Thursday, December 03, 2009

An Ordinary Day

When I got on the WheelTrans van headed for work, it was already pretty crowded. In the back corner was a tiny little woman holding on tight to a walker that had been folded up. I asked her if she would mind if I sat next to her. She didn't answer but she didn't shrink away at the idea, either. We drove away in silence and I relaxed into the drive.

A gentle but insistent series of 'whooops' brought my attention back to my seatmate who was making quiet noises beside me. She caught me looking at her and silenced. I hadn't meant to admonish her but I think I had done just that. I almost apologized but realized how silly, 'Go ahead and whoop if you want to, it doesn't bother me' sounds. And, I knew, she would not understand the words or the intent.

She had been on the bus before me, continued on past the next drop off and we finally arrived at her destination. With great care she rose to her feet and she really used her walker getting out. The driver ensured that she was heading in the right direction and then he closed the door and we headed off.

This may not seem like the stuff of a blog, but it is the stuff of life. Her life. There was a day, not really long ago, where people with significant disabilities did not experience the dignity of independence in any form. There was a day when people would have found her sounds frightening, her difference alarming. There was a day when she would not have sat next to me on that bus.

That day has passed.



Kristin said...

Hallelujah is right!

enablescotland said...

Great post, as always. I never cease to be moved by the everyday, ordinary things that are such an achievement for disabled people, both as individuals and a group.

Here's to the whoopers, loud and proud.

ivanova said...

Amen to that.

Yesterday in NYC I noticed a man with Down Syndrome collecting cans from a garbage bin. A lot of people have to do this in NYC and he only caught my attention because he looked so much like another man I know. At first I was incredibly sad that this man had to dig through the trash to make 5 cents a can. Then I started noticing how well-dressed he was and how confident he was, and how he was using classy luggage instead of a dirty shopping cart. He looked pleased with himself and he didn't look like a typical NYC homeless man. And I thought, what if there is a different scenario here? Maybe this man has just come up with this way to make some extra cash for candy bars, maybe it's his little secret. Or maybe he's a recycling nut. And, hey, he's out by himself, doing his own thing. The story of this man's life could be happy or sad or mixed, but I don't have to jump to conclusions and go down the "pity" road. Maybe some people would see the woman who sat next to Dave on the bus and feel sorry for her, but it doesn't sound like she needs it.

Greg said...

great post

Gone Fishing said...

We just spent a week at a school camp at a beach with an 10 year old (Severely?) Autistic girl whom my wife works with daily.

We have heard her called obnoxious,difficult, and other things and some people wonder why we bother with her.

I can now tell you we had no expectations of how she would handle the camp or behave however she just became one of the kids and gave us an amazing enjoyable time.

Yes there were occasional yells but overall she thrived, we enjoyed and admired an experience beyond compare, one of lifes great adventures which we will never forget.

You have not lived until you have walked beside a differently enabled person doing the impossible.