Strange, isn’t it, that we really don’t realize some things about life until we experience them? Most of my life I have worked with people who have disabilities — either they are in wheelchairs, use walkers, or have other restrictions. But yesterday it hit me full force. I participated in a hospice memorial service. Since I could not process down the aisle with a walker, I had to sit by myself in the choir. It gave me a new perspective. The words “Stand, if you are able,” which we often hear in church, struck me, as I was not able to stand. So I said my piece sitting down!
My neuropathy has progressed to the point that I am totally reliant on my walker. When I leave my neurologist’s office, his last words to me are: “Don’t fall!” Yeah, right.
As I reflected on being handicapped, I rewrote the words of Jesus to Peter about being old [see John 21:18]: “When you were young, you went wherever you wanted; but when you are old, you can only go where your wife drives you or where your walker takes you.”
Waiting for the service (and wondering if the audience expected me to sing a solo), I thought of the amazing courage of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and how his legs failed him from polio. How he was restricted by those braces on his legs! He was a profile of courage.
People have been kind and gracious to me. If I had sung a solo, it would have been, “I walked today where Jesus walked,” but I go there in my mind.
I live in the hope that someday, in the next life, I will “mount up with wings like eagles, [I will] run and not be weary, [I will] walk, and not [fall]” (paraphrase of Isaiah 40:31).
This article, originally titled “Handicapped: On the Other Side,” first appeared in Richard Morgan’s blog on March 23, 2015 and is used by the author’s permission.
Richard L. Morgan is the author of At the Edge of Life: Conversations When Death Is Near, Settling In: My First Year in a Retirement Community, Remembering Your Story: Creating Your Own Spiritual Biography, and several other books on aging. He is the coauthor (with Jane Marie Thibault) of the award-winning Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth and No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted: The Spirituality of Caring for Persons with Dementia. Richard is a retired pastor and hospice chaplain. He stays busy providing pastoral care for persons with dementia in his senior living community, writing, marketing, and providing consultations for churches studying his books. For more information about Richard, including his blog, “View from 80,” visit his website: richardmorganauthor.com.