I didn't know when I got up in the morning that I would find a place in Connecticut that would be able to replace my wheelchair legs. I woke, instead, to a world wherein the difficulties in getting around were beginning to multiply. I had aches in my hip muscles from trying to hold them up and move. I had been giving more and more ground away. 'No, I'll just stay here.' 'No, you go ahead, I wait in the car.' I didn't realize that I participated in about it all. It was hard to stay back.
But Joe insisted we start with a real breakfast, not a fast food creation. So we stopped at a Cracker Barrel, it was approaching 9 and we figured it would be busy. For those who don't know the chain, it's an 'ye ol'country' kind of restaurant. It has a store with homespun stuff on one side, and a restaurant that transports you to a simpler time in American history. I normally love the store because after a quick breakfast, I like to wander through it. I always find some little treasure to take home. Not this time, I decided, it's just to labourious to get around in a chair without footrests.
My mood had darkened again when we got to the table. A woman, slightly older than I, offered us coffee - the default American drink. I asked for a green tea. She told me that they had regular tea but none of the fancy. As I am a Tea Diva, I carry my own and asked if I could just have a cup of hot water. I pulled my tea out of my wheelchair bag and set it on the table.
When she brought the water, she told me that she had read in Reader's Digest that green tea was good for you. She went on to say that her daughter had been diagnosed with breast cancer and her doctor also recommended that she try switching from coffee to green tea. I asked if she had tried it. 'We don't even know where to buy it!' She was surprised to learn that you could get green tea in many flavours in any major grocery store, just go to the tea section.
I asked her for an extra napkin and she brought it a few minutes later. I pulled open the top of my can of green tea and pulled out several bags. I folded them in the napkin, and gave them to her. Her eyes quickly filled with tears and her mouth said, 'No, no, no, you don't have to do that."
I told her that I have a friend, right now battling cancer and that green tea has been part of her health regimine and she swears it's helped. I could not hear of a woman who wants to try tea to regain health - and not help. She smiled, big, and said thank you.
Before we left I took her hand, I never do this, and said - I hope your daughter gets better, I hope the tea makes a difference. She looked away from me blinking her eyes, keeping control, "Frankly, I don't know if the tea will help her, but I can say that your kindness helped me."
We did take time in the store to wander around. My clunky way of moving seemed to be less of an issue right now. My clunky way of thinking about the world seemed to be a little out of sync with the way the world is.
If one has the power to be kind to another, it doesn't matter quite so much how well or how poorly you move. If one has the power to give a moments comfort to someone in distress, one still has the ability to do what I believe we are here to do.