Yesterday we stopped into the pub for a quick couple of drinks before heading home. I've written about this place before, for me it represents one of the few places of real welcome out there in the community. Real welcome happens when the place itself is structured to be wheelchair accessible and where the people who are there ensure that any blockage of a passageway because of placement of chairs or other stuff in the aisles are moved and where the locals make way at a crowded bar for a couple of others. I like going here even though we don't get there as often as I'd like.
We were chatting with two guys, one who had sprained his ankle dancing the night before and one who was talking about a twisted knee, I sat there listening and said, 'I can't wait for my turn cause I'm going to win this one without breaking a sweat.' They suddenly realized what I meant and we all laughed. When my disability is fair game for a joke, I know that I'm in a good and safe place.
Just before we left a nice fellow we've known for years, Wendy, was getting ready to leave and I saw him make his way over to a walker. We hadn't seen him for a long time and were surprised to see the walker. Wendy is one of those guys who just never seem much to age and always has had a quick wit and a friendly approach. I never realized until then that I never knew his birth name, he has been nick named Wendy for all the years and years we've known him and I can't imagine calling him something like Charles or Henry. He's neither transexual or into drag, he's just a guy called Wendy. Anyways, Wendy had a walker.
He stopped to chat, as we knew he would, and he told us the story of getting the walker after having a few severe health problems this year. He laughed as he told the story of being in a coma for three weeks and how he collapsed at a New Years party ... and he made it all quite funny. As for the walker, his transition from walking freely to walking with a walker was made with such a matter-of-factness that I was startled. No complaining or carping about now needing a mobility device, instead he saw it just as simply a means to getting out and getting on with his life.
I sat in my wheelchair, talking to him in his walker, and there was a new kind of understanding between us as we spoke about the things we use to get around. 'It's part of me now,' he said, 'and it keeps me free.'
Wendy was free before and he's free now.
That's the point of mobility devices, you know. The only point that matters. The free stay free, the captive are let go. I wish people could understand that as easily as Wendy did ... but then, maybe, in his youth, he spent time with Peter Pan.