Disability and me

Amanda - Watertown, Wisconsin
Entered on April 23, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: disability
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I believe that disability is not a crutch, it is a capstone. My mother was born with cerebral palsy. She is unable to use her legs the way most normal people do. She is also my inspiration for my belief. As a child, she was given special classes to compensate for her lack of movement. For physical education, or phys. Ed, she was able to choose which person got to kick the ball when it was her turn to kick. She was given extra time even to get to her classes.

When she married my dad, one of the men on the naval ship complained to the other engineers. He could not figure out why my dad married a “cripple”. The boss found this man the next morning with engine grease in places it should never be. For this man’s own safety, he was assigned to a new unit. These big hefty engineers would come to mom and dad’s apartment loaded up with groceries for pizza. These big burly men would sit in the kitchen, peeling onions, chopping olives, and cutting up green peppers. Mom makes wonderful homemade pizza.

When I was little, I helped mom out with whatever I could manage, whether it was something as silly as folding towels, or as big as carrying her dishes to the table. I learned to chores without complaining because the truth was, my mom could not do those things. It was not that she did not want to, she could not. By the time I entered grade school, I had more maturity than most of my fellow students. They cared more about having cookies for lunch than if someone fell or got sick. I was sort of an outcast. These classmates of mine seemed stupid to me. Mom said it was one reason I was always so goal oriented.

When I got into high school, disability had a new face. Other students around me where disabled. At lunch one day, a girl got tangled in a few mops and brooms she had knocked over trying to avoid the tables with ketchup and mustard. Her electric wheelchair was not very good at sharp turns. I gave up my place in line. The look of gratitude she gave me was worth the feeling of eyes burning holes into the back of my head, which I felt from the other students who had seen what I did.

Another day, during lunch, a boy said disabled children should not have children; they were incapable of caring for them. This made me angry. I told him that my mother was disabled and raised me just fine. I said she was twice the person he could ever be, because all he knew how to do was bring people down and shatter confidence. I told him the reason he never saw disabled people fighting was because they were too compassionate to bring down fellow pears the way people like him did. He knew absolutely nothing.