Her face stopped me cold.
I was leaving the lecture room I'd spent the day in at Community Living Windsor and I paused to put my gloves on - they give me better traction for pushing the chair. I noticed that I'd stopped by one of those information boards that agencies use to travel around and set up. This one was quite lovely. It had picture after picture on it of people with disabilities living their lives.
A sucker for photo albums I had to look over the display. I'm one of those really strange people who like it when old ladies pull out photo albums and take me on a long tour of their lives, their loves and their relations. I even like people's movies of their vacations. These are opportunities for a glimpse into another life. So I stayed by the board for some while.
One photo drew me back often. It was of a man with a disability working at some kind of machine. The kind of contraption that you'd see in a machine shop. His hands were paused, midair, as he looked directly into the lens of the camera with a great big bright smile.
I don't know if the smile was because he was enjoying the attention of the camera or if he was smiling because he was working somewhere cool, doing something cool or if he was smiling just because - just because he was happy. Either way, it was nice to see. Then the other pictures drew me in. Smile after smile - a face of a guy with Down Syndrome in a pool, his beard sopping wet, holding on for dear life to a swim instructor in a swimming pool - a face of someone grinning to beat the band while out in the community.
Because I work so much with abuse. So much with people who are troubled, in trouble or causing trouble - I can forget.
And this board of pictures did more than inform me about the Association and the work it did, it brought to my mind of the many many joyous times that I've had in care to people with disabilities. I needed reminding.
There is only constant night if you sleep during the day.
Just before leaving I looked at the big strong man - with the big strong smiling face.
Those hands, suspended in mid air, lifted me.
As big as I am.
They lifted me.