Landisa: My wife and I lost both our legs in a car accident in Knysna: How we found purpose again

Rodney and Maria Lakay
Rodney and Maria Lakay

Rodney and Maria Lakay, from Ravensmead in Cape Town, both their legs in a horrific accident in Knysna in 2014 when a yellow Lamborghini drove into them.

The driver of the supercar, who was participating in a rally in the coastal town, was also injured but released from the hospital on the same day.

Landisa spoke to Rodney about how the couple was able to rebuild and build a new life after the accident: 

How did you find purpose again after losing both your legs? 

To find purpose in whatever happens to us in life, is to accept things and move on. Someone will argue that it may be easy to say, but if it is a situation or circumstance that you can do nothing about, you do have a choice. 

We have realised, and very maturely accepted the fact that our legs will not grow back, ever. Life is all about choices, and we had to make the right choice for our community, our children, but most importantly, for ourselves. 

The first thing for us was to accept and to forgive unconditionally, to be able to have peace within ourselves. It would have not helped us to carry a grudge against Mr Driver, or to make ourselves sick over the matter.

Secondly, we had to find ways to make our "new life" count. It was not easy but it was important for us to be independent (as much as possible), and to live life to the fullest. That is why we had to put things in place to better our situation. 

We live in a double-storey house and had to put in a chairlift to carry us from one floor to the other. We have shower-trays and therefore could not use our showers anymore, but had to put in a bath-lift to enable us to wash every day.

What have you learnt about the purpose of life? 

Life carries on as normal, and nobody feels sorry for you. Life wants to be lived, and every morning when you open your eyes, you have a choice, and we have decided to live and to make the best of the situation. 

We also came to the understanding that we were given a second chance in life, and although it happened to us, it also happened for us. In the past five years, we have seen so many able-bodied people who are disabled by the issues of life. The purpose of life is much greater than to feel sorry for yourself. 

The fact that we still have each other makes life worthwhile. We can still do and plan things together. We absolutely thank God for a second chance at life, and the fact that we can see the dawn of each day.

What have been some of the most difficult things after losing your legs?  

We do travel quite extensively, and when you get to a place after hours of driving and find out it is not wheelchair friendly as advertised, it can be frustrating.

When you get to a public place, and the wheelchair parking is a normal parking, or an able-bodied person parked there.

When you get to a disabled bathroom and an able-bodied person is using the facility and still has an attitude.

My wife loves to do her own shopping and won’t allow people to make her feel that she does not belong there. She maintains that as long as her money is not classified as disabled, she will do what makes her happy.

Why does your body not determine your happiness? 

Every person with challenges, whether it is being diagnosed with cancer, or any other dreaded decease, will constantly have to apply what is important to them, and that is life. 

We had to come to the decision to either apply the rule, even without legs, or stay down, and the latter was not an option. The mind is a powerful thing, and if you can be happy in your mind, your whole body and outlook on the world will be happy and content. 

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