Ten weeks ago I never noticed whether or not someone walked with a cane or some other mobility assistance device. I never really noticed people in wheelchairs. I mean, I noticed them, sure...but never gave them much thought. I had never been personally affected by disability. My granddaddy has a handicapped parking tag because he has some trouble walking long distances, but does that really make him "disabled"?
Last Friday at Shepherd Center, we asked Tracy about getting our own handicapped tags. She immediately had them signed by Dr. Thrower and notarized by Emily (the Rock Star) and there it was: I was officially "disabled" and therefore worthy of a handicapped parking permit.
So I put my new license plate on my car and I just stood there and stared at it.
The Handicapped logo...
and across the bottom the words "DISABLED PERSON".
Standing in the parking lot looking at my new tag I wanted to scream,"I am not just a disabled person!!!" I am so much more than my MS, than my limitations. How dare I be forced to wear this label (in all caps no less!) across my vehicle everywhere I go??
Each day I am getting more used to seeing it and accepting it not as a label, but as something simply meant to make my life easier. It will allow me to expend my energy towards things and people I love, rather than walking on numb legs across a crowded parking lot and ending up tired and frustrated.
It is a good lesson to learn: being called "disabled" either by a license plate or by other means doesn't make you less of a person. It doesn't make a person less important to their family, their friends or to society. Disabled people just have to do things a little bit differently is all.
And we might occasionally get the better parking spots.
It's okay to be jealous. :-)