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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Walkers

Every day they pass by, slowly and short in stride, gripping the spongy handles of their walkers. They make the circuit, up the other side of the street, round the administration building, past the "community room" building, back down this side of the street and by my windows. There is one who always stops and gapes at my windows, mouth slackjawed, oxygen tube hanging over her ears, she squints her eyes to get a look at me. I don't socialize here; I sit at my desk in the mornings. I imagine all she can see is my left arm, resting on a pull-out shelf of this old teacher's desk, hand resting on the mouse. Still, every day she stops and gawks.

They are usually alone, though sometimes a free walker will walk with one who is pushing the contraption. The free walker will adapt their steps, shorten them, so unused to such a slow pace that they occasionally falter and almost stumble. Companions are rare for the walkers. Alone with their thoughts, they push forward, gazing up now and then. The route never varies.  

13 comments:

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

About 5 years ago, I broke my foot and because I could not maneuver on crutches, I had to use a walker. I hated it and felt humilitated as I thought everyone was looking at me differently.I was thankful that I only had to use it for a couple of weeks.

Austan said...

Starting- I've been on a walker for 3 years now. It's been a lifesaver to me. If not for it, I'd be stuck in a wheelchair already.

CarrieBoo said...

My grandma is so stubborn we had to force a wheelchair on her so she could see the sights while in Canada some years back. She can hardly walk and her ankles are really weak, so you're forever fretting about her falling. I don't know why people won't use something that will make their lives easier! She drives me nuts. Anyway, I was running and pushing her down the boulevard and she was holding on to her hat with one hand, clinging on with the other and laughing her head off. She finally accepts her immobility and now she's whipping around the grocery-store on a Rascal Scooter (type thing) with great precision and thinks it's fantastic. Bloomin' 'eck.

Now that I don't care about being cool... I think if I needed a zimmer-frame, I would paint it all funky and add a horn or a bell and some other accessories.

You should wave at the old dear next time!

Austan said...

Your Gran must be a riot. Good for her!
Ha! I have 2 sets of Prayer Flags hanging off mine! It's cobalt and black. And has a Bernie Sanders sticker under the seat.

ooooo, I dunno about that, she's scary and part of The Weird Sisters...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Carrie Boo's grandmother sounds like my kinda person. And I agree with her, Austan. I think you should say hello to that lady next time. Heck, maybe you should take your walker outside and join her on that walk. (No telling what kind of interesting stories she may have to tell ...)

CarrieBoo said...

I knew yours would be exceptional. I dunno... we're all kind of weird sisters. ;) (Some weirder than others... obviously, not me.) Hahhhaaha.

annieoatcake said...

My niece is in a wheelchair. A surgeon 'accidentally' punctured her spinal chord when she was twelve years old. She's now twenty seven, has won 5 paralympic medals for swimming and just got her Masters degree in sports psychology at Edinburgh Uni...

Don't ever let a walker or wheelie get you down, Laura. What you've got up top in that ol' noggin of yours is worth a trillion, billion legs :-)

Austan said...

Annie- What's happened to your niece is terrible. We used to say, "When life gives you demons make demonade", and she's whipped up a great batch. Gods bless her.

And thanks. I'm kinda speechless at that. x

annieoatcake said...

Yes, she really is one of a kind (and I've just been told she's now 30 not 27! Where do the years go...?)

When it first happened, she was just about to enter secondary school, but my sister was told she would have to go to a school for kids with disabilities... This meant she'd have to be separated from all her friends she grew up with. My sister fought it tooth and nail and I eventually moved back home so that I could accompany her to the local school. It wasn't easy, believe me, but she managed :-)

I will always remember a painting composition she did for her standard grade art (she was also very artistic). It was a painting of a mermaid trying to untangle herself from a huge chain with a wheel at the end of it. It broke my heart. I suggested she should take up swimming as mermaids couldn't walk either but seemed to do ok in water :-) She had to do it outwith school as ALL sports were out of bounds for her (no access to the sports complex for wheelies) The rest, as they say, is history...

Austan said...

Annie- There is so much in your niece's story- I hope you'll write about it all. The painting story alone choked me up. You were there and you're a writer. Please do it!

annieoatcake said...

I'm not sure she'd appreciate me writing about it. She's ultra practical and down to earth and hates dwelling on the past. Plus, I'm kinda estranged from her mother at the moment... that's another story!

I'm glad you're felling better :-)

Austan said...

Well, shizzy. Perhaps in the future. Hope you get to mend fences. There's nothing like family... (and you can add anything in here- I usually make The Scream face and pull my hair out).

annieoatcake said...

Thanks, Laura, you make me laugh :-)