I am writing because I have mobility challenges, and what I have experienced by the kindness and assistance provided by the daily stranger in our community. My sister and I assisted our parents in their old age, and I now cherish those memories so much. I notice other adults assisting their parents in restaurants and businesses, and it brings back fond memories and a smile of assisting our parents when they were at need.
Three years ago I began to be challenged with my own mobility issues at 55 years old, from an unknown autoimmune illness, and after years of testing it is now known as Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). I use a cane and leg braces to be mobile on flat surfaces for short distances, and when necessary a wheelchair for those long ones. I was working until January of this year and now retired, and continuing with my normal recreational activities of boating (just bought a new kayak the wife does not know about), camping, and going on trails walking my dog, where I meet mobility challenges, and strangers.
I went to Crabby Patty’s Restaurant on Valentine’s Day with my wife, and that is a day I will always remember as a one example of the compassion shown to me by strangers. I was entering the business on the handicap ramp to the front door in my wheelchair, and noticed a man rapidly approaching the door from inside the building. The stranger quickly held the door open for me as I entered the business. I know the place has outstanding food, and thought it was one of the staff helping me in as they usually do. I thanked the person for their assistance. I then noticed the stranger was a patron who was already seated on the front window area and had noticed me attempting access to the business. I was so humbled when I realized he was not an employee, and not located in the immediate area of the door. He was sitting with his sweetheart and decided to make that special act. I don’t know who his sweetheart was but I hope she gave him a good hug for me.
I feel that my challenges to mobility have been a gift, by teaching me how to handle life’s challenging issues, and displaying to my four kids and their family a positive attitude. My mobility challenges have enabled me to notice things I may have not appreciated, if I had not had these challenges. I am truly honored from my support from my wife, kids, family, friends, co-workers, and that special stranger in our community that with no second thought has the patience to wait while I tackle my mobility challenges, or when necessary, assist me when they can.
My employer recently asked “who was assigned to assist me in the event of an emergency at work, to help me get out of the building,” which is required by American Disability Act of an employer. My reply was “I do not know all of their names.” This gift by others has enabled me to not be angry and negative about my challenges, but positive and thankful for realizing my daily accomplishments, my friends, and that every day stranger that lends a hand.
P.S. I hope the wife does not find out about the kayak. I guess she may notice, when I have the kayak on the dolly, connected to the back of the electric wheelchair going down to the neighborhood boat ramp.
Larry Maddrey, Newport