Monday, April 18, 2016

The Lift

Image description: An elevator pad with two buttons, up and down, a finger is reaching to push the 'up' button.
The elevator door opened and there he was. Sitting in his wheelchair, maybe 12, looking a bit bored as might be expected when going into a clothing store with his mom, and watching me come out of the elevator. I was in my manual and pushing myself. Joe was beside me. His eyes, noticing me, my chair and my lack of aloneness, watched me carefully.

I did what Canadians do when in this situation, I apologized for being in the elevator. I pushed myself out. Stopped a little in front of him and said, "Nice to see someone else on four wheels." He spoke with a heavy cerebral palsy accent saying, "You bet." I started pushing again but stopped almost immediately. I didn't think about it until later but he hadn't moved, which meant that his mother was letting her son's interaction with me play itself out, she didn't rush forward to the closing doors. I could write, but won't, a whole blog about that itself!

I had noticed him notice me and the chair and my lack of aloneness. So I said, "Before I go, and in case you are wondering, yes, I have a job, yes, I have a home, yes, I'm married, yes, I spent my money buying what I wanted. Expect more. Expect better."

He burst into a big grin.

"I will," he said.

I reached back behind me and pushed the elevator button, it hadn't left so the doors slid open and I pushed on by. I heard them getting on the elevator as I was leaving the building.

I don't normally intrude into people's lives like that. It's a risk. But, in that moment, at that time, it seemed like a good one to take.

I wish someone had told me to expect more, expect better, when I was young. I think maybe, through telling him, I was reminding me.

4 comments:

kstableford said...

Love, love, love this.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Your instincts are honed by years of interacting with people, disabled and not - I'd trust your instincts over most people's.

If you don't say something like that - who will? His parents, obviously, but you are a member of the community, and that will mean a lot to the boy.

Frank_V said...

As I approached my forties (I'm 52 now), and living with my then girlfriend (who is now my wife), I wished I had a time machine. If I did have a time machine, I would travel back in time, and tell my younger self, "Hang in there buddy! All those operations, all the bullies, all the stupid governmental bureaucrats that ever messed up my day/week/month/year, NONE of it would matter, and that I would get into a groove, and that life would be AWESOME!

You sir Dave, in a manner of speaking, are a time traveler, reaching back several generations, and offering that boy a great vision to behold: YOUR AWESOME LIFE!

SammE said...

That young man will remember your words and encouragement forever. :) I used to hang out after school with a "four wheeler", and was saddened that his parents didn't encourage him to do everything he was capable of doing. (I was mean. I made him turn on the light switch which he was certain he wasn't able to do. He was.) Happily, this young fellow is finishing his third certification at college and I'm so proud of him! He will always need help, but there is so much he CAN do, that I hope he is able to move out on his own, as people his age do, into a setting where his needs are met, maybe a boarding situation where his PSW comes for those needs, and someone can cook for him etc., but his abilities are encouraged. The youngster you met has seen a great role model in you, Dave. :)