EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 22, 2012

Windham father shares personal journey in book

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — Three years ago, Robert Dixon got the very call every parent dreads.

A traffic accident had seriously injured his son, Bobby, leaving him paralyzed and in a coma.

Their story, told in their new book, “Look Forward: A Father and Son’s Journey to Healing,” is on sale. Bobby, 34, came from his home in central Massachusetts recently to join his father for a book signing at The Chatterbox.

“Given where he is today, we don’t have anything to complain about,” Dixon, said. “He beat the expectations.”

Dixon, 60, was in China on business when he took the call about the accident.

Bobby, returning a video to Blockbuster near his Massachusetts home, was riding a motorcycle when another vehicle crossed into his lane. The injuries were catastrophic and included brain swelling, broken ribs, burst vertebrae and a compressed chest cavity with heart complications.

“From my apartment in Shanghai, I had to ask a priest to give him the last rites,” Dixon said.

The Catholic sacrament wasn’t the final word on Bobby Dixon, however.

“Nobody thought he was going to live. He beat all kinds of odds,” Dixon said.

Three things saved Bobby’s life, Dixon said: a helmet, the accident’s proximity to the UMass Medical Center in Worcester — just five minutes away — and his treatment by emergency medical technicians.

“The first responders did everything exactly as they needed to do to give him a chance to live,” he said.

Today, Bobby is a paraplegic but is doing well, his father said. There is full muscle control down to his hips and he is able to drive a modified vehicle.

“He is living reasonably independently,” Dixon said.

While the accident is central to the book, it isn’t about dwelling on the past or the bad. There’s much more to this “Look Forward” title on the pages inside.

“The book is not really about the accident,” Dixon said. “It is about our experiences, what we learned and what we want to pass on to other people.”

The book is not intended to be a story of woe. Instead, theirs, including Dixon’s wife Kristen, is a story of hope.

“You can face some of these awful experiences and, with a little luck, you can come out on the other side,” Dixon said.

The accident was transformational for Dixon’s own life.

“Sometimes, you don’t know what good will come from these things,” he said.

In the aftermath, Dixon quit his job. Then he founded The Military Civilian Career Coaching Connection, helping military service men and women transition to civilian careers.

Proceeds from the book are intended to help Bobby meet expenses, but also to serve the needs of emergency responders and families in similar situations.

“We want to use some of it to help other families,” Dixon said. “We’ve been there, we know how difficult it is.”

For more information about their book visit bobdixonbooks.com.