When I heard Clayton was giving his first public talk, I was happy. When I heard he’d done a great job, I was not surprised. Last year I would have been.
Last year, snowboarding, he hit a tree. Force of impact shattered his helmet.
Airlifted to Strong Hospital, doctors removed part of his skull to relieve brain swelling. Friends rallied around the family. His parents, siblings, and young wife made Strong their home for days and weeks. His head swelled up like a basketball. Would he live? Would he regain consciousness? Would he ever speak?
An early sign that all would be well came when Kelly, a pal who works at the Saab dealership, came to visit. “Clayton, Kelly’s here,” whispered his dad. “Remember, you test drove a Saab at his….”….Clayton filled in the rest…. spewing a long list of Saab specifications. The young man always knew fine cars. His dad is one of those Midas brothers, forever dabbling in business. Everything prospers.
The first clue I had that Clayton had such a background came when we took the boy, then 10, along with us camping. I was setting up the camper or taking it down or something, and the precocious kid starts chatting about high taxes and how tough it is to do business in New York. “His dad is self-employed,” I said to myself. It takes one to know one.
He recovered quickly and his unique personality reappeared. “You know, I’m a certified snowboard instructor,” he’d tell hospital personnel. “If you’d like lessons for your kids, I’m available.”
They fitted him with a temporary gadget while his permanent skull awaited reattaching, and he was able to get around. With a half-shaved, misshapen head, he visited Scott Miller Salon, where he does web design, and asked if he could get a half-price haircut. Clearly, he pointed out, he only had half a head. The unsuspecting receptionist did the only reasonable thing she could do…she panicked. “I…I’d be glad to check for you, sir,” she stammered, before Clayton let her in on the joke.
So today he is intact, restored and well. And giving his first public talk. Not all stories end so happily. But we are grateful for this one.