Touching down in England was so welcome. The flight was long, the airplane hot, the seats cramped. Getting out of the airplane and into my chair I was ready to get going. But I couldn't there weren't enough people to assist with those of us in wheelchairs and I had to wait as they tried to find someone to push me to customs - a walk of about 3 miles. I had to raise a bit of a fuss, something I'm thankfully good at. From customs it was to the car rental place and from there to the hotel. By the time it was all done, I was ready for a beer and a rest.
I came to the computer room to check emails and double check the blog, I had to write an email that I didn't want to write but had to get done. While I was doing that Joe was getting the luggage up to the room. He came and got me from the computer and we went to the bar. We have an English cell phone to use over here and we turned it on to reprogramme the time and date.
To our surprise the phone bleeped that there were messages. Four of them in fact. I called and found that there were no voice messages, then checked to find that the messages were all text. It took a while because I hadn't used the phone in a long time and couldn't figure out how to get messages off the phone. Finally I found the right button and retreived them.
Three were, 'Hi, Dave' and the fourth was a much longer message. Clearly Neil had tried four different times to text me. His message was a simple message of welcome and friendship. Neil and I met, the first time I think, at the Paradigm conference and then again in his home town as I did a conference for self advocates and a separate one for staff. He is a self advocate speaker himself and is rightly proud of what he had done and acheived.
But one of the things that Niel had acheived is the ability to think of others - to put himself out for someone else - he has the gift of welcome. While I work for Paradigm when I come to England, my purpose is Neil. It was nice to have my voice and my work acknowledged by a simple, 'welcome back'.
After a long day, I finally, smiled.