Monday, August 06, 2007

COURAGE

Ok, PP is all for the Y’s Values.

Respect.
Honesty.
Caring.
Responsibility.

And hell, she’s all about being sensitive to those who are Differently-Abled. Can’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to walk. Or see. Or hear. Or eat. Or whatever it is that’s ‘different.’

But. And this is something that’s always confused her.
When a D-A person is about ready to kill herself cuz everyone’s afraid to offer help. Is this really what respect for their Independence is all about?

Again, confusion reigns here surrounding this philosophy, but in this particular instance, PP had to say something. No one else was going to. Or for some reason, she was the designated Leader. Why the hell was that?

That’s also a weird thing. Why is it that one person in a group is the seen as the leader? But hell, that’s another blog.

This one is about the political incorrectness of offering to help a paralyzed 110-year-old tiny African American grandma outta her wheelchair and into the hot tub. (PP doesn’t know why she assumes she’s a grandma. Maybe she’s just thinking of grandmas today since it’s hers birthday—94! Happy Birthday, Gram!)

Let’s start at the beginning.
PP’s had survived an exhausting swim. They’ve all been so lately. It’s the summer rush pandemonium plus the wrong leaking mask and her sore neck. But on this particular Sunday, August 5th, she did manage to surmount all these obstacles and get her 2200 yards in.

So now, in the hot tub, she’s beat. Barely coherent. Close to heaterzied comatose. And so…..when she opens her eyes to behold Gram in her wheelchair, she’s hardly paying attention. Besides, there are lots of Y patrons in wheelchairs. And PP is always in AWE of them. How the hell do they do it? The one legged man swimming his 10 laps. The beautiful Chinese woman with dead legs wrapped in weird blue floatees swimming for an hour.

And now. Gram is trying to unhook her electric wheelchair from a pair of black flip-flops on the side of the hot tub. The other two women in the hot tub look pointedly away even though the flip-flops must belong to one of them. Of course, Gram can’t reach down to the floor and move them, so PP hops across the tub and moves them outta her way.

Gram cranks her chair forward relieved of its obstacle. PP goes back to her corner and watches in concern as Gram starts to painfully lift herself out of the now parked chair. Her legs completely immobile, so horribly swollen. They probably haven’t moved themselves in decades.

It was so worrisome. PP watched as Gram reached for the guardrail to the tub and barely managed to grab hold. And then to heave herself out of the chair, slowly, slowly, and drag her slight body into the tub, her dead weight legs dragging perilously on the wet slippery tiles surrounding the tub.
Damn.
Shouldn’t she have someone to help her?
PP glances over at the pretty Asian woman who’s eyeing the scary scene with wide fear. She’s thinking the same thing, but looking at PP to do something.
PP shakes her head slowly. What can she do? She glances over at the other woman in the tub, a middle aged white lady in navy Speedo who stares into space, ignoring the whole drama.
How can that be?
Some people.
But as Gram inches across the wet tiles and Pretty Asian Woman nods at PP more emphatically, her eyes the size of chocolate donuts, PP sighs deeply. Yeah, she knows. Don’t offer to help. It’s the independence protocol surrounding Differently- Abled Persons.

Or is it? Maybe it isn’t. Maybe an offer of help is the only sane thing to do. Who cares if Gram gets huffy? It’s better than falling and cracking her skull on the wet tiles.

Then....a little slip. But Gram catches herself. Stands steady for a moment on the first step into the tug.
PP can’t stand it anymore.
“DO you need some help?” she hops across the tub, hopefully.
Gram stares at her for a long silent moment.
“No.”
PP heard that tone. The one that says, you stupid walking person, I can do it myself. I don’t need anyone’s help. Esp. yours.

And she was right. She did make it into the tub. Sinking thankfully onto the underwater bench to face the whirling jets.

Sighing in relief, PP inches around her. Not saying anything else. To Gram. To the pretty wide-eyed Asian woman, who now, also looks visibly relieved.

But PP wonders. What if Gram had slipped? And she hadn’t offered to help?
Wouldn’t she have felt just awful? Isn't it better to step on someone’s toes, figuratively speaking of course, rather than watch in fear as the D-A person falls and cracks her head open?

PP thinks it is better to offer the help. No matter what. And if someone snarls at her. Or declines her help with pride and coldness?
Hell, that’s ok.
At least she knows she tried.
And isn’t that what the Y is all about?

RESPONSIBITY.
HONESTY
CARING.
AND YES, RESPECT.

Cuz without this last one, the other 3 are moot.
At least as far as PP is concerned.
And one tough old courageous 110-year-old Gram!

1 comment:

poetowen said...

Great couple of entries. These should be collected for a book!