Friday, November 26, 2010

An answered prayer

Friday, November 26, 2010 10:10 AM

We flew into Dayton last night and boy, are my arms tired! I couldn't resist. It was a late night for us and I had an early morning today. We are both tired and I am feeling a little under the weather (sick). It is probably from my poor dietary choices and not from a bug.

We left New Orleans on Monday and drove to Mobile, Alabama to visit a childhood friend of Adrienne and her husband. After a good night's sleep, followed by a long nap in the morning, we made it to their house early in the afternoon. For the next two days, they treated us like royalty, opening their home to us and chauffeuring us around Mobile.

I pushed myself on our site seeing visits, walking as much as possible. We visited a Civil War era fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay and I must have walked at least 90% of our time there,going around the perimeter and down stairs on my feet. It was fun to see the world from that height. It did take its toll on me and wear me out.

On the way out, an elderly lady approached our group and asked, “Well, did he behave himself?” The rest of the gang paused to talk with her and joke about my behavior. I rolled ahead, embarrassed at being talked about as if I were a hyperactive twelve-year-old.

When I calmed down, I realized that I had it wrong; she wasn't singleing me out because I was a special, she was trying to ingratiate herself with us in a friendly way. I remember a very social client who was mildly retarded and used a walker because he had cerebral palsy. One of the things he liked to do was approach a pair of people having an animated conversation, such as two women in the grocery store where he worked. Once in position, he would wait until the conversation reached a point where both women would begin laughing. He would laugh with them and say something like, “You just don't know...” at which point, the ladies would include him in the conversation, as if he had been there all along. Tricky bastard.

Adrienne's friend and her husband many rather personal questions about what happened to me, “What was the worst part? How many medications did I take daily ? My illness was monopolizing the conversation and I began to feel a little self-conscious. Was I the ambassador for disabled?

One of the things that Al-anon has taught me is that when other people exhibit annoying behaviors, it is often because I find the same things annoying in my self.

With that in mind, I flipped my perspective and realized that these 3 people were trying to do something I had difficulty doing; ask some one questions about their disability. Once I had a friend who was in a wheelchair and I let that chair get in between us.I never asked him why he was there or anything about his life outside of the narrow focus of our shared interests. I never did it because I was afraid to bring these subjects up. That was silly of me.

He may have welcomed sharing that part of his life with me. If not, he was capable of letting me know. This may have deepened and improved our relationship. It would have been helpful to talk to him about these things when I got sick and realized I was about to become disabled.

I sent him an email last summer, but never heard back. I hope I'll hear from again; I miss him and the things we talked about. We also might have done the other thing friends do; support each other through difficult times.

We left Mobile Thursday afternoon drove to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans for our flight home. I was once again groped by TSA; was no easier the second time. However, this time, the Air-Tran employees were very courteous, speaking only to me about myself and asking before grabbing my chair.

I left the South renewed and encouraged by the friendly people we had met. I don't think it was because I was a handicapped, but because they were genuinely good people.

I especially appreciated the hotel. The room accommodated myself and my chair nicely and the bed was comfortable. We were late leaving the motel, largely due to my exhaustion. An employee came to our room to check on us. She also took a moment to hold Adrienne's hand and prayed for our safe travel home.  She showed herself to be braver than me.

Friday, November 26, 2010 12:34 PM

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