooner we return home, the sooner we can lead a normal life." He was 21 years old and had the same willpower with which he answered the doctors that day when they told him about the possibility of going to the paraplegic hospital in Toledo to recover: “I will not go,


The compensation allowed him to buy and adapt his house, "in which the doors are wider than normal." You had to think about the wheelchair, because that chair is his legs since that zebra crossing changed everything. The driver, who was an older man, has already died, but José María is still here. "To you for coming," he just said to a client, who thanks him after paying the ONCE coupon. “At first, it was difficult for me to adapt to dealing with the public, but I have been there for eight years now. I have been able to find the psychologist that we all have within us ”. The reward is this conversation of a man, who does not like to be called “disabled. I prefer that they say that I have or that we have other capacities because that is the case.Everyone can do it. You have to look for other possibilities that are within you. If you try you can find them. Of course I would give anything to walk again. But I don't know if that day will come. I don't know if the investigations will advance to that extent. Meanwhile, I have to think about what I have and I like what I have: my house, my wife who is an angel, my life. Even my age still authorizes me to dream ”. He's 46.

“I admit it's an age, but the handbike world champion is 50 years old. I know I play against the clock but we all have the right to dream. There are people who have to wait longer to fulfill their dreams, ”he insists, today, non-negotiable without the sport that has allowed him to be fourth in Spain and catch a plane for the first time in his life, no less than to Johannheburg, to compete in the world championships in South Africa, where he was ranked eighth. “I came to the sport out of curiosity. Not to escape anything. I didn't need it, because I have a very hard head ”. This was his declaration of intent from the first minute. "I always remember that at the hospital they put me in a psychologist to see how my head was and, two days later, he himself told me: 'don't come back because you don't need him." I was 21 years old.

25 years later, he trains six days a week at noon. "I take advantage of lunchtime, rest at work." Today he is cycling, but he started in athletics, “where I did speed, 100, 200 and 400 meters. He had a lot of strength. I came from bodybuilding and I became a bronze medalist in the Spanish championship. But I realized that there were hardly any tests here and to compete I had to go abroad. And, although I still do races like the Behobia, it was not the most optimal plan. That is why I was encouraged with the bicycle (handbike) that not only has changed my life. My physique has also changed. I have gone from weighing 90 to 69 kilos ”. A new adventure,“In which my limit is yet to be discovered and that is exciting. I really appreciate this opportunity: cycling is very engaging. Every time I see that I can take more and that I can go faster. I had to lose my fear of the road. I knew how to do it, ”he insists today, without having to reproach life for anything. Not even at that zebra crossing he often passes through. But the memory never acted like a nightmare. Neither today. He is 46 years old and the most resounding proof is in his language, a weapon of mass destruction in the face of difficulty. An example for life.

Posted in Commentary on May 22 at 11:33 AM

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