Monday, February 29, 2016


Image Description: Bad line drawing of a man in a power wheelchair racing a child down a sidewalk of a residential street.
Just living in a neighbourhood, being out and about, you get to have a nodding acquaintance with the 'regulars' who you see, well, regularly. Living at the centre of Canada's largest city means that there are so many people, tourists, visiting business people, and other such strangers. There is a comfort in seeing others who call this place home.

I ran into one such woman yesterday. She has two small children, one a boy of about three another a little girl who is about to enter toddlerhood. We've spoken only once, a time when Ruby and Sadie were with us, when she remarked on how wonderfully the girls worked with us when we were out together. Her children were struggling with simple safety rules, seeing her as a tyrant rather than a loving protector.

Yesterday we all ran into each other on one of the quiet side streets of the city, both going the same direction. Her son looked up at her, and said, "But mom, I have to race, I JUST HAVE TO." There was both plea and desperation in his voice. She looked over at me and said, "Will you?" I looked down at him and said, "I'll race you to the tree up there." He looked at me and said, "Really?" Then looked at his mother for confirmation. She shouted, "1, 2, 3, Go!" And we were off.

He beat me by a few seconds. Like Ruby and Sadie used to do, he ran screaming for joy all the way. He laughed and joked with me about the race as his mother, her daughter and Joe caught up to where we were waiting. She thanked me, I told her, as I had told him, that I like to race too.

We parted ways by me telling the little boy that next time I'd beat him fair and square. He looked at me, defiant, 'Never!"

It was a great start to what turned out to be a great day. I liked being recognized as a fellow human being who, because I was in a wheelchair, was uniquely qualified to help out. I liked being recognized as someone from the neighbourhood who knew what it was to be out with kids and knew what it was to keep them safe. I like being recognized as all of me. A disabled man who was at the right place at the right time, with a chair raring for a race.

She didn't see the person first.

She saw and needed me - disability, chair and all else that came with it.

I am a disabled man. And I can race children to trees with the best of them. All of me, all of me, all of me. That what I want, people to see all of me. My disability, my chair, my me ... all of it together, because that's the package.

The whole package.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sweaty Bells

Image description: A cut out heart of a cartoon weight lifters hands on a bar reaching through the floor fallen through.
Some of you will have noticed that I haven't written a post for a few days now. I've got a couple of nice emails asking me if I was OK. I realized then that I should have written a brief explanation. So, here I am, a little late, but explaining.

First, I'm fine.

Second, quite simply my schedule has changed and I'm having trouble with adjusting all the rest of what needs to be done in the morning into a typical and working pattern. I'm thinking about some options and may have hit on something that might work. We'll see next week.

The change to my schedule is one that has already shown me benefits. I typically exercise for a half hour every morning. A bit of aerobics and bit of stretching and a bit of weight-lifting - although a young friend of mine told me that a 5 pound dumbbell isn't a 'weight.'  That routine has now, because it was time to kick it up a bit, become an hour. Yikes.

Now, consider, that I get to work at 7 in the morning, I'm on the bus around 6, it takes me an hour to shower dress and get breakfast, and I get up an hour before that to do my hour exercise. The blog time just disappeared and, given the fact that my days are busy right until I get home and once home I'm tired, I couldn't seem to make that time reappear. But, I'm going to try. I had three rants for last week and couldn't rant them - you can imagine how frustrating that was.

On Friday I went to a training and, as is typical, Joe came along to help me if I needed it. And I did need his help. But, and this matters, not as much. The floor was carpeted. I was in my manual chair. The men's washroom was a long way from where I was seated. I was able to easily push myself to the bathroom and back. I needed help with the doors, and I needed help with some other stuff, but not with pushing back and forth. All the way. No problem. Literally no problem. It was easy. I was astonished.

So, that extra half hour of weights, in which I'm up to 8 pounds dumbbells in the last couple of days, has made a real difference.

That's what's happening.

I'm fine.

And stronger.

Let's see how next week goes for blog posts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Making It In

I wonder if weather forecasters realize that part of their audience listens to their reports in an almost visceral way. I think they get that truck drivers and taxi drivers and bus drivers rely on them to help plan times and routes and to make sure they make good decisions regarding their life and their work. I'm not sure they get that people with disabilities are also glued to the forecasts trying to get every bit of information from them. The weather determines a lot about what I do and don't do - this is particularly true in winter.

In winter snow covers cut curbs and makes everything slippery. My manual chair is nearly useless in the snow and my power chair does well but often there's no room on the sidewalk for me and the curbs are impassible. Work is doable because I take WheelTrans which runs 24/7 but when they ask that passengers take only emergency trips so that the system is free to serve those going to and from hospitals and treatment centres - it can be hard to think of work as being in the same category of need.

The difficulty is, they so often get it wrong. They predicted that today would be horrible for travel, I however decided to bet differently. I'm at work. Got here fine.


Having said that.

All the emotion and fuss that goes into making these kinds of decisions, the getting up at 3 to see peek out and see if travel is possible, is exhausting.


I got here fine.

Now, if they'd let me nap.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Poverty And The Perfect People

Image description: A poster with the words: IF I CAN'T DANCE IS IT STILL MY REVOLUTION? and a graphic of the wheelchair symbol holding up a middle finger
Sometimes you just fall into the wrong conversation, don't you. Joe and I were having a cuppa tea at our local spot and I was telling him about the fact that I'm writing a short summation about poverty and disability with particular emphasis on intellectual disability. We were a few moments into the conversation when a woman, sitting at the next table, asked if I had said that I was writing something about poverty. I said that I was. She introduced herself as a poverty advocate. (I didn't say that I would think that people would advocate against poverty - I've never understood putting those two words together.)

The conversation was interesting for a short while and then it became really strange. As she came to realize that my emphasis was on people with intellectual disabilities, and as she came to understand what that term meant, her interest began to immediately wane. She actually said that at least poverty didn't effect 'those people' in the same way as 'regular people' because they are happy just with the simple things. They don't realize their poverty in the same way. I don't like any conversation that involves the terms 'those people' and 'regular people' so it was hard to keep my calm. I asked her if she was suggesting that God made a people perfectly adapted to a life of poverty? She said, "No, but I always think of them smiling and happy, never as poor and wretched." I had to end the conversation. She didn't understand why, I was too angry to explain. I am not always perfectly suited to teach.

It strikes me though how easily people with intellectual disabilities are exempted from the discussion. The belief that they, as a people do not experience issues regarding:


They are just happy to live life.


They don't understand, poor dears.


They don't feel pain the way we do.


They cope so well with rape and battery don't they?

The exclusion of people with disabilities from discussions regarding any of these issues is done, in the minds of others, for their own good. They don't need to be at the table - it would just upset them. While all re research suggests that people with intellectual disabilities have a peculiar claim on all these issues, they are virtually ignored when discussing them and, as a result, are often at the bottom of the priority list for responding. What's the peculiar claim? They experience all of these things at a higher rate than any other group.

But why would we talk about that?

Isn't it better to just post a picture of someone with Down Syndrome on Facebook and have people write AMEN if they just love the smiling face in the picture?

Action that is inaction and action that perpetuates inaction shouldn't be tolerated. The issues that people with intellectual disabilities face, the very real social issues, need to be discussed. Because those 'AMEN faces' are going to face violence and discrimination and poverty, and they are going to do it in a cocoon of silence because apparently God made a people perfectly suited to a disrespected life.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Tisket a Tasket

Image Description: Joe standing proudly displaying his basket. The basket is a large rectangular wicker basket with a wicker top.
We went out yesterday.

Both Joe and I have been laid low by a cold. We haven't left the house in days, except for a visit to the doctor (whoo hoo!) This doesn't really count as an 'outing' it counts as an 'appointment', I learned this from the work I do and the differing forms required for each act of living.

Yesterday morning we were gifted with a reason to go out. Joe's big laundry basket collapsed. Just collapsed. It was a big wicker basket and when he was down in the laundry room it up and died. So, we were in need of something that gave us a mission for a experimental trip out. It would allow us to see if we were indeed doing better.

Wrapped up in a huge bundle of clothing, I was ready to go. Joe chose his heavy coat and a matching black and gray scarf. We were winter ready. Joe looked dapper, I looked ... warm. We headed out the door and down the street. The day was warmer than we expected and I soon began to sweat. But it wasn't far, I could peal off six or seven layers for the way home.

We found a big laundry basket, and when we were on the street arranging ourselves to get home, I volunteered to carry the basket. Joe protested, without much conviction, and we were off. I'm used to carrying things home, of course, but this was a bit big and a bit cumbersome. It was a little difficult seeing curbs, but I was managing just fine.

About two blocks from home I saw a couple, maybe in their twenties, standing and gawking at me. Openly gawking. They saw me see them but they didn't stop, the didn't care. They were simply unable to move, stuck to the ground by their fascination with my particular difference.

As I went by, I glanced at the young woman and said, "I think you might want to be a bit concerned that your boyfriend has been staring at my basket for the last few minutes." Then I turned to him and said, "Sorry, babe, but I'm married." Joe overhearing this added, "Get your eyes off my man's basket."

They stayed rooted to the spot. We didn't burst into laughter til we turned the corner. Then we howled. We didn't hear them laughing behind us.

We were tired when we got home, but you know, that little interchange put a bit of spring into my step.

Now if spring would come.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Just Ask

Image Description: The words JUST ASK written on what looks to be the side of a crumpled paper bag.
Everything is fine.

I am well.

Except for a cold.

I'm going to write about a conversation with my doctor and every time I mention seeing the doctor I receive emails from people asking how I am and I have to stomp out rumours that I'm really sick and have quit working and lecturing. So ...

I'm fine.


For the last several visits to my doctor, I've had a couple of questions that I wanted to ask. They were questions that I found hard forming into words, not because I didn't know the words but because I didn't want to string them in a sentence. I didn't want to have them spoken out loud in sequence because, somehow, the whole thing embarrassed me.

It's not about sex.


I have no trouble asking my doctor about sex.

It's not about my genitals.

I've already aired my genitals to the world ... and really, have you met me?

So, anyways, now that I'm comfortable you aren't guessing (are you?) because the topic isn't what matters, it was my reticence to speak to my doctor about something that concerned me because I thought I'd be embarrassed, deeply, in front of him. Now my doctor is a cool guy. He answers questions in a way that is both dispassionate and friendly at the same time. I imagine, that after a while, family doctors are hard to shock. But at the same time, I realized, when thinking of it, that even though he's a doctor, he's also a person and sometimes people who are persons can be judgemental. Yikes. I don't want that.

I had a follow up appointment with my doctor yesterday and I was determined to just out with my questions. I mean why not? What can I lose? So, after everything checked out fine I asked him if I could ask him a couple of questions. I needed some information and I didn't know where to find it. So he looked at me indicating to go ahead.

So I did.

And the world didn't stop.

He didn't fall out of the chair.

I didn't die of embarrassment.

He just thought for a second and said, "I don't know. But we have someone here at the office whose job it is to find those kinds of things out. Would you like me to have her track the information down and get to you, probably next week?"

Um, yeah.

It was done.

I left thinking about the MONTHS of worry and work it took to get me to the point that I could openly ask questions that I needed to ask. MONTHS!!

So, here I am, living proof that asking and seeking are better than hiding and worrying. Now that it's done I don't know why I was worried. My doctor's reaction is entirely in line with his character and his professionalism - why did I make him different in my mind? Why did I make myself shameful over reasonable questions to ask? I don't know.

So, if you have a question, and you have a safe person to ask, ask it.


It will be okay!

Even if you get an answer that you aren't wanting, knowing is better than worrying.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Needed: The Practice of Power

I've seen a few stories around, heartwarming of course, about either groups of kids or an individual child taking a protective role for a kid with a disability in a school or classroom who is being bullied. I'm not going to highlight any particular story because I don't want to be seen as critical of those kids doing those things in those places.

But the stories bother me.


Well several reasons.

1) If these children are taking responsibility for dealing with, and protecting a disabled kid from, bullying ... that means that adults aren't doing the same. It infuriates me that schools aren't safe places for all kids, and that the primary reason for that is that teachers and administrators aren't addressing the issue in an effective way, or even in an ineffectual way that demonstrates that at least they care. Most often parents get the 'what do you expect us to do about it?' response. Well, if these kids in these stories can come up with effective strategies, why did they have to?

2) I love that these kids did what they did, I love that they acted when adults had not, I love that they took responsibility, I do. I worry about the press they have gotten and the attention that has been paid to them for what they do. I think that attention changes the story and, in one case I saw with the kids interviewed, they started to sound like a group of staff caring for a kid with a disability, rather than a group of friends motivated to take care of one of their own. It shifts the kids focus from doing the right thing for the right reasons to kids who get paid attention, instead of dollars, for doing the 'job' of protecting. I also worry that, for the viewer or consumer of these stories, the message becomes exceptional kids take care of exceptional kids. The idea that there is something wonderful about kids who don't stand by and watch others bullied and teased. Isn't it incumbent upon all kids and all adults that we act when we see unfairness, discrimination and hurt? I worry that rather than simple acts of humanity become exceptional acts of heart or soul.

3) Why does the child with a disability need protection at all? Where is the teaching? Where is the skill development? Dealing with bullying and teasing and unfair practices and prejudicial attitudes requires skill and insight - we all need them, most of us have them in one form or another. If we don't have the skill of standing up to the bully, we have cognitive ways to understand the actions of the bully and internal strategies for caring for ourselves. All these strategies are simple. Easily taught. But they require practice and they require, of course, a teacher. In all these stories there is the question in my mind ... "and yeah, when those kids aren't there?" Teaching abuse prevention and bullying strategies should be an obvious place to go when the data indicates that kids with intellectual disabilities are the most often bullied and teased group in a school.


I don't know what you think.

But, I say that I'm grateful that there are good people in the world, good kids in the world, but I am even more grateful when people who need to deal with people - can. But until the narrative of 'wonderful non-disabled kids take care of poor disabled kids' is replaced by a narrative of kids with disabilities with power and with voice and with the skills to use them, we're going to get "heart warming" stories rather than "fuck yeah!" stories.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's A Choice! Oh Shit!

Image description: Deadpool without his mask.
We loved Deadpool. We thought it was a wildly funny movie and thought that Ryan Reynolds' performance made the movie. I found, in a movie that was all violence, wise cracks and wink wink humour, that there was a moment of profound truth. I didn't expect, going in, to ever identify with any character that Mr. Reynolds ever played. I mean, I'm fat, I'm old, I'm bald and I'm disabled, Mr. Reynolds isn't any of those things. Sometimes I think these guys and I aren't even the same species. But, I was wrong.

I don't believe this to be a spoiler but, be cautious going forward if you haven't seen the film, there was a moment of incredible and powerful truth in a movie that never presents itself as anything more than a fun night out. I thought that sneaking it in was almost a 'nod' to those of us who actually live with and understand the complex aspects of being different. I would like to think it purposeful, but I fear it may not have been. It is an easy scene to be described. Deadpool, before he was Deadpool was a wildly handsome man, who looked a lot like Ryan Reynolds on his very best day. Along with his transformation into a superhero came a transformation into a man with physical and facial differences. He still turned heads, but for a different reason.

In the scene, he simply walks down the street, face uncovered, unmasked. He notices the looks, the stares, the dropped jaws and the features of disgust on faces turned away. He notices them, he feels them and they hurt. In the theatre I was in I could hear, literally hear, people respond to this scene. It was a fairly full theatre so saying I could hear the gasps and murmurs of disapproval of the behaviours of those on the screen. The audience saw their reaction and they identified with his feelings and understood that what those people on the street did to Deadpool was simply wrong.


I leaned over to Joe at this moment in the movie and said, "Boy, don't I understand what's happening here." Joe, who tires of the stares and judgements of the passers by and the stand and gawkers in the same way I do, nodded in hearty agreement.

But then ... immediately after, it was back to the fun and I was swept away on the ride. I loved it, so did Joe. I was pleased for that moment, and I was pleased they didn't preach about it, showing it was enough, acknowledging it was really reaffirming an a way.


When we left the theatre, that very same audience who had reacted with understanding and concern for a FICTIONAL CHARACTER WHO DIDN'T REALLY EXIST AND WHO DOESN'T REALLY HAVE HUMAN FEELINGS, immediately did the same with me. They turned, they stared, they had judgement on their faces and bathroom scales for eyes.


Before I left the theatre. As I sat politely and waited for a break in the line up of people coming down the stairs, I endured stares. One woman almost stumbled because she was staring/glaring at me as she made a step.

What the freaking fuck?

Empathy, understanding and care for a fictional person who endures social violence and then perpetrating the same thing on a living breathing feeling person.




And scary.

It tells me that people have the ability to be compassionate and kind and that there are those who are purposefully not using it.

We have a long way to go.

But, now, we've got Deadpool on the team.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Small Moment of Truth: At The Movies

Image description: A photo of a moment in the movie where Margaret is being pushed in her wheelchair by Alan.

Joe and I decided to see The Lady in the Van on Family Day, which is a February holiday in many parts of Canada, and we knew we'd have to go early to get seats because our local cinema has a decidedly elderly and disabled audience. The wheelchair seating is often at a premium! As it happened we got there in plenty of time to sit back, relax and, enjoy the pre-show as we were often instructed to do.

Without question, we loved the movie. I told a wonderful and completely human story. And though it never used the word 'family' it was about 'family.' There was a moment, though, and I don't think this is a 'spoiler' but be cautious about reading further if you don't want to know anything about the movie before going ... I'm like that.

The moment is a moment that anyone in a wheelchair would understand as completely real. Margaret, the elderly woman in the story, asks Alan, the man whose driveway she overtakes, asks him for a push up to the end of the street. When they are near the top of the street, she tells him to stop. He is confused. They aren't anywhere but at the top of the street. She turns the wheelchair round and let's go! She flies down the street laughing, loving the movement and the feel of the road beneath her and the wind that blew through her hair.

Many in the theatre were laughing, because it is a funny moment. But I wasn't. My hands were over my mouth and I was savouring, finally, a real moment about disability on the screen. A real moment of joy that is unique to wheelchair users like me. When it was over I glanced over at the other person in a wheelchair who glanced at me ... we had both loved what we saw and were glad to share it together.

I seldom see truth in films about disability.

This was a truthful moment.

And I was deeply thankful for it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

No Opinion Wanted

Image description: Side view of a man, with an obvious cold, he has tissue at his nose and a tear running from his eye.

I have a cold.

I've had it for the whole long weekend.

My nose is clogged, I've gone through a few ton of tissue and as a result my nose is rubbed raw. As a result of that, my CPAP machine and my nose wrestled all night.


You know, being in a wheelchair is one thing.

Having a cold is another thing entirely.

I'm tired, and sick, and I'm about to leave for work.



But that's life isn't it.

Everyone does it.

No one says, 'I'd rather be dead than have a cold.'

No, they cope, and they go on.

Being in a wheelchair, for me, is less disabling, right now, than having a cold. And you know what, I'm not considering suicide. Imagine that.

Wouldn't want a doctor's opinion though!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love, Anyway: A Celebration of Radical Family Love

Today, in Ontario, and various other parts of Canada, it's a holiday. The real reason the government instituted another stat holiday was because our Februarys are so bleak that we all needed a day off to both lighten and brighten our souls. The day, here, is called 'Family Day.' This was instituted to celebrate families. There is, they believe, strength in families and power in the family unit. I couldn't agree more.

My first lecture this year was for families and I spoke about the Ring of Safety, the skills their children needed in order to have a shot at a safe life. The idea of 'protection' doesn't work when most of the abuse comes from those who are designated to 'protect' does it? Power needs to be learned, power needs to be practiced and power needs to be actively encouraged. Everyone has power, so no one is empowered by another - a ridiculous concept as power isn't gifted, but needless of the fact we all have it, we may not have dared use it.

That day, with those families, was fabulous. They got up on a Saturday morning and came to a lecture so they could better parent their kids. Talk about an audience that's motivated. I left moved by the experience, as I am always when I work with families in groups.

Families of people with disabilities have not been credited with the work they have done. The concepts of  'community living' and 'inclusion' and 'integration' didn't pop out of the pages of a book written by a professional visionary. It didn't fall out of the mouth of a lecturer, of renown, standing at a podium. It didn't result, as I think would be obvious, from a committee meeting. It. Just. Didn't. As much as organizations and professionals may attempt, some don't, to the birth of these ideas, their claims disappear in an instant. Watch ...

Image description: a historic photograph of a family, a mother, a father, an unidentified other adult female and three children, one of whom has Down Syndrome

This family probably never thought of  'community living' they just got about with family living. Do you notice that the girl with Down Syndrome has her hand resting on her father's back? Do you notice the lack of 'distance' in this family? In that lack of distance, in that touch, in this picture, is defiance and lack of shame. They are publicly a family.

Look at another photo, from Victorian times, of another family, another act of defiant, public, love.

Image description: A Victorian family, in clothing of the day, a mother, father, and two daughters. One of the daughters looks tiny sitting in a large wheelchair.

Forgive me, my lovely two footed readers I don't mean to offend, but I wonder if non-disabled people would understand this picture in the way disabled people might. When Joe walks down the street with me with his hand resting on the back of my wheelchair, it's an act of real intimacy. When friends sit and talk with me and, unconsciously, rest their hand on the hand grip for my wheel, I feel incredibly close to them. The touching of my wheelchair is an indication of closeness, even love, and complete acceptance. Each person in the picture is touching the girl's wheelchair, she is touched too, by each of the three standing around her. She as a disabled child is fully embraced. the wheelchair not hidden away, the picture not taken with her balanced on a kitchen chair, she is there publicly, proudly, part of a family. A family living in the community with their child.

Pride, 'disability pride' isn't new either.

Image description: A little girl, nicely dressed, sitting in a wheelchair, looking directly at the camera.

Do you see how this child looks out at the world, a world where she feels loved. Realize who's paying for this picture, realize who decided that they wanted a picture for an album, a family album, and who took their child to a photographic studio. Realize how they must have searched for a place to take her, there were no laws about accessibility, the word accessibility probably didn't even exist then. Behind this picture is deep profound love. Behind that gaze is strength, and that strength may just come from the people standing behind the photographer, her parents.

And, of course, people with disabilities are more than children, loved, and the recipients of family care. We also have families ...

Image description: A family photo from the 1950's of a family, a mom, a dad, and three small children. The baby sits in her father's lap, a lap formed because he's sitting in his wheelchair.

Families come in all shapes and all sizes and move in a variety of different ways. People with disabilities did not spring into existence with legislation that promoted or required access. People with disabilities have always been and have forged their life, legislation or no.  This man, with this family, probably did more for the cause of 'community living' than any slogan, any poster, any 'inspirational' advertisement. This is a family who simply ARE, when families like this were not supposed to BE.

Family Day.

A day to celebrate families.

All kinds of families.

Families of blood.

Families of bond.

Families of belonging.

I celebrate all who have lived, courageously.

I celebrate all who live, courageously.

I celebrate, especially, parents and partners, who love, anyway.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Picture From The Box

Image description: Dave and Joe standing beside each other, August 1997

The box arrived in the mail. It came unexpectedly only because I had forgotten that my parents, several months before, had said that they were going to be sending a bunch of stuff our way. They were downsizing and wanted me to have a chance at looking at some of the photos and bric-a-brac that they had collected over the years. Browsing through, I picked up a book and this photograph fell out of it.

It was an emotional kick in the teeth.

I still can't look at the picture without feeling incredible pain.

Bone. Deep. Pain.

Soul. Bruising. Pain.

I put it back in the box, never wanting to see it again. But, one day when the girls were visiting, they pulled the picture out and were fascinated by it. They were particularly taken by the fact that I wasn't in a wheelchair. In fact, particularly for Ruby, it seemed wrong. I laughed with them as they looked at the picture. They are too young to understand what they are seeing. They are too young to understand what this picture represents. Boundaries are the most important skill that a child needs to learn to grow into any hope of safety, and for them to learn it, we have to practice it. I said nothing of what the picture meant to me and why, when they were done, I asked them to put it back in the box, not on the mantle where they thought it should go.

That picture was taken in 1997, by then Joe and I had been a couple for 28 years. We had gone through University together, we'd established a home, we'd developed hopes and plans for our life together. But. It was 1997. It was a different time in 1997. We were surrounded by silence and our life was spoken of in whispers and suppositions and ignorance. We loved each other, dearly and passionately, behind closed doors, at home we existed without distance.

Behind gay walls, be it bar, or restaurant, or club, we were welcome.

But no where else.

We were determined that we would be a couple so I attended Joe's family events, he attended mine. On his turf I was the one who didn't fit - wasn't easily explained. On mine, he was the one who was, in language at least, ripped from me. We were friends. We were room mates. We were the whispers.

I look at that picture and I do not see a couple in love with each other. I see two men standing, stiffly and uncomfortably, as if one or the other was posing with a cousin briefly met and little liked. I see two men with a studied distance between them, a well practiced distance, a distance that kept them safe. I see a fat man with his hands behind his back to stop him from reaching out to put his arm around the other man. I see a mustached man only very slightly leaning, as if pulled by the moon, towards the other.

I see restraint, so well oiled that it doesn't show.

I see the space between.

That morning I would have gotten up, untangling myself from Joe's arms. How do I know this all these years later? Because I got up this morning and untangled myself from Joe's arms. It's how I've gotten up for over 45 years. That morning we would have chatted and laughed and gossiped and planned for the day. Then we would leave the door of the motel, first one, then the other, then the distance between.

I choose today, to show this picture to you. I want you to be able to look at it and see what I see. Oppression. Repression. And Distance. In the shade between my shoulder and Joe's arm, see the face of silence.



Fucking Fairy!!

That's what they called us. We always left gay identified places with the utmost caution. Until our footfalls were far enough away to make us anonymous again, there was danger. Gay bashing, they called it, but it was simply violence. And even drunk, pissed out of our mind, we walked home, together, separately, never touching. We knew that the dark could easily hide hatred.




That's how employers saw us. I did, on two or three occasions, bring a female friend to a work party. But I stopped that. I couldn't do it. I couldn't. So, I started bringing Joe. And again, the whispers. And the threat of unemployment. We kept it all at bay.


By that fucking distance.

By that stance of indifference.

By that bit of shade that hides the face of silence.

"I don't understand why gay people have to shove it in my face."

"I don't understand why gay people can't just shut up about it."

"I don't understand why gay people need to have special rights, you know, like marriage."

This from a people who shove heterosexuality into every conversation, words like 'husband' and 'wife' and 'children' reserved only for them. This from a people who want their relationship acknowedged at all times, who wear rings to show attachment, so that their heterosexual status is acknowledged even when not spoken. This from people who invented a holiday for public acts of love that has never known ...




Ah, but that's not quite true is it?

There are others whose love required distance. Whose love couldn't be so easily masked. Remember inter-racial marriages and the need of many to stamp out this awful immoral evil. What about people with disabilities in general and people with intellectual disabilities in particular? The idea of love revolts you because in your mind you've neutered our bodies and paid taxes to imprison our bodies.

So this day.

This Valentine's Day. It's creation was by the priveleged few who determined that in their love was beauty, in their relationships was purity, in their hearts God lived.

It's not for us.

Valentine's, Joe and I don't celebrate the day, it passes without notice in our house. Because our house is where we've hidden 46 years of loving. 46 years of being family. 46 years of being able to sleep tangled.

Home, where there is no shadow, no distance and no silence.

See, really see the picture below, see what freedom looks like ...

Photo Image: Dave and Joe leaning into each other, Joe's head on Dave's shoulder, Dave's head resting on Joe.

For those of who who are celebrating Valentine's, I wish you a happy day, I truly do.

For those of us who are celebrating the end of distance and silence and shame, we join with you in your revelry.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Image description: In typewriter font, and in capital letters the statement, "THE WORLD IS MINE"
I didn't notice, at first, how distressed she was. I had tried to get into the pharmacy to do some shopping but it was impossible. There were a lot of people there, standing in line for the cashier, who just plain refused to let me pass. They glared at me and even though I made it clear I wanted through the line not into the line, no one moved. Territory had been staked. The faint smell of urine was in the air, or perhaps I just imagined it. We were planning on coming back to the mall when we went to the movie on Saturday, so I just left knowing it wouldn't be as crowded then.

I then decided to head over to the post office, which was our next stop, to meet Joe there. I saw a woman sitting on the seat of her rollator up against the wall a few feet down from the drug store. As I approached her I made a gentle turn round her. My thoughts were back on the people in the store and I was working to erase their rudeness from my mind, I didn't want it to take up any part of my day, even in memory, so I didn't really notice her.

As I passed by, she spoke to me, "Was that hard?" I stopped, turned to her, and said, "Pardon?" She asked again, "Was that hard?" I was a bit lost so I said, "Was what hard?" It was then I really noticed that she was upset, near tears. She said, "Going around me like that, was that hard?" I said trying to put a real gentleness into my voice because I know what it's like to feel in the way, "No, of course not."

She shook her head and tried to surreptitiously brush the tears, not yet fallen, from her eyes. "Well, then, why the fuck, can't they get by me, or let me through? I've never felt hemmed in when I'm surrounded by people in wheelchairs or walkers, I've never felt that I couldn't easily get by. But with them," she said the word with real venom, "I feel constantly like I'm taking up their space and that I'm allowed no space of my own."

We talked a bit. Shared stories. And as nearly always happens when two disabled people talk about experiences, laughter came. We were like a tiny island of disability, where our voices mattered and our experiences counted and our space was unquestionably our own. She thanked me for stopping. I thanked her for asking me too. I was a little angry about how I'd been treated and I was simply brushing it away. I didn't need or want anger in my day. But it was gone too.

I said that I was going to try shopping there tomorrow when it was less busy. She said that she was going back in now, because she said, "it's mine too."

Friday, February 12, 2016

He Died Free

It's always a shock, isn't it?

No matter how much you time you spend preparing, you can't.

Death comes, always, to the unprepared.

He was a man that I worked with many years ago. I came to know him and his family well, his staff, ever changing over the years, always knew of our continuing connection. The Internet brought us even closer and he would send me short emails every now and then, often with pictures attached. He was always a very private man, and I want to honour that here. As much as I would like to write a memorial, I will not.

But there is something I do want to say.

He died free.

After a lifetime in an institution, living as a captive. Walking the land of the long corridor and the short leash, he lived dreaming of a home of his own. Not a shared home. Not a family home. A home of his own, where everything he touched was his, where people left him alone and where he determined who came through the door. It was a dream he thought impossible.

But it wasn't.

He died free.

His disability disallowed others from hearing him, hearing his voice, hearing his persistent plea for a place of his own and freedom to live there.

His disability disenabled others from understanding that his primary right was to have the dream he wanted to dream - that they did not have the right to smash his dream into measurable, achievable, meaningless objectives.

His disability discouraged them from moving ahead with courage and conviction, allowing him to lead the way.

His disability displaced their understanding that his humanity meant that his voice was equal to theirs and his choice needed to be respected.

So it was a journey.

A journey past those of us who provided service that wasn't service and support that wasn't support. A journey of teaching people what their job is and, more importantly, what their job isn't. A journey that enlightened others who'd not had the experience of being pushed aside by the sheer force of will of a man determined to have home and freedom.

He was a quiet man.

But he lived a loud life.

And in his own home, he died, free.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hard On Purpose

Image description: The word 'HARD' in black and white block letters
This will take some describing. We were unable to get a picture because it was so freaking cold! I'd gotten out of the car and had turned my manual chair to face the door we would enter. As I mentioned in an earlier post, everything was in the wrong place. The curb cut was centred between two lovely large doors, however when the doors opened the door jamb that separated the two entrances came right down the middle. It would mean a quick push up a fairly step curb cut and then an immediate right. Why right instead of left? Well it's because the auto door open was way over on the other side of the left door and was set to open the right door. They must figure all disabled people have massively long arms, (All the better for hugging strangers who need to feel better about themselves.)

I said something to Joe that has been bouncing around in my head for a few days, "Sometimes I think they make it hard on purpose." I knew that I had heard that expression at a different time in a different place, and I knew that it was something that I had found important, had learned from.

After a while of chasing for the memory. I gave up. Memory doesn't like to be pursued, I find as I get older, it likes to show up at it's own time and pace. So, as I said, I let it go.

I saw a couple, downtown, walking together through the mall, she had Down Syndrome and he Cerebral Palsy. He drove his chair with a kind of scary, shaky skill, and she walked beside him with her hand resting lightly on the back of his chair. A lovely intimate scene.

And I remembered.

It was many years ago, I had been called to consult on a situation where a man and a woman had been separated by their support team because they were concerned that, as they had a disability, they were unable to consent to sexual behaviour. That they each lived, on their own, with minimal support didn't play into their figuring at all. To prove their point, one of the staff had developed a sexual consent test and both of them had failed. But, good for them, their persistence paid off and I was called in.

After meeting with both of them in turn, I felt it odd that someone would think they were non-consenting or that they weren't able to consent. They were very capable people and, in chatting with me, knowing it was about sexuality and relationships, they both seemed determined to prove to me that they knew what was what and what went where. They both said, with great emphasis that the test they took was unfair. The agency was really loathe to share the test with me but I insisted, couldn't do a report without it you know, and I was shocked when I saw it.

It was handed to me by a secretary who popped into the room where I was meeting with both of them. I began to look at it and my face must have changed in some way because the fellow said, "They make it hard on purpose." And, they had. There were words like coitus and fellatio and zygote ... words that I have never used in any sexual context at all except in situations like this when I write the words for some purpose. Sexuality is a plain language subject if anything is. No one ever says, "Would you like me to perform fellatio before we engage in coitus?" No. One. Ever.

I took the test, translated it into plain language, this was before the plain language movement, by simply using words that were easy to understand. They passed with flying colours.

They make it hard on purpose.

Another memory.

I had just started working in the field and a woman was running a bed making program on a (not with a) woman who lived in the home. I was new so I was shadowing staff, agencies should be really careful about this approach to training, and I watched the woman undergoing bed making training quickly and efficiently make her bed. She was told that she had failed to meet criteria because the pillows weren't placed properly. I was surprised because I figure if they are at the top of the bed, they are in place. The woman being trained looked deflated.

The program had been running for a couple of years and while she could make a bed, she hadn't met criteria. I asked the staff who let me in on a secret - set the criteria really high and you can keep a program running for years. If the program succeeds you have to write another one. This way was easier.



Great training.

They make it hard on purpose.

I wonder how much of this goes on. People with disabilities being kept from sexuality or relationships or free community access or job opportunities by people who have made entrance hard on purpose.

I think back to that door. I think back to how easy it could be for me to have gotten in. Instead, Joe ran pushed the door opener then ran back and helped me up and then a quick turn to the right to get into the door before it closed on us. It could have been easy. Really easy.

But it was hard.

I'm not sure if it was on purpose.

Or if that even matters.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Image description: Angie Nethercott and I beside each other holding our awards
Last night at the banquet hall of a large hotel here in Toronto, Angie and I represented our respective agencies, Hands The Family Help Network and Vita Community Living Services as we received an award for the Direct Support Worker newsletter that we co-edit. It was nice to receive the recognition but it was even nicer to roll around and chat with people, some of whom I have known for 30 years and hadn't seen for 29. Catching up with people, seeing how they are doing and where they are now in their lives was so much fun. Neither Joe or I are highly social people but we both talked and laughed and 'made rather merry.'

So, before the awards were even handed out, we'd had a great time. Both Angie and I ate our meals with a bit of anxiety because it's not easy to get up and get an award and say something meaningful in just a couple of seconds, I freely admit that Angie managed that much better than I did. But we got the award and were able to thank our agencies that support our work on it and continue to believe in the importance of making the information freely available.

I don't often use WheelTrans for other than going to work. I don't often stay up after 8. So I was tired when it was all over, well past bedtime, and we waited in the lobby for the bus. When it pulled up we went out and were loaded on by a driver who was fast, and fun and funny. We were out of there as quick as safety allowed.

There was already someone on the bus heading off somewhere and on the way we stopped an picked up someone else who had been out for dinner with friends. Everyone was quiet on the bus, including Joe and I, all alone with our own thoughts. I was thinking about the evening and how nice it was to receive recognition for the work that we had done. On the top of the award were the words, "Making a Difference." I hope I do. I think we all hope we do.

When we arrived at home, the driver was equally quick and equally funny when getting us off the bus. Joe got off first and I followed. Once down the ramp I turned to him and said, "Thanks for doing what you do, you make my life freer." He looks startled and then said, jokingly, "We're all free, man, we're Canadians." I was on my way into the building as he said this so I just waved and continued on.

But I had meant what I said. His job does make me freer. People need to understand that though work in any kind of human service is a job, it is work, the work has a powerful meaning. In fact, his service does make me freer. WheelTrans isn't just a company, it's a company that makes a city accessible, it grants a freedom to people with disabilities that we wouldn't otherwise have.

And Canada may be Canada but there are many who are not free. Many who still live in institutions, many who, because of lack of services or support, don't have a freedom of movement, many who, in one way or another, are held captive for the crime of needing supports.

I hope he thought about it.

I hope all that do the work to free people, to make community, to create change remember that we are in one huge vast civil liberties movement. We are continually working towards a better freer society. Canada, indeed there isn't a single country in the world, that is presently free ... and no matter how loud we sing our anthems proclaiming our freedom that won't be changed.

But what he did made my life freer.

Because freedom comes in the doing.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A Visitor Comes To Ruby's School

Image description: A blackboard, surrounded by an orange border with the alphabet inscribed on it and with an apple and a pencil at the bottom right corner. On the blackboard in white letters are the words SCHOOL DAYS.
I was on the phone to her mother when Ruby arrived home from school. She called out, "Is that Dave and Joe?" Her mother told her that it was and, I think, was just as curious as to why Ruby was so excited. A call from us isn't uncommon but her excitement over it was. She came rushing on the phone.

She started, "I told my teacher about your blog!" she said, and then stopped herself. We've been playing this game for quite a while now, as I am a story teller, and the girls like hearing 'Ruby' stories, or 'Sadie' stories ... I want them to tell me stories too. So without even prompting, Ruby took a pause and told me a story.

"At school today we had a visit from a boy and his mom. He had a disability and he talked to us about what happened to him. He had something happen to his brain and he was in a coma for a long time. Now he has some tubes and he told us about how the tubes have to be changed really fast when he goes to bed. His mother was there too and she showed us how some of the things worked. He was really nice and it was fun to listen to him. When it was over, I told my teacher that you had a blog and that you write about being in a wheelchair. I told her that she should check out your blog and that she can even watch you get married. She said that she would read your blog."

So, in the happenstance that you are visiting to read my blog, welcome Ruby's teacher.

Ruby and I talked a bit more with Sadie filling in from the background. She was really glad that they had had a visitor come to the school and to talk about disability. I remembered back to Ruby's first day of school, when she went to Junior Kindergarten. I asked her that day if there were any kids in her class who used wheelchairs. She sighed a deep sigh and said with great disappointment, "No they all just walk." Ruby likes and welcomes diversity and notices it's lack.

It was a fun phone call, I was pleased and proud that she wanted the teacher to read my blog and that she recognized that the young boy in her classroom, talking for himself about his disability and me here writing this blog about my disability are members of the same community. That she sees the community and sees the connection pleases me no end. So many refuse to acknowledge the community, the kinship and the connection between disabled people - even many with disabilities, that her immediate, without question, ability to see how what that boy did there and what I do here are connected.

We rung off with Ruby's excitement in my ear.

Congratulations to the school for creating this opportunity for their students and for their visitor. Congratulations to the boy's mom and if I may speak to you for a second let me tell you why ... because Ruby spoke of you and your voice too but primarily she spoke of your son and how he represented himself, that is remarkable parenting.

Change comes.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Over Easy

Image description: A yellow ball with the words 'over easy' the over is written upside down and placed atop the word easy.

On Friday, my mind was full of concerns and questions and worries. Joe and I were driving off to the hotel where we would stay the night before the Saturday presentation to parents. We didn't chat much, which is unusual for us, we rode quietly together. I had told Joe that I was tired, and, at the time, thought that I was telling the truth, I was, indeed tired. But the real truth for my silence is that my mind was fiddling with worries and toying with questions and attempting to find ways through concerns. I may have looked like a man relaxed into a car seat going for a ride, but I wasn't. I was highly active.

When we turned the corner and first saw the hotel, I also noticed a small outlet store about a block away. Joe pulled in to place and said that he'd get my wheelchair out, I asked him if he could just take the luggage to the room and then we'd go back to the outlet store. Joe isn't a shopper, it's not something he enjoys like I do, I could see that he was tired and he didn't want to go but he sighed, he won't admit to that, and said that he'd be back as quick as he could.

Next we parked at the outlet store and laughed at the accessible entrance. They had everything they should have; a cut curb, wide doors, an electronic opener, but they were all in the wrong places. It would be impossible for someone, even in a power chair, to easily make it in, but between the two of us we got in the mall. I started shopping immediately. Joe wandered along with me, and like many husbands, would often sit on a bench in the mall while I was in a store looking at stuff.

We were there just shy of an hour, I picked up a couple of things, got Joe and new shirt for a big event on Tuesday, and we made our way back into the car, over to the hotel and into the room. Once there, I thanked Joe for the trip, and then, I told him that I just needed to be distracted from what was going on in my head. I explained a bit and as I did Joe got this strange look on his face.

He said, "If you ever need to go do something just to distract yourself from stuff like this, just tell me. I didn't want to go and I know that I let you know that I didn't want to go, but that's because  I didn't know it was what you needed. Next time, just tell me."

I agreed.

It is so easy to just stop talking, stop communicating, isn't it? It's so easy to have resentment build where it need not even lay a brick. It's just so easy, years into a relationship, to assume that someone knows what you need.

It is so easy to just stop talking.

It is so easy to just stop communicating.

It is so easy to just assume your needs are understood.

I realized if I don't get over easy, life could become really hard.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Hello Saturday! It's Meaning Time

Image Description: Test Reading GOOD MORNING Saturday, with flowers and sunshine and bees flying about.
It's Saturday morning and I'm up and nearly ready to head out and do my first presentation of the year. Today it is to a group of parents and I have to say I'm wildly excited about it. I enjoy presenting to parents, especially ones who get up on a Saturday morning and drive somewhere to hear some guy they probably haven't ever heard about, talk about sexuality and abuse prevention. I am prepared and hoping for a lively discussion and maybe even a little bit of friendly debate.

It's been some while since my last lecture, which was in early December, and I've enjoyed the down time at home. In fact it was a bit of a shock rolling into a hotel room last night. It was a 'oh, yeah, this is what I do!' As January is typically a really slow time of year for lectures and training, it's a welcome break from life on the road. Now I've done a few webinars, but I can do them from home, in my housecoat if I want, I don't but I could. I'm still mistrustful of technology and am sure that I can be seen.

As Joe and I settled into the routine we began talking of the places we will go this year, the people we will meet, and what new adaptions we may need to make to our life together on the road. It was a pleasant conversation and we're both looking forward to travelling the breadth of both Canada and the United States.

But, this is the start of a new year.

And I'm feeling blessed to be able to do this work.

I met with a professional, much younger than myself, much smarter than myself, who is mid career and we spoke about what we both do. He said that he's got to a point that he now wants to think about his career in terms of resume but instead in terms of impact. He wants his work to have real meaning. I understand that goal entirely.

I think we all do.

And for me, meaning, right now, is going out on a Saturday morning to talk to parents about their adult children with disabilities.

How cool is that?

Friday, February 05, 2016

A Radical Kiss

(Note: there is no voice over, the only sound is that of a guitar playing gently)

This morning I was on one of the two gay news sites that I visit every day. Both of them were lauding, and rightly so, Hallmark for producing a 'kiss' ad featuring a gay couple. I clicked on to watch the video. I didn't realize how short the ad was and before I knew it the next 'kiss' ad was playing.

I was thunderstruck.

This kiss was radical. Perhaps even more radical than the one with the two men. It features a fat man with the woman who loves him. It's gentle, powerful and holds, for me at least, great meaning.

I'm not used to seeing people who look at all like me on screen. If fat people do appear on television or movies, we are usually the butt of the joke, or a gluttonous villain, or the source of slapstick. But this, this was romantic.


Like he's worthy of love.

Like he's, and I can't type this without tears running down my face, beautiful.

Sorry ... that's all I can write today.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Zig Had Already been Zagged

Image description: a set of stairs, viewed behind a tree, that has a wheelchair ramp zig zagging through them.

When we were in Vancouver, out for a walk, many, many, years ago, we came across the Law Courts building  and it was there that I first saw what I thought to be then, the coolest set of stairs I'd ever seen, back in the very early 80's. Notice I said that I thought they were the coolest stairs, I was walking then, so I saw them as stairs with a ramp, I now see them as a ramp with stairs. Life changes vocabulary some times. I was impressed then, as I am now, with the seer beauty and the audacious brilliance of the 'stairs'. Even then, I was in the disability world as I worked with people who had both physical and intellectual disabilities. It amazed me.

Recently I have been seeing similar pictures on social media like the one below, also a ramp cut through stairs:

stairs with built in ramps for wheelchairs. Genius:
People are, rightfully, commenting on how clever this is. It is clever now, it was clever 36 years ago. Yes, 36 years ago. While I am pleased that people are seeing this image and realizing, again, that it's possible to be functional, accessible and beautiful. But it's important to recognize that, even though it is beautiful, the concept is not new. It's a concept that just simply isn't much used.

The ability to do this has been there for a long time.

The will to do it has not.

I drove buy a brand new building, here in Toronto, that has shopfronts on the bottom level. Not only could they have been built to have been easily accessible, some of them have been. Others have a step with an awkward narrow ramp that would be nearly impossible to use.

The choice was there.

For some reason the builder, or the builder's client chose not to take it.

So, it's the will not the way that keeps people with disabilities out.

Never forget that.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

What I Am, What I Am Not

Image Description: The words 'I am OTHER' on a black background, the letters in the word 'other' are all of different colours.
Being Other:

I can be angry without being bitter.

I can be dissatisfied without being ungrateful.

I can be plainspoken without being rude.

I can be difficult without being unreasonable.

I can be tearful without being 'emotional.'

I can be frank without being disrespectful.

I am a person with a disability who lives in a world that disrepect difference.

I am a person with a disability who faces barriers, daily, to full participation.

I am a person with a disability who experiences prejudice in an uncountable number of ways.

I am a person with a disability who is expected to be an inspiration through a smiling face and a silenced voice.

I am a person with a disability whose existence is turned into a negative metaphor ... a blind eye, a deaf ear, a crippled economy, a moronic decision, a limp effort, a crazy dance.

I am a person with a disability who's body has been outlawed and who's freedom is never secure.

To make community, I must be angry at injustice.

To keep community, I must express dissatisfaction at lack of options.

To ensure community, I must be plainspoken about my needs.

To continue community, I must be difficult and steadfast in my demands.

To communicate community, I must be tearful in expressing my passon when my very life is devalued.

To mold community, I must be frank and honest about prejudice.

I am Disabled. Say The Word.

But I am not a greedy grasping, bitter, ungrateful, rude, unreasonable, emotional and disrespectful cripple.

I am not that.

What I am ...

... is an advocate for my life, for my community and for the community.

And your adjectives are not enough to counter my verbs.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Permission Slip

Image Description: the words 'PERMISSION SLIP' written on a beige background

It's so easy for me to get lazy.

The handles at the back of my chair practically scream, "help the helpless!"

I noticed a little while ago, which should have sparked immediate change but that's not how it works with me, that I've been giving in to the temptation to be pushed rather than to push myself. In the morning, on the way to work, the hallway trek to the elevator seems like such a long push, oddly the same hallway, on the way back from work, seems longer. And it's carpeted. And I'm tired. And, let's not forget, I've got these amazing handles behind me.

So, slowly, over time.

I've been pushed up and down those hallways more and more.

And it's not just those hallways.

Like I said, I noticed a while ago, but noticing doesn't always lead to action. It lead to me thinking, "How interesting. I should blog about that."

But I didn't blog about it.

Or do anything else.

Until Sunday, I was using my power chair and I had to reach out and lift something. It was something that I have carried for a long time, but I realized that it's heavy. Really heavy. I hadn't ever thought of it as heavy before. Then, wham, I realized that my arms simply don't have to power that they had when I was determined to push myself in my own chair. My arms were losing power and strength.

That was it.

I'm pushing myself again.

It's only been a couple of days. But I am firm in my conviction. I have always said, about others touching my chair, that those handles aren't permission.

Well, they aren't permission for me either.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Right, Right Now

Image description: A multicoloured disc with the words RIGHT NOW written in white
"Dave, you look different," Ruby said, holding a picture of Joe and I, taken back when we were in our early thirties. I glanced over at the picture, we were standing side by side looking uncomfortably at the camera. There were a number of differences I could see there so wasn't sure which one Ruby was referring to, so, I asked. Ruby, uncomfortable, said, "You don't have a wheelchair."

Now Ruby has only known me as a wheelchair user, she has only known me as someone who rolls my way around the world. I wasn't sure how to answer, so I just said, "I didn't need a wheelchair back then."

"Oh," she said. She looked at it for a little longer, "it doesn't look right," and then she put it down and went on about her business.

Ruby clearly sees me as 'right, now.'

I just love how Ruby and Sadie are just habituated to being around wheelchairs and people with wheelchairs. I love how their world now includes checking for accessibility, as I'm told they often do, "Dave wouldn't be able to get in here mom, that's not fair," even when I'm not there.

This is what inclusion, welcome or whatever you want to call it is supposed to do. It's supposed to teach kids that it can be 'right' to be in a wheelchair. That there isn't something wrong with you, something wrong with how you exist in the world, something wrong that needs to be fixed.

Being seen as 'right, right now,' is something I don't experience a lot.

So it felt good.

Shortly after we went out to celebrate my birthday, which is actually on the winter solstice, as a 'planned or be belated' event. I opened a couple of present but I'd already got the big one!