Tuesday, August 01, 2017

I Never Saw Her

She didn't stand out.

I didn't even notice her. I'm a people watcher, I'm curious, and a bit nosy, and I didn't even notice her there. I didn't notice him either. They were just part of the scenery, just part of the crowd.

That meant something that mattered.

She had an intellectual disability, though her disability would be invisible to others, and she was being supported by staff in a very busy mall. She may not look like she needs much support, but she does. It may seem that going to the mall might have not have been a really big deal for her, but it was.

She looked happy.

She looked successful.

I know this because they came into my consciousness when she and her staff stopped to say hello. I saw her smile and her sense of confidence and accomplishment. I saw that she had a shopping bag and he didn't. I saw that she enjoyed being out without being "out". I saw a staff who  managed to support and not diminish, to provide help without self aggrandizement, to be there for when she needed without being there and 'performing staff.'

She didn't stand out.

After we all talked and it was time for them to go. She turned and led the way. She did it like she didn't expect to be called back, she didn't expect to be corrected, she didn't expect that her leadership to be challenged. He quickly caught up to her and then they were gone.

She didn't stand out.

But he did. Not to anyone at the mall but as a role model to every staff who goes out, every staff who supports someone in the community, to every staff wanting to know what excellence looks like.

The hierarchy so often on display when we are in public with those we serve, or those we parent, can be the first finger to point difference and disability and diminished.  The hierarchy, well managed, can demonstrate, respect and value and worth.

She didn't stand out.

His power didn't stand out.

She led because she knew, that the support she needed, would follow.


ABEhrhardt said...

What a lovely image.

I wonder how you get an institution or a carer to that point, when you start from the old model?

Unknown said...

A moment of grace at the mall.