As the credits were rolling, so was I. I stopped to watch for Sadie, who was coming up the stairs towards me (more on that tomorrow). I heard the sound of struggle and turned to see a woman with a disability struggling to get out of her seat. She had sat in the seat right behind a railing and was using it to help her rise. I turned away, I don't like people watching me when I'm struggling and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like it either.
But even with turning away, I could hear that she had fallen back into her seat. Her breathing was rough and ragged. I didn't know what to do. Then I thought, 'Yeah, I kinda do.' I rolled over to her turned my chair so my strongest arm was the one most available. I said, "I have a very strong arm. It gets it's strength from pushing myself around in my other wheelchair. Would you like to use it to help yourself get up.' She smiled. And thought.
Then she said, 'I sit here so I can use the railing. It's still hard, but I can usually get up.' I said, 'OK,' and then before leaving, 'Did you like the movie?'
She said, 'Could you stay with me for a moment, we can talk about the movie while I continue to try and get up?'
I said, 'Absolutely.'
She took a couple of tries more but managed to get herself up. I didn't offer again, because she had said 'No.' And, in all ways, 'No means no.' She did love the movie and she chatted about the big scene and I admitted to her that it made me cry.
Sadie was up and beside me now and, as the woman was standing, I wished her well. I joked, 'I guess you didn't need my arm after all.' She laughed.
As I was pulling away, she called to me, 'I think you got it wrong. I may not have used your arm, but I used your strength. Thank you.'
As both a person and as a person with a disability, I understood exactly what she meant.