From a couple of days ago: We realized just before going to the cashier that we'd forgotten the eggs. Joe looked at me and said, 'Would you mind running over and grabbing the eggs, it'll be faster?' I nodded and then quickly turned my chair around and motored over to get the eggs. It felt wonderful being the one doing something to lessen the load. It felt wonderful to be independent enough to easily fulfill an everyday request. Simply, it feels good to be the one helping, it changes status and raises confidence.
I wonder if she knew that.
We were having a tea at our favourite outdoor cafe here in downtown. There's very little room and they pack in too many tables. I pulled into one of the tables on the outer rim of the cluster. I was in position to watch people walk down Yonge Street, an activity that can keep me entertained for hours on end. Joe had placed the teas beside me and plopped into a chair himself. We were unwinding on an unexpectedly beautiful day.
I saw the two of them coming, eyeing a table near us, the only one presently open. I could see near desperation in both faces. They were carrying parcels and packages, they were near stumbling as they rushed. I tried to signal that I'd hold the table for them but they didn't see me try to reassure them. They arrived and both fell into their seats.
They were clearly mother and daughter. They were clearly exhausted. As I heard the daughter speak I heard the drawl of a cerebral palsy accent saying, 'I'll get us the coffees.' The mother simply said, 'OK, just don't kill anyone on the way back OK?' Her daughter flung forward with a laugh and then calming herself said, 'Don't worry, I'll just burn the assholes.' Now mother laughed. They both turned as they heard Joe laugh - he can't stop himself. We all smiled at each other. I think me in my wheelchair moved us all into an odd kind of 'band of brothers'.
The daughter got up and walked relatively smoothly to the door of the cafe and then in. We didn't fall into conversation with mother as she busied herself with organizing the packages which were in a jumble at her feet. I watched at the door and then realized that the whole of the terrace of tables were turned and watching the door. Like we were waiting for a blessing from the Pope, or for the Queen to appear on her balcony. Everytime the door opened, the group tensed waiting for the woman to arrive with hot coffees for her table.
In a hideous moment I felt a bit like we were at a freak show, all waiting for the fat lady to dance, or the stong man to strong. But then I noticed that the faces weren't curious, they were in an odd way hopeful, and an odder way respectful - none was gawking, or openly staring, or even mildly mocking. When she appeared carrying the coffee's she was amazingly steady and walked as if she knew that people were watching and that people had watched for years and years. But more than that it was as if she walked with an odd bit of pride, a 'take that' attitude of accomplishment.
She placed the coffee beside her mother and at her place. Then she sat down. Mother seemed to relax just a little bit, like it might have been hard for her to let go of the helping role and just wait for her daughter to be the one who served. Like it was hard to ask, and harder to recieve. The daughter took a sip and said, 'Know what's hotter than this coffee?' pause 'The guy who served it,' and the two of them were off talking, always mother and daughter, but often, a little, like friends.