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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Parking Spaces and Other Disasters


Years ago, I had a friend (now deceased) who had MS and was in a wheelchair. In spite of this, she got her degree, taught school, changed her own tires and generally amazed me. Once, we pulled into a restaurant next to someone who took the last disabled spot. In a sports car no less, got out laughing (not at us) with his friend and walked without a problem, inside. I was angry beyond words, and wanted to say something to him. She said forget it, it’s not worth it. And she meant it. She just didn’t care. When I got out of the car, I noticed that the spot he was in was just next to the disabled spot we were in, but was not a disabled spot after all. I felt like an idiot. She laughed.


I share this because I have a disabled plaque now due to being unsteady on my feet.  I should really be using the walker that sits in the corner of my room with clothes draped over it. But I’m needlessly too proud. I tell myself it’s too much work getting it in and out of my trunk. I seldom go anywhere anyway except the grocery store, and their shopping carts are fine. But every once in a while, I get “the look” from people who think they know me and because I look “fine” I must be taking advantage of those who REALLY need that placard. What I’d like to say to them is this:


First and foremost, I have a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis (NF). It’s a complicated, many layered disorder that wreaks havoc on the host body, in this case, me. I have inoperable spinal tumors that leaves me in pain that you personally would not be able to withstand for five seconds, but I’ve grown accustomed to it.  And my other health problems, some related to NF, some not, are too many to list.


 These are the things I sometimes want to say. But I say none of these things. There are times I want to teach “them” a lesson by spewing out all the above. (It's funny because when someone realizes they made a mistake they say "Sorry I didn't know" which is of course, the point)  But it isn’t worth getting worked up about them. Because I don’t know them….just like they don’t know me. I have no idea what they are up against either. I just need to remind myself of that, when I find myself boiling over from looks which I have interpreted as personal. But it can’t be personal if they don’t know me. And that is what my friend Staci knew all those years ago.


G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. And all that!






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