Friday, July 15, 2011

What’s In A Name Anyway?

Volume 1/Issue 1

Ok. So I decided I need a new name for my blog, something that fits my stories. There are a lot of “Bobbie’s World” stuff on the net and I’m surprised…it’s a lot like saying “Welcome to John Smith’s Blogs…Page … Company … Foundation.”  Great.  Time for me to get creative.

Why THIS new name and what's in a name anyway?

For THIS name, quite a lot, please read on:

I tend to put a tremendous amount of thought into just about everything.  I’m full of symbolism and sentimentality.  Which I might add drives my family and especially my husband extremely nuts at times. Being female and needing to express at least 25,000 words or more a day, random thoughts tend to pour out all throughout the decision process. By the time my decision is actually made my dear husband is ready to plug into his iPod and has tuned me out anyway.  And I wonder why I say “You never listen!!!!” Of course he doesn’t!  Most of the time I’m just thinking out loud and talking in circles!

Mom’s funeral was an example of just how caught up I get in detail and sentimentality.  Her funeral details were specifically chosen, every part of it had to have some special connection or meaning of the relationship we shared.

A name is important.  I’ve tried to come up with a clever name for my writings before, but always came back to “Bobbie’s World”.  My grandfather gave me the nickname, “Bobbie”, as a child.  I despised being called Robbie, and well, it is my own little world. However; “Bobbie’s World” doesn’t encompass what I’m all about or the subject matter that I cover.   So I decided to come up with a new, VERY symbolic and sentimental name. At least to me anyway.

Henceforth the process has begun!!!  There are so many memories and word pictures to sort through; I hope that you all keep up with my circle of thought!

Making pies with Mom
When I was growing up I remember the oddest things. I wonder what other kids remember seeing in their eye line and playing with when they were close to their mothers. I’ll have to ask my children sometime. For me, I remember the little rubber stoppers that you could take on and off the brakes of the wheelchairs. The cross bars under their chairs and the replacement parts that would come in the mail all the time.  Then there were the letters "E & J".   I saw those initials over and over again on their chairs.  They stand for:  Everest & Jennings, Wheelchair Manufacturers.

I played with the spokes on the bigger wheels of my parents chairs, and the “foot feet” as I called them when I was a toddler. Mom was always a lady, so she kept both feet to one side, using just one foot rest most of the time.  So when she was busy at the kitchen table preparing dinner, I was usually on the floor playing with her chair, swinging out the free “foot feet”, playing with my toy zoo animals and little cars, jumping and running them up and down over all the twists and turns of the metal of the chair.

We had a decorated Christmas can that at one time held about 5 gallons of popcorn and a special pillow that fit just perfectly into that space when the foot pedal was pushed to the side.  The pillow and can served the purpose of a seat while my mother did my hair every day.  I had hair past my waist when I was a kid.  Mom combed out my hair and put it in braids, or curlers if it was a church night so I’d have the big ringlet pig tails the next morning.  She would have her comb, the light blue Tupperware glass of water, and she went to work on my hair, every day.  Funny the things we recall from childhood.

(Speaking of hair, there will be another story in the future about my dad, shampoo, Johnny Cash and a dish drainer.  Interested?)

Bobbie's Baptism Day
I’ve said it many, many times that my parents were fiercely independent people despite being confined to wheelchairs from their teen years.  So we always went to the grocery store on our own and as soon as I was old enough to walk I was taught where to hold on to mom or dad’s chair.  If we were not holding on from behind (like we were pushing) we were holding the armrest of their chairs.  In fact, unfortunately many people have stated to me that we were a “Sad sight to see….these poor little girls pushing their parents around.”

WRONG. Totally wrong. I still get irate when I hear that statement.

We weren’t pushing them, maybe later in life, but to us it was the equivalent comfort of holding a mother’s hand would be for any other child.  I mean, seriously….let’s talk about the physics of the situation. Just how easy is it for a five year old to push a full grown adult in a 40 pound wheelchair?  Not very practical is it.  If anything they were leading and we followed along like good little girls should.  Holding on to the armrest or the handles on the back of the chair when we crossed the parking lot or were in a busy store.  If we were in a high traffic area, we would be on their laps.  I did get lost once, I remember it clear as a bell, too.

I let go for just a second, Dad went around the corner and I turned the wrong way.  Suddenly I was alone and everything was HUMONGOUS!!!!  I was maybe 4 years old, but I wanted my daddy back and I wanted him back RIGHT NOW!!!  Obviously we couldn’t have been separated for more than a few minutes.  When Dad came to pick me up from the manager’s desk of the T.G.& Y. store I was elated and I never let go again. Well, there was one other time, but we will save that one for another day.

When I wanted attention, I would stand on the “foot feet” of mom or dad’s chair and be with them.  We would talk, go for a ride, or whatever the need might have been.  It just came naturally.  To me there was nothing special or different about my parents.  Their chairs were a part of them in my eyes.  The chair was an extension of their body a physical part of them.

SIDE NOTE TO THE HPS (Healthy People Society): PLEASE ASK a wheelchair bound person if they need help, don’t just assume you are helping them by grabbing on and starting to push.  For them, it’s the equivalent of someone grabbing you by the upper arm and “strong arming” you down the hall or through a door.  It is a part of them….their body space…respect that and ask first.  If they decline, back off.  They can handle it, but know that they respect you more for asking and for giving them the equal human respect of choice.  In fact, when mom died, I could not bear to see her empty chair in the house.  I asked a friend to remove it, because it wasn’t possible for me to handle.  She was gone, the funeral was over, but here was this huge part of her and I didn’t know how to process it. I couldn’t bury it with her and I couldn’t myself sell it, it was her!!!  So I had someone else handle that for me.

My sister and I also learned early on that you don’t leave things on the floor or they might end up run over and broken.  The dog also learned not to sleep behind Daddy when he was working at his desk.  She only got run over once, but it was enough and she learned. Poor thing, we thought she was dead for a minute but she just passed out from the fright!  Never fear she lived to be 15 years old.

Before going to bed at night the house had to be picked up, everything in it’s proper place.  Nothing that could get in the way or impede mom and dad’s ability to get to our rooms should they need to reach us. Usually, if we woke and were sick, or had a nightmare, there was a blanket in daddy’s closet, we would grab our pillow dash out of our room and make ourselves a place on the floor beside the bed on mom’s side. If it was a really bad storm and my sister and I were both there, well, we had to share.  Something we were NOT very good at.

Crawling in bed with mom and dad wasn’t exactly feasible. It was hard enough for them to get comfortable and I can count on one hand the number of times I actually tried that.  We were just more comfortable knowing that mom was right there, and she always slept facing the wall anyway, so she would put her arm down on the side of the bed and touch us or hold our hand, touch our check, or whatever it was that we needed.  I still remember the way her hands smelled.

I even remember being 16 years old, one week before I had major surgery I was in excruciating pain.  I couldn’t swallow the pain pills they gave me, so I had to suffer.  I slept on the same spot on the floor beside her.  Well I tried, I cried most of that night from that pain, mom did, too.  But I was on the floor.  Looking back I have to ask myself, Dad had already divorced my mom and had moved out, why didn’t I get in the bed on his side?  Well, there was just something comfortable about that childhood spot.  You know the one place that TV shrinks and hypnotists say “Now go to your safe place.”   This would be the place you automatically picture in your mind.  Well for me, that was the place.  Funny as it sounds, my safe place was a small place on the floor between mom’s side of the bed and the wall.

Something that surprised me as when I grew older and had children of my own, I saw my boys do exactly the same things with Grandma’s chair as I did.  Taking a ride on her “foot feet” from the van into the house was my children’s favorite past time.  My middle son always stayed with her, stood on that "foot feet," and Grandma taught him which switches to push and in what order to work the lift that was on the handicapped equipped van.

Children are so amazingly innocent and accepting. While some parents shamed their children for the questions, or the stares, my parents welcomed the ones that came right up to them and said, “What’s wrong with your legs? Why do you have that chair?” They were satisfied with a simple response of, “My legs don’t work so I use wheels to get around.”  It was the parents that had the problem, never the children.

The parents from other families would continue to be our hardship growing up as children of handicapped parents.  Not the fact that we had handicapped parents.  The problem was the fact that the HPS (Healthy People Society) had an inability to accept that we could be properly cared for, which led us to be shunned by school age children.  Not all parents felt this way, the ones that took the time to know my father and mother had tremendous respect for our family.  No pity.  Ever.    However, no children accepted our invitations for slumber parties.  I didn’t figure out why until I was older.  It was sad alright, but it wasn’t my parents failure at all.  It was the failure of the HPS.  My folks worked around this for our birthdays and with the help of Grandpa and Grandma or my favorite Aunt Marlys, we had some of the best birthday parties in our back yard!

Society in general has come a long way in their thinking since the early 70’s, but they still have a long way to go when it comes to accepting the ill or disabled in America.  It’s not likely the HPS will change their way of thinking any time soon, but me being the eternal optimist I have always hoped that others would welcome the opportunity to get to know a person for who they are and not what they look like or even how much money they have. I was oblivious to appearances. I did get rather self-conscious for a time because people always looked at us. I always wondered, what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with our family that cause people to talk in whispers, point and stare?  As I grew, my parents taught me there was absolutely nothing wrong with any of us.  Some people just can’t handle the fact that others might be different.  People are people are people.  No matter what they look like, God made us all with hearts, feelings and souls.  We all want to be accepted.  But what is it that we want to be accepted for?  What is it that is really important?

I say if someone accepts me based on my character and treatment of others, I will be content.  That way, I get what I put out there in the world.

With that my dear readers, I have come full circle.   It's a big circle to get to the name of my new blog, but we have arrived!  I hope you like it, here it is:

“Follow Your Dreams
Tales from Beside The Wheel”

I think you all get the meaning. 

Have a blessed day!



© Robynn “Bobbie” Dinse / Bobbie’s World Blogs 
Follow Your Dreams  - Tales From Beside The Wheel
Please note that this short story is copyrighted and should not be reprinted in any form without permission from the author

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