Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Putting Henry in His Place

I begin to wonder what people think, really think, about Joe and I. Certain members of my parent's generation refer to us, think of us, and relate to us as room-mates. That's all their minds can do and to greater and lesser degrees, we're ok with that. We have always recognized that our anniversaries are seen as less important and less significant than those of our heterosexual friends even those who are on marriage contract four or five. But we go on being a couple and acting like a couple and we figure that eventually the world will catch up ... as it has in many ways.

This is all background for what I want to write today. I know this is going to sound petty and whiny, but it's been bothering me and I determine to write what bothers me. So here goes ... it's about the power chair.

Henry, my lovely blue power chair, is a wonderful machine. He moves me quickly from place to place, I can independantly go where I used to go before. Lovely. I'll say to Joe, meet you in 10 minutes and then head off to do what I need to do on my own. I love those moments where I feel I'm independant. But I always, I guess it's expected after 40 years together, feel like I'm an independant part of a greater whole. That I leave Joe only to come back to him. That I go to the drug store only to meet him in the book store. He still is the beginning and the end of my journey.

But people say the oddest things: (to Joe) "Well, you've been replaced." "What are you going to do now that Dave doesn't need you anymore?" "You're going to be left behind now."

As if that wasn't bad enough: (to me) "It must be nice not to need Joe any more."

I'm stopping with that one because I feel upset rising in my chest.

These things are all said with good humour and I know that people are not meaning what they say. But the fact is ... they are saying it ... repeatedly.

Joe can never be replaced by anything. Have you met him? He may be the finest person I know and I am forever in awe at the fact that I get to live with him. These words of separation which express somehow a life without Joe are frankly frightening and unsettling. I cannot be who I am if he does not continue to be who he is. I hope the reverse is also true.

So, yes, I have a new power chair. And yes, it's nice that I have a degree of independance that I didn't have before. But I ride along side of Joe, as I have for the past nearly 40 years, and that's exactly where I want to be.

So please, could you just say, "Nice chair?"

18 comments:

unpregnantmother said...

Nice chair Dave. How's Joe doing? ;-)

wendy said...

"He is the beginning and the end of my journey". I love that line so much. I feel that way about my partner, too, but would never have put it so eloquently.
Roll on Dave, independent in the world but always with a beginning and an end to your journey!

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Nice chair :-)

Sorry that some can't manage to embrace the idea of you and Joe together as something ever so much more than just "carer" and "caree" :-(

But, the fact that you still feel so much awe just at the idea of being able to live together with Joe is a beautiful and amazing thing. I hope he feels that awe about you too! (I'm sure he does :-) )

Anonymous said...

How about what a wonderful partner you have Dave, you and Joe are a wonderful couple.

And I like the colour of your chair.

Nathan Dawthorne said...

If if Henry made you breakfast and had a huge vibrator to swing off of, nothing can replace the love of someone who cares about you! Amen to that!

Wheelie Catholic said...

This one doesn't take me by surprise, but you certainly don't need remarks like that tossed at you and the comments are great.

It has parallels -confusing a piece of equipment with a person - hmmm where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, people do that when they see the wheelchair and not the person too. And the person pushing the wheelchair- extended to him/her too? I guesso.

Geeze.

Janey said...

Nathan, um, not that it matters but, um, where would you buy the wheelchair you describe?

Janey

Ettina said...

It sounds like they can't imagine a gay disabled man, so they're assuming Joe's just a carer.

Rosemary said...

Amen, Dave! Forty years together is not replaced by a chair. Good gosh. ( I would be lost without my DH of 40 years, too). People sometimes say the dumbest things.

FAB said...

Hey Dave nice chair! And what a man, and couple you and Joe both are. I've written before, as you know about the great relationship you and Joe have. I think it's something other couples can aspire to, and it has absolutely nothing to with how anyone gets around!

I'd like to add that I adore my own partner James and can't imagine a life without him...But Nathan's chair sounds fun!

Tamara said...

Sometimes I think the most painful questions and comments are the ones meant not to be.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing about your relationship with Joe.

Jenn McWhorter said...

I love my power chair, but it can never ever replace my Sam. It doesn't hug me, it doesn't talk with me, it doesn't hold my hand when I'm rolling down the street. Those times when we separate in stores, I definitely notice that Sam is not beside me. People can be so dense sometimes. I'd love to give the people who say things like that a dildo or fleshlight and say: now YOU don't need YOUR spouse any more, either, because you've got a mechanical device to replace him/her.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Jenn, the 'fleshlight' is the single most creepy sex toy I've ever seen ... ewwww

Anonymous said...

Versions of this get said to 'old married people'. Gay or not, disabled or not. Imagine Edith finds her passion in painting, and starts to make some money at it. Her bingo friends then start to tease her - "I guess you won't be keeping ol' Earl around much longer! You can take care of yourself now".

imfunnytoo said...

I'm very jealous of your chair...

Blue is my color...

And 40 years together... How many couples can claim that these days...

It's so sweet.

Alia said...

Now Joe can walk beside you, where he belongs, instead of behind you.

Melissa said...

Some people just don't get it.

I love hearing about you and Joe :-)