We watched her drive away. Her scooter is bright red and she drives it like a pro. Tessa, our neighbour, has been part of our social circle since we moved to the city three years ago. We had been purposely put, by the superintendent of our building, in the apartment across the hall from her. To him it made sense to have the two tenants who needed mobility devices on the same floor. At the time I thought it was a bit like being ghettoized - but that seemed a bit over dramatic.
As it turned out, because we both got around on wheels, we did have much in common. Only others who have to negotiate curbs are able to have conversations about why the east side of Yonge Street is a better ride than the west side. Soon we were regulars at the tea places around our community. I'd dubbed the group, 'crips and flits' and that's kind of the attitude we developed.
Tessa was diagnosed with cancer some while back, but you'd never have known. When she lost her hair she got wigs of bright rainbow colours to wear. Sapphire Blue, Lemon Yellow, Whore Red, she stood out without standing up - a rare feat! Her cancer was never really stopped, even though slowed, by the treatment but Tessa never really was actually 'ill'. However, recently, it's become much more serious. Even so, Tessa is continuing to live life on her own terms. Tessa, herself, says that she's still living a life full of quality and fun - though things take a little more work.
Saturday we had tea together and then she was going for a several block drive on her scooter to pick up some special food for her cat. This is something she could have asked her friends to do for her, but then, why should she? She's not giving up what needn't be given away. But as I watched her drive away on her scooter, I knew that without her trusty steed she'd never be able to go and get what she needed.
I'm not sure that mobility devises get the respect that they are owed. Oh, they are from those of us who use them. But by those in the general public who see them as symbols of 'disability' and of 'confinement' don't get it. They really should stand and watch a woman, with a disability who is in the end stages of cancer, ride off into the life she still has. A life that she will have for as long as she can simply because she can carry on because she has something that carries her along.
Here's to mobility devises and the life they give, the freedom they offer and the dignity they make possible.