Marty and I have been friends for a long time. He was a very good golfer until an automobile accident slowed him down. At 65, he is still active and uses the wheelchair occasionally, on what he calls bad leg days. As I watched him struggle to load his chair in the car, I recalled a conversation we had a few weeks ago. I asked him if his disability interfered with his lifestyle? He looked at me with an inquisitive stare in his eye and a warm smile on his face and asked what disability?
He said we all have limitations of one kind or another and depend on devices to help us through the day. We use elevators and escalators to carry us up the walls of tall buildings, electric tooth brushes to do the obvious, and food processors to chew our food. We have washers and dryers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and even electronic gadgets to open and close our doors. And of course, there’s the computer, And besides, he said, everyone he knows uses a wheelchair.
Marty explained that most people have physical limitations. They have to drive their wheelchairs, fully equipped with stereos, plush leather seats, huge gas engines and cell phones everywhere they go. They’re called Fords, Chevy’s and SUVs. He said he is no different than anyone else except his limitations are more visible and he just happens to use a less conventional vehicle to get around in. As I listened to his observations and optimism, I couldn’t help but think of another long-time friend, who had a completely different point of view about life.
She is gradually slowing down in her aging process. She refuses to use any kind of device that will help make her senior years easier and more enjoyable. She would rather be cloistered in her apartment and live a life of loneliness than be seen in public in, God forbid, a wheelchair. She denies herself and her family everyday pleasures of doing things together. why? Because, she is too proud to be seen in a wheelchair.
It seems the metamorphic process of aging that is gradually consuming us has infected some of us with the worst disability of all, stubborn pride. This pride should not keep us from living our lives to the fullest. We, as seniors, have nothing to be ashamed of.
Rather than becoming victims of our false pride, we should start having more fun in life and be less dependent on our friends and relatives. Maybe, we should hit the greens, cruise the malls and take a Sunday drive in our golf carts, wheelchairs and Chevrolets.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.