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?"