It happened again recently.
“Again” as in too many times to remember through the years.
I was strolling into one of my favorite breakfast hangouts and passed by a woman who was waiting for her take-out order. I smiled and offered a cheery good morning greeting and she decided to take that as an invite for conversation. Lady, I may be a morning person, but I do like my morning’s alone.
Here went the gist of the conversation:
“I was in a wheelchair once,” she proffered without solicitation.
The hidden eyeballs inside my mind started to roll big time.
“Oh? Is that right?” I replied, feigning amazement.
“Yes. It was the worst three years of my life.”
At least it wasn’t two weeks or four months, as I am accustomed to hearing. Or an afternoon (“just goofing around in Grandma’s chair”)…
But before I could recall them, the words were already coming out of my mouth and there were legislative powers within desperately trying to repeal them. But, tragically, to no avail.
I have to admit, her story was legit. And quite possibly even horrible.
“I got my foot caught in a conveyer and nearly twisted it off.” She held out a bare leg which revealed a nasty discoloration to her foot.
“Ew…that must’ve hurt!” Scott, would you just stop?
“Oh, you have no idea…”
No ma’am, I don’t guess I would.
She rose from the bench she was seated on and I inched away, hoping for closure by saying, “glad you can walk.” And truly meant it. I am not about to begrudge.
“Yeah, me too.” She gaited over to the register without so much as a limp while her order was brought to the counter. My wheelchair and I rolled into the dining room to our very own table. I am sure somewhere deep inside she wanted to know about my situation but I didn’t offer it up.
No way could I say these had been the “worst” twenty-seven years in my life. Not by a long shot.
I wouldn’t wish them on her, either. They are my gift.
I get to do this…(yes, you heard that correctly)…
…Until I’m sitting on an IHOP bench, waiting for my take out order, and I can walk up to a counter, pay, then jump into my SUV and drive away.
Even then, I don’t think I’ll say to someone on wheels:
“”I was in a wheelchair once…”