Everett is a man of many talents. He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, a bit of harmonica, and a little piano. He has built an Appalachian dulcimer that his brother says sounds beautiful.
He sings as well, having sung with the Abbotsford Men’s Chorus. Everett has a degree in history and taught science in high school. He’s written a novel. He has volunteered at the local MCC thrift shop. At one time, he was a hog farmer in Abbotsford, raising more than 300 sows making it one of the biggest hog farms in the province. He is a husband, father, grandfather, brother, and son. He is also a person who lives with an acquired brain injury.
The accident happened on the farm in September, 1995. The dump truck that Everett was operating, unbalanced and tipped into a ravine with him in it. The dramatic rescue efforts made the news but Everett doesn’t actually remember any of it. He was in a coma for three months and when he awoke, his efforts were concentrated on rebuilding his life. He had to relearn everything, including how to walk and talk. It was truly a life-altering injury.
Still, though his life is somewhat bookended by the accident, Everett’s life today is an abundant life, filled with humour, rich experiences, and hope.
“I’m still a loving, caring man,” he says, softly. His family agrees.
“Everett is incredibly encouraging to everyone he meets,” his older brother, Dirk says.
Caroline, Everett’s sister-in-law, marvels at the fact that he remembers everyone’s birthday – which is saying something, given that Everett is one of 10 siblings.
“He never misses a birthday and mails a card to each person,” she says.
Faith is central to Everett’s life. It sustains him and gives him hope. It has also given him a unique perspective on his life’s journey.
I think God’s purpose for me is to encourage people and help them see their own difficulties differently. – Everett, ABI Drop-In participant
One of the places where Everett offers this encouragement is at Communitas. For more than two decades, Everett has received support through Communitas’ Brain Injury Drop-In. It’s a safe, welcoming place where those living with an acquired brain injury can truly be themselves. Sheral Jones manages the Abbotsford Drop-In, which happens twice weekly. She is inspired by Everett.
“He is so resilient and has such a positive outlook on life, not letting his brain injury define him,” she says. “He has many talents and is a ray of sunshine, so kind to everyone he meets.”
Sheral says that one of the things she’s learned about people who live with an acquired brain injury is that while they can be strong and independent, they – like any of us – can have challenging days.
“Sometimes the people I serve really struggle, especially when they are stressed or tired,” she explains. “Having the Drop-in really helps people feel connected and realize that they’re not alone in their struggles.”
Everett agrees. He says that participating in the Drop-In has made a big difference in his life.
“I can relate to people’s trials and difficulties and they can relate to me,” he says. “People here are so friendly and helpful. I really appreciate that.”
Everett has written a song about his life’s experience. It is called, appropriately, Lifesong.
Try to live our life calm and peacefully in the noisy world we live
And remember the peace that there is in silence
Try to be on good terms with everyone be honest and true and listen too
Cause everyone has a story tell you and I would like to tell one too
Be yourself don’t try to be anyone else
Be all God calls you to be
Believe you are loved, Rejoice and be glad
Always believe you can
Avoid loud and aggressive arguments they can really bring you down
Be patient and kind, tempered with gentleness, enjoy your life and plans
Don’t compare yourself with your brother
Be content with what God’s given you