Sometimes I think that I must have the most problems of anyone in the whole land.
Maintaining order in my little nook of the world seems overwhelming at times…keeping the car going, the apartment clean, the cat food bowl full.
And then there’s all the whining I do about the hot summers here in Sacramento (you’ll see!), politics and the price of cereal and gas.
But every now and then I’m hit over the head with a thunderbolt when I see someone who has many, many more obstacles than I do, getting out and about in spite of the hurdles.
Yesterday after the 9am, not in a mood to chat, I sat sipping my cuppa Joe and people-watching. I was just resting until I could get up the energy to walk out to the car, drive home and then, sit some more.
Sitting next to me was a woman in a wheelchair…a regular at the 11:15. Now here was a person who clearly wanted to participate in life even though doing so was probably 100 times harder for her than for me.
She is confined to a wheelchair, her hands and arms bend in inconvenient ways and her neck is such that she must always view the world from a kind of sideways, upside-down angle.
I had never had occasion to speak to her before, but there she was right there, quietly sitting, sipping on a drink. She looked to be maybe the same age as myself.
I felt like a teenager trying to get up the courage to ask some gorgeous someone to dance…it was scary because I did know that when she spoke, her words were very hard to understand. But her caregiver was next to her on the other side, so hoping that she could be a “translator” if need be, I jumped in.
I introduced myself and with a little help was able to learn her name. I searched my tired brain for small talk…eventually remarking upon her clothing outfit. She was dressed all in red…matching shirt and pants…and she had little red Mary Janes on her tiny feet. I complimented her on all of that and then her care person pointed out her polished-red fingernails.
Very cool, I exclaimed, and then the woman said something that I couldn’t understand. The caregiver gently and patiently asked her to repeat what she had said and then, after the third try, she was able to translate. “I wanted to look pretty for god!” the woman had said.
And when I got home and got out of my “good clothes” to protect them from cat fur, I thought about what an effort it had taken for that woman to get ready for her morning. And she willingly made the choice to get ready and out every single Sunday.
I could just roll outta bed, throw on some clothes, drive down the street and dash inside with 5 minutes to spare. I’m certain it must’ve taken her a lot longer to get moving, even with help.
At one point during our encounter, the woman had, with what seemed like some difficulty, lifted up her head to look at me.
And in that moment, she became more than just the “woman in the wheelchair”…she became a real person, a human being, a child of god.
I looked into her eyes as she looked into mine and was amazed at what I saw.
There was god in those eyes…smiling back at me and lookin’ pretty….
©February 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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