It is easy to entertain the perception of weakness and inability when we look at someone with an obvious handicap. Growing up we are taught to categorize people, this begins with the distinguishing between sexes, then age, then race, then those that are relatively different. Looking at the handicapped individual through the eyes of their children we would see a completely different person that defies stereotypes. At the very least, we would see someone capable, and at the most we would see our hero. This is written in memory of one of these heroes.
Billy's mother, Linda Marie Wilson, like many people in the middle of our last century was born with polio before vaccination was readily available. She suffered painfully through her life being continually hospitalized for a myriad of complications. The disease had left her wheelchair bound, pain stricken, and with little use of all her limbs but her left arm. Billy knew the power of that left arm and when he misbehaved he knew it well. Billy learned to respect his mother.
As we celebrate the second year of her passing and her memory I am inspired by her example and the love of her children and through Billy’s request am writing now to let the world know that Linda "was not handicapped." She was instead a proud woman, despite the indignities of being carried to and fro, to be bathed and lifted into the car, and to be cared for by her children.
I met Billy and Linda twenty five years ago, his little sister Crystal was almost three years old. I did not see Linda as a helpless woman because I recall her getting after Billy one weekday afternoon when I came to visit. This boy was strong, bullheaded and 16 years old and he could not get away fast enough from Linda. Mounted on her wheelchair she would roll after him as he ran and would snatch Billy up quickly by the scruff of his neck with the same arm that she cooked the turkey at Thanksgiving. The same arm that she administered the proper wrath of a respectful mother she worked to the bone as a telemarketer and a craft hobbyist. And she ministered love with all of her being.
I know that Billy and Crystal learned pride from their mother. I remember times where there was little for them but she would not accept welfare. She pushed through to find work and made a place for herself in this world. She made a home and raised two children who I am proud to call friends. I know that she is peering down now with glimmering joy when she sees her children and who they are.
There is a Japanese proverb that reminds me much of Linda Marie Wilson; Nana korobi ya oki, or fall down seven times, get up eight. She is truly an example of what we all can be, no matter our physical attributes, or detributes. Her example is still seen: No matter what, push through and you will.