I just hobbled to my desk, hugging two crutches under my left arm so I could carry a mug of hot tea in my right hand. I broke tiny bones in my foot and this is what I am reduced to.
Fifteen years ago I badly sprained my ankle and had to commute to the city, where taxi drivers would not pick me up. A friend flagged taxis and I would inch over to the cab on my crutches. It angered me, but I could understand how hard-pressed cabbies might shun a passenger who would take several minutes just to get into the cab, and several more minutes hauling herself out of it. Last night I had the opposite experience. My husband and I went to the city to hear a Mike Daisey monologue, and people were so considerate, opening doors and standing back solicitously as I passed. One attendant in the theatre ushered me to the ladies room and graciously turned his back so he couldn’t see in as he opened the door. This time, I was not a harried commuter trying to catch a bus. I had my husband with me, and everyone could see there was someone at my side. I am figuring out whether my helplessness as a commuter turned people away, while knowing last night that I was well supported attracted them to me. Do people generally help helpless people, or do they only help well dressed, unfrantic, un-needy cripples? Good question.
My first husband criticized me for staying in bed when I was sick, “Get up out of bed. You’ve got things to do!” My husband now shops, cooks, does the laundry, hangs up my coat, brings me my book that’s over there where I can’t reach it and my Ibuprofen, and positions the car so it’s right outside the door. He also helps me cross the street. Being compromised by some pain and crutches scrambles the brain as well as the body. If you can’t do A, then you can’t accomplish B. Having a partner take over is helping my thought processes as well as my body.
Kindness, my primary requirement for a lifetime companion, overflows in my dear husband. I feel a new layer of softness, tolerance, and love for him as we go through this contretemps. Gratitude, too. Plenty of that.