July 3, 2005

The TRULY handicapped people!!

Gail is an amazing friend, and delightful to be with. Her dry wit keeps me laughing and her kind open caring ways make me deeply respect her. Having been a parapelegic since her late teens, she has totally educated me about being in a wheelchair. I have learned she prefers a kind but simple, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" It leaves the person in the chair in charge.

I went to church with Gail today. In the past, not wanting to be too judgemental or critical, we guarded our conversation about our experiences at church...today I just lost it and cut to the chase as the lady usher leaned over Gail to pass me the registration log.

"Can you sign for your friend too?" she said sweetly. I immediately pushed it back to Gail and whispered, "What an idiot! How do you stand these people and don't give it back to me, I don't want them to have my name!!" She burst into laughter and we giggled through the whole service.

When we first met, Gail often vented about experiences she had with people. "Maybe you're being hard on them", I'd tell her. "Maybe they don't know any better." "And I am supposed to educate the world?" she'd ask crypticly.

The better I knew her and we were out together, she mellowed some and I became a raving idiot! There was the man who always wheeled Gail out of the church backwards as she closed her eyes for the benediction every week. He explained he didn't want her to be caught in the rush of people exiting...hmmm more like she might be in their way!! Then there was the class we were in together, outings were being planned, a lady asked.."Can Gail eat at a restaurant?" This woman had a master's degree. Or the person who asked her to move onto the examing table 10 inches above her chair, a medical person no less. Or the unmovable crowds of people who never stepped aside as she politely asked "Excuse me please?"

I love how she moves beyond all that and always has time for the small child who asks "what's wrong with you?" Or lets a child push her chair.. She's also nice to the TRULY handicapped!!

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