Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's Words for March 17, 2010

I can still recall one time when my mother lamented that she used to enjoy going out and about to exhibitions and fairs or just shopping, but that she couldn’t anymore because her arthritis had become too severe, and she couldn’t walk very well or for very long. I don’t think I was much more than fifteen at the time. I told her that if she wanted to go to the exhibition (Canadian National Exhibition in late August) or anyplace else, that we could go and rent a wheelchair and I would gladly push her wherever she wanted—that her lack of mobility didn’t have to mean doing without those outside entertainments.

Mother was horrified. I believe it was one of the few times she actually sputtered. She said that she would never be seen in a wheelchair being pushed about by her daughter as if she was disabled, and how could I even suggest such a thing! Her reaction confused me at the time, for I’d always known her to be a logical woman, and this reaction I believed was totally illogical.

Flash forward about thirty-five years, and I’ll preface the rest of this essay by saying that I have learned that sometimes earlier incidents rise up to bite us in the butt.

Like my mother, I suffer from severe osteoarthritis. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I need a cane to walk. This condition isn’t getting better, and actually became worse this past summer when I fell while on vacation.

Recently I applied for and received an “accessible parking permit”. This permit allows me to park my car in the designated handicapped spots here in Ontario. I’m not sure if I can use it when I travel to the United States, or not. That’s something I shall have to look into.

The reaction of every member of my family to the news of my having obtained this new car accessory is, “well, it’s about time!” Even some of my beloved’s co-workers have had the same reaction.

I think I understand my mother, now.

I’m not sure if I can adequately explain to you the combination of relief and sorrow this permit represents for me. On the one hand, I can park closer to the entrances of stores and restaurants. Sometimes, that can be a huge blessing, especially during busy times in very big parking lots.

Those who can walk mostly don’t think there could possibly be a down side to such a tool. But there is. Applying for that permit meant I was admitting to myself that I’m not ever going to walk unassisted again. Yes, I know, at least I can walk, and I’m usually the first one to count my blessings. But to a certain degree everything is relative. I can walk very short distances at a very slow pace. But I can’t run. I can’t dance. I can’t go on hikes, or climb trails. I can’t go for walks along the beach, or anywhere else, for that matter. But in my mind, until recently, a part of me hoped that I would, one day. Applying for that permit felt like giving up all hope.

That same psychology, for me, applies to my getting a scooter. I know I need one. Especially if I want to continue to go to conferences like RT and the RWA Nationals. The companies that make the scooters and power chairs advertise their service as a giving back of independence, and I suppose in a way they do; but they only give independence from other people. You’re still dependent on the machine, which in my mind and in my heart feels like dependence, period.

I know that if the choice is between using a scooter to do and see, or not doing and seeing, then a scooter is in my future. And I know, that in time, I’ll adjust completely and even be glad I decided to “get on with it”.

But in the mean time I’m reminded that what may be a blessing in one person’s eyes isn’t necessarily the same to another. And I’m reminded, too, that whatever my opinion of another’s circumstance may be, I need to forget my opinion and pay attention, instead, to their feelings.


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