She wore a bright yellow blouse. Her hair was pulled back neatly and held in place by a matching yellow scrunchie. Her hands held tightly on to her walker, her steps were small and delicate. Beside her walked a strong limbed young woman, who had, with some effort, matched her steps to walk along side. Just before the corner, she paused, moved the walker to the side, and sat down. They, together, chatted. One standing, one resting, with the journey yet to come waiting on the decision to begin again.
He sat on a tiny stool in the children's section of the book store. His son nestled in his lap. A vacant wheelchair beside them. Amid the stares of other parents and other children, he softly read a story to his little boy. The child relaxed into the warmth of his father's body, his eyes were heavy. He listened to the story, he listened to the love in his father's voice. Soon a sleeping child is placed back into his wheelchair, a book is placed back on a shelf, and a father, with the journey yet to come, pauses and looks at his boy.
A man, gray at the temples, is looking confused. He's not sure if it's safe to step out onto the street. Even though this is a downtown street corner, there is no light here. Crossing is determined by judgement, not colour. The young woman with him, maybe a third his age, simply places her hand on his arm to calm him. She says quietly, 'Just take a look, you know you know how to do this.' He waits for a car to pass, suddenly he sees the journey ahead of him and decides to make the crossing. He does so safely. He does so, on his decision not hers. His face shows pride.
It's Labour Day weekend, everywhere I go I see people engaged in the job of journey. Freedom and liberty are twenty four hour experiences. Thousands of people in this city, millions of people across the globe, go about the business of making community happen for thousands and millions of others. Work that is undervalued, underpaid and often misunderstood is done because it's the right thing to do, is done because making life possible for one, makes life possible for all. Institutions close because some choose to do the work that needs to be done. Nursing home beds sit empty because some choose to get up early to get others up later. Hospitals save lives because some choose to wash floors and wash sheets, while others choose to dress wounds and address needs.
It's Labour Day weekend, and children with disabilities wake to parents who rise daily to the work involved in parenting, and the extra time it takes to do what other parents never need think about. It's Labour Day weekend and people like Joe, who need to do more to make the same life as others, to make my life possible, do what they do because it needs doing. A labour of love, is still labour. It's Labour Day weekend and thousands of people make a holiday weekend for others by denying a holiday weekend for themselves. Time can be bought, but compassion can only ge given freely.
I think of Vita, where I work, I think of the faces of all those with disabilities that I know there. They, today, are going about their business because there are those at work today - going about their job of making life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness possible. And Vita is just one of hundreds. As a child I realized, one day, that I would never be able to count the stars in the night sky. As an adult, I realize, today, that I can never know the number of people who through choice, through circumstance, through concern, care for others who need care. From earth we see the brightness of stars. From heaven we see the lights of home, of freedom and of justice - lamps lit by those who care enough to strike the match.
From me, here in my wheelchair, at my computer, in my home made possible not just by the love, but by the work of another, I want to say thank you today, to all who work to make community happen, who make liberty possible and who's commitment to freedom changes the world, every day.
And, of course, to Joe, who's work is noticed seldomly by others but makes every day possible for me.