Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hard Lessons and Grim Determination

It was good to get out of the car and move around. We've made stopping at Wegmans on our way home a bit of a tradition. It's nice to get out of the car, have lunch at their Market Cafe, and do a bit of shopping. It's only two hours, depending on border traffic of course, to home. We found ourselves a spot and chowed down, then it was off to shop.

We have a very particular shopping list. A few vegetarian items that aren't available in Canada top our most wanted list. I have a bag on the back of my chair to pick up things, Joe has the buggy. We split up and go on the hunt. For me, it's a nice time to get my body moving. It usually takes a few minutes to get into the right rhythm but, once there, I'm there. It's a large store and I see much of it.

This time we weren't very successful with what we were looking for but bought stuff we hadn't known we wanted or needed on the way in. From the cherry blossoms and 30 degree weather we'd come to cold, and wet, and rain. I pushed myself to the entrance and we decided to wait until Joe had loaded the car with groceries and then he cold give me a hand getting out to where we were parked.

When the door swung open, cold, damp, air came in and I felt a bit chilled. I hadn't worn a jacket because it was to be straight in, straight out. An older woman, noticing me sit there waiting, came over to me, purpose all over her face. I braced myself. It is said that the wheelchair is a magnet for social inappropriateness, and this has been my experience more than once.

She said, "They shouldn't have let you out without a coat." I bristled, the decision to not wear the sweater that Joe had offered me had been mine, AND, perhaps more importantly, no one had 'let me out.' Then she continued, "you speak up and tell people what you need. Trust me it took me a long time to find the courage to make my needs known. Don't you take as long as me. If you need a coat, ask for a coat." Then she looked at me seriously and grimly nodded her head. Work was done.

I went from being annoyed at her assumption to being kind of impressed with what she did. I'm guessing from what she said that her coming and speaking to me is a relatively new skill. I did see her work up to speaking to me and I did see the determination on her face. I'm guessing there was a journey there. While she mistook the situation and my need of her encouragement, in the end, I'm glad she did it and I hope she keeps doing it.

Someone exhorting another someone to speak up, giving testimony that it can be a hard learned skill, is an act of caring. In her case a kind of gruff caring done with grim purpose, but caring.

Post Script

On further reflection, though her advice did not fit that exact situations I was in, it fits in many other areas of my life. So, good on her.


Anonymous said...

Love the postscript! I guess it’s the spirit of the message that counts when the content is off the mark.

Deb said...

Boy, I could be that older woman. As a polio survivor, and with a muscle disorder to boot, I had it drummed into me that self-pity was not an option, and self-pity included asking for help. Die trying, but never ask for help.

It took me 60 years to be brave enough, to feel worthy enough, to ask for (or accept) help. It takes courage, especially for a woman raised in an era when women were expected to accept passively whatever was doled out.

So Bravo! for her bravery! And Bravo Dave, that you recognized that she was not an old woman extending pity but a warrior princess sharing her battle secret with a fellow soldier.

Anonymous said...

I love Deb’s comment too <3

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

"A warrior princess sharing her battle secret with a fellow soldier."

Oh, that is THE most delicious sentence!

Bravo, indeed!

Anonymous said...

Rude is rude - and she was rude. She also made assumptions. She was presumptuous as well. Like the bossy/rude lady on the bus, this woman took it upon herself to interject in your business. Yes, her personal story is one of victory - but that still doesn't give her the right to enter yours. For someone from within "the system", she showed little understanding. "Let you out" indeed. It seems like there is a double standard here. They (being disabled folks, I be one) want equal rights to have relationships and decision making - but when an error is made - oh, that's ok. They are such warriors. Geesh! If you want to be socially acceptable - then be socially acceptable. That includes standard rules of respect and boundaries. You can't just want all the "good stuff" and not have the responsibility and accountability that goes with it.