People don’t see you; they see
They see your tremor and your white hair, and
the you you used to be and
the you you are
are supplanted by images and stereotypes and judgments.
You were young once.
You had dreams once. You have dreams now.
And momentary kindnesses feel patronizing, just putting a round peg in a round hole
they think they know all there is to know about you.
This weakness snuck up with little warning, and there you were full speed ahead—and your life blended in with all the other capable doers, even though you were ever trying to stand out—
And now you are.
But you don’t want to be this different—so different as to not be seen
or listened to
Because people don’t see you; they see
And they judge you as you pull into the handicap spot; but
when you peel yourself out and start to hobble, there’s the momentary tut-tut of support before you become invisible once again, and all that is left is
I have been hobbling around lately because of a knee injury, and it got me thinking as I relied so heavily on a cane (resisted the walker). Often when we view those with health aids, we see the disability as the person. Somehow it is hard to look past the device. The personhood of the individual becomes invisible to the predominance of the device. The handicapped become a category; and unless you push in and get close, it is easy for their personalities to disappear in the disability.
I felt this somewhat a few years back when I used a motorized cart in a store when I was first getting out again after breaking a rib. It was an odd experience to feel some people were looking down on you literally and in other ways, too–judging your need, assessing your worth, pitying you. And in those moments, I felt a lesser version of me to these strangers than I would have before.
When we meet people out and about, when they roll or hobble in to our churches and our places of employment, do we go out of our way not just to perhaps help or make a broad path; but do we see them as people worthy of getting to know–people with personalities and worth who stand apart from their weakness?
I am going to try harder.