The Gift That Keeps On Giving... Thanks Mom!
Current mood: grateful
Current mood: grateful
My original post was lost in cyberspace along with some older Blogs. This is a re-post
This was a letter I sent to a young woman with Arthrogryposis in response to a question about how I felt about growing up and living with a disability.
It took me many years and a lot of hard work to understand I was not alone. Since I was born in the 50's life tended to be isolating... I was the only "handicapped" kid in my classes until high school.
I will share with you what is now termed an "Aha Moment" in my life, which paved the way for a "Take Life By The Horns" attitude which is still with me today.
When I was 5 yrs old we lived in military housing in Germany. At this time I had a 3" difference in leg lengths and wore the old metal braces on both legs, both hands and feet were severely clubbed. I refer to these times as my, "Iron Maiden Days."
Mom would let me play in the front yard, while she did her magic on her sewing machine..she loved making me beautiful dresses, always with one eye on me through the big picture window in the front room.
On this sunny day, I had been playing with the neighborhood kids, when one particular boy a few years older than me, referred to me in a term I had never heard, nor knew the meaning of.
However, I did know right off the bat, that this tone, and body language which accompanied the word were usually not used with terms of endearment.
In my determined way, I ran in the house.. well.. waddled in, and with a loud voice and a very stern look on my angelic face asked my mom, "Mommy, am I a cripple?"
Her one word answer was straight forward and matter of fact.
It was all I needed to hear to send me back outside, with confidence and tenacity, as if I knew I was being watched over by General Patton and his entire Army.
I turned on my heels, limped back outside as though I was a soldier heading for the front line of battle. As I approached my accuser, I looked him straight in the eyes and in tandem as I raised my right arm to his body, to make sure he completely understood me, I knocked him over while uttering these words with an attitude of sheer determination and confidence, "I AM NOT A CRIPPLE!!!!"
One word, one moment in time.... Neither of us really knew that at that moment, Mom had given me the greatest gift that day.... one that I would re-open everyday, for the rest of my life.
Focusing on the good "Aha" moments of my life is something which takes practice and determination, but by doing so, I have made my Arthrogryposis an asset, one that has enriched my life far more profoundly than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.
I am sharing this with you in the hopes that you too, will find the strength to look past those stares, comments and moments of outright discrimination to know that who you are has nothing to do with other people's opinion of you.