The beauty of gratitude

We introduce a heartwarming and inspiring new book by South African writer and broadcaster Peter Wise.

You may have heard Peter Wise, aka “The Wiseman”, on the radio in southern Africa over the past 30-odd years or have come to know him personally.

Peter was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis, in which deposits of fibrous (as opposed to muscle) tissue build up in the joints, causing deformity and instability in the limbs. The condition posed a significant challenge for his parents, siblings, close friends and himself in terms of future care, encouragement, ability to fit in to “normal” society and education and employment structures, and, at times, his own self-acceptance and respect.

Here are extracts from his forthcoming book, entitled Gratitude. It is an inspirational, often humorous, insight into his path of positivity, perseverance, falling down and getting up again, love for people and causes, faith, fun and the fundamental priority of caring for everyone around him.

  • “Try and visualise the shock, disappointment and fear that gripped my loving parents when early on the morning of August 10, 1960 this bundle of boy emerged from my mother’s womb, bleating like all newborns do, but with legs and arms pointing in strange directions and the doctors whisking their second child away for close investigation and diagnosis. Back in those days there was no warning of foetus defects and little medical knowledge of the rare (1 in 20 000) virus picked up during pregnancy known as arthrogryposis.

Being a dedicated Christian, my mother, Stella (the Star), named me Peter (the Rock), knowing that I would have to be strong in mind and faith. My strong, sporty father, Errol, chose Robin for my middle name, after his best buddy. The pre-entry medical doctor at Grey Junior was not his favourite buddy. Upon his advice that I should really go to a ‘special’ school as I would not cope in the main stream, Errol calmly and sternly retorted that as his dad, brother and he had all attended the ‘Grey’, I would do the same for the next 12 years.”

  • “It’s quite amazing, if not ironic, how ‘Robin’ has been relevant in my life. The Robin is my favourite good luck bird; I had the joy of marrying a (maid) Marion (Robin Hood’s good lady) and we lived in Maid Marion Road in Robindale.”
  • “Despite the shape and angle of my left wrist, I became the ‘arly’ (marbles) king at junior school, winning bag-loads of goons, kingsizes and ironies off the bigger, disgruntled boys. When one demanded his bag back, claiming that I had an ‘unfair advantage’, my younger, red-headed brother planted him squarely on his posterior.”
  • “We all go through a major wilderness time during our life, and have to summon all of our grit, faith in God and gratitude for the support around us to again find our purpose and bring another Spring into every day. My youngest brother’s suicide; death of both parents within 10 days of each other; loss of my anchor 14-year business client and divorce, all in a three-year period, gave me further resolve to refocus my priorities and be grateful for my opportunities and bestowed blessings.”

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