Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Only Me (Or Someone Like Me)!

Yesterday, two things happened to me that could only happen to me. First, I was waiting for the DON'T WALK Signal to change so I could cross the street when the turning car stopped in THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION, honked their horn at me and motioned for me to cross. I pointed at the signal and waved them through, because I was following the Signals and more importantly, just because he stopped doesn't mean the other cars are stopping too! He was creating a very dangerous situation! As the driver finally went by me he gave me the finger! All I can figure is that the driver was freaked out by my wheelchair. Since he flipped me off, I am not going to give the possibility he was just trying to be nice much consideration. A tip for driver's out there...people who use wheelchairs can handle crossing a street!

Situation 2: On the way home from my walk a car pulled over, the driver got out, ran up to me and asked me if I needed help. I waved her off and kept going. I know I am not as fast as I was in my racing days, But come on. I wonder if non wheelchair users out for a walk on a beautiful day, ever have drivers pull over and ask them if they need help?A friend of mine had a great comeback for me to use the next time this happens. She said to say, "My Mom told me not to talk to strangers!"

I think both of these situations come from something called "spread of disability". The idea that if a person has one disability, they must have other things wrong with them too. Both of these people assumed that since I used a wheelchair I couldn't handle a simple everyday task like walking home or crossing a street. I am closing in on 50 and have been dealing with incidents like this my whole life. I just hope that in the near future, other people who use wheelchairs won't need to anymore!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The End of the World...Ok, Maybe Not!

Happy No Rapture Day!!!!
As far as I can tell, the world did not end yesterday. Harold Camping was wrong again. That makes him 0 for 2 the sport of Apocalypse predicting. Hardly Hall of Fame numbers. Seriously, I am glad he was wrong, but it does make me wonder why people are so enamored by End of the World prophets like this crazy old loon. Are they all just crazy like him? Are their lives so hopeless that this is only thing they can find that gives them purpose? Or is it something else?

Whatever the reason, I hope his followers can regroup and use their energies to make the world we have a better place for all. Maybe this day can be used to encourage everyone to remember what a precious thing life is and that we should use our time and energy to make a positive impact on those around us! I know this is a little "touchy, feely" for some, but hey, the end of the World only comes once. We just don't know when.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

As I sit here at my local Starbucks, sipping on my Iced Mocha and downing a Sausage and Egg Sandwich, I am wishing I could be with my 91 year old mother on this special day. I am not a fan of most of the "Day's" we celebrate in America. Most of them (Boss's, Secretary's, Sweetest, etc.) are just excuses for Corporate America to make more money. Mother's are the one group of people who truly deserve special recognition.

I have written about my Mother before, but as she gets older and her memory fades, I find myself reminiscing about our life and the life lessons she taught me without even trying. Both Mom and Dad treated me just like my Brothers and Sisters. Even though I was disabled, I was held to the same expectations as anyone else. This was most evident in my education. My Mother fought many battles with the Appleton Public School District and others in order to assure that I (and other students with disabilities) would have equal access to a quality education. We tend to take many things for granted in this world and assume that things have always been the way they are. When we do that, we forget the Trailblazers that fought the battles that helped change the Status Quo. I am proud to say my Mother was one of those Trailblazers.

One memorable example happened during my Junior year in High School. I was selected by my School to represent them at Badger Boy's State, a leadership experience sponsored by the American Legion. Soon after I was nominated, we were informed that I would not be allowed to participate because the facilities at Ripon College were not wheelchair accessible. My Mother was dumbfounded that an activity sponsored by an organization that represented many people with disabilities would not accept people with disabilities. That idea seems like common sense today, but at the time many people thought my Mom was being unreasonable by fighting the "Powers that be." She eventually won the fight and I was allowed to participate. It was a wonderful experience and I still use much of what I learned there. I also received many accolades for being the first wheelchair user to attend, but none of it would have been possible without the behind the scene efforts of my Mom!

So, on this special day set aside to honor Mother's everywhere, take a moment to remember the things your Mother has done to help shape the person you are today, and if you are a Mother remember, sometimes it's the unseen things that have the biggest effect on your children.