Tim GilmerThis month’s cover story is about the out-of-the-box practice of commemorating the onset of paralysis — 10 stories of readers who celebrate the day that changed their lives forever. It has helped me appreciate, once again, the power that our individual stories hold.

But soon after I finished writing the stories, I realized my own date, July 11, was upon me, and I had no plan for celebrating the 52nd anniversary of my plane crash.

In my early post-injury days, I would party, even if alone, a kind of private rebirth day, feeling fortunate to be alive. Later I would invite friends, who were always happy to have an excuse to celebrate anything. In time, the celebrations became a symbolic ritual involving launching and crashing various flying objects — paper airplanes; rubber-band propelled models; larger, more aerodynamic hand-thrown replicas.

This year, due to a time crunch, it would have to be paper airplanes again. At the last moment I invited my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons to join my wife and me on the deck for guacamole and chips, margaritas, and barbecued burgers. But first I had some deck repairs to do.

My faithful worker-friend, José — who comes each growing season from Mexico to our farm in Oregon to live and help — 28 years and counting — assisted me with the deck repair. When we were half done, I expla