Monday, November 30, 2009

If Ya CAN Walk, Ya OUGHTTA walk

The blog I really wanted to write after Thanksgiving was about my cousin... we'll call her Ruthie....

It's going to be hard to disguise her, because I don't have very many cousins in wheelchairs... and that's the problem.

What? I have a problem with wheelchairs? Is this the part where I'm about to deride the disabled?

Of course not. Because she is not disabled. Sure, she's old. And she probably doesn't feel that great. But there is nothing medically wrong with her, beyond the garden-variety stuff that goes with getting older than you probably meant to. It is unfortunate, but it happens.

I am not usually so vicious, but the woman is exhausting my poor Mother (calling her every hour of the day and night "can you run here?" "can you run there?" "get me this," yammer yammer yammer). I'm sorry, but I just can't have that. My hands are full with four parents, we can NOT take in another stray to raise.

But Mom moved heaven and earth to make sure Ruthie got to Thanksgiving Dinner -- several trips and changing into a car that would accommodate the wheelchair, and so on.

After we'd all eaten, Mom disappeared with her oxygen trolley and her minions to her little Santa Shed so she could get all the stuff unloaded for her Santa Brunch-Bazaar while she had the benefit of free manpower. Everybody grumbled -- some good-naturedly, and some not-so-much (and I took notes as to which were which), but they all helped out.

No sooner had Mom disappeared than Ruthie immediately started whining that she wanted to go home. And I would've been glad to take her. But I don't know how to break down the wheelchair and open it back up. In a real emergency, I could maybe figure that sort of thing out. But this wasn't an emergency, especially since she doesn't even need a wheelchair. She can walk. She just refuses to. She is not paralyzed. Nothing is broken. She just got old and she got tired, so she sat down in that damned chair and refused to get back out of it.

And that pisses me off.

But my head didn't actually start to spin around on my neck until she asked, "do you think your stepdad would care to run me home?"

Let's see. He's in his eighth week of chemo and radiation. Most of the time he's too weak to stand, but he won't even use a cane in front of anybody. (He lost it a couple weeks ago, and I suspect it was on purpose.) He dragged himself off the sofa just long enough to sit up for Thanksgiving Dinner, and I didn't really think he was able to "run" anywhere. But this was one of those rare, rare moments when he actually heard what was being said, and before I knew it, or could stop them, they were gone.

When he got back a half hour later, Mom asked what had taken him so long. It turned out there's a little doorjam outside her building that he couldn't push the wheelchair over. He said he asked her, "could you stand up for a second so I can push this over the sill..." and she said... "Nope."

And I think that is the moment where my head exploded. I told him he shoulda left her there; tossed her a blanket; and said "Ya might need this. S'posed to snow!"

Everyone looked at me absolutely aghast. But I don't care. I meant it. And frankly, I'm already underwhelmed with the whole LOT of 'em as far as how they've stepped up when it comes to my folks (who always seem to be the ones practicing all the Christian charity, but never ending up on the receiving end of any). Yeah, yeah. I know they're all real busy praying bout The Cancer and all -- how bout ya bring my parents a bucket o' chicken once in awhile, while you're doing all that prayin'.

As for how Ruthie spends Christmas. I am more than willing to go visit her in The Home, if she will finally move into one. I am sorry, but it's what we call triage Bitch.


  1. I am not one of those kind who laughs when someone has a fall. I often cringe when I catch a brief glimpse of America's Funniest Videos, but, I couldn't look away from the screen while reading this tale. It seems awful of me to laugh when your head is exploding and I do apologize for the appearance of any insensitivity to you or your step-Dad's war with The Cancer. Your writing draws me in and whacks me over the head. I do enjoy it.

    Chabon was once quoted as saying, "There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day...." The discipline of this blog-a-day thingy seems to be offering us some of the best of you.

  2. thanks Rev, it's not insensitive at all. We always say in our family, if you can't laugh at Cancer, what CAN you laugh at?