Both Rosanne and I have handicap parking stickers for our car and truck. If a couple of designated handicap spots are available in a parking lot, I will generally take one; otherwise I will park in the nearest regular opening and limp my way into the store or mall, leaving the one available handicap slot for someone who needs it more than me. It's a little different for Rosanne as she needs to get as close as we can get to an entrance if she wants to go in.
This afternoon we pulled into our local Foodland parking lot and I noticed that an elderly couple had parked in our usual handicap location. I parked a couple of cars away from them. They were still struggling to get out of their car when I walked over to them.
Being the joker than I am and with a straight face, I said: "Why are you folks parking in this spot -- you're not handicapped! The frail gentleman, looking up from his walker and taken a bit by surprise, was quick to recover with an equally straight face: "Well we are, mentally." The three of us broke into simultaneous laughter. "Welcome to the club," I responded as I moved ahead to hold open the front door of the store for the slow-moving couple.
As I later recalled the light-hearted exchange for Rosanne, I began to think about the elderly man's "mentally handicapped" statement and how close to the truth it may soon be for me. In recent months I have been bothered by some serious short-term memory lapses -- not the misplacing car keys or forgetting people's names sort of thing, but more persistent and annoying "blank outs" as I call them and inability to retain information and thoughts, literally from one minute to the next.
I try to retain a sense of humour about my increasing forgetfulness, but there are times when I worry about what might be in store for me not too far down the road. There is a degree of frustration that spills over into my association with people, particularly Rosanne who has not quite come to grips with my problem. I find myself lacking tolerance and easily angered, often leading me to regret certain knee-jerk actions that I have taken.
I am not sure if my writing has been adversely affected, but that is one of my worst fears. The last thing I would want to do is to embarrass myself, but I honestly feel that I need this type of release for the passion of creative self-expression that exists within me. Through writing I am able to make connections that would not be possible in a physical sense and that is what motivates me. That's what keeps me going when perhaps I should pack it all in.
I have crammed a lot into the last four or five years of my life -- renovated two houses, served as a lay minister for a two-year period, walked away from a wheelchair after major foot and ankle surgery, gained some new friends and lost some old ones, written three books (two of which have been published), initiated this web site and a dozen others encompassing more than 300 individual posts, took a course in puppeteering, completed a number of oil and watercolour paintings, helped Rosanne pull through a major health crisis, tilted at a few windmills, the list goes on -- all things that I wanted to do, or felt compelled to do, before I finally give up the ghost.
Through Wrights Lane and other writings my life is pretty much an open book, although a few of the best stories will remain untold. I have praised, encouraged, confessed, apologized, bared my soul and took risks at my own expense, leaving little else to be done by means of cleaning my life's slate.
I am now resigned to being the rope in a tug-of-war. It remains to be seen which of my handicaps wins out in the end -- physical or mental. It could very well be a tie. Heaven help me!
All I can do is stand my ground for as long as I can -- and continue having a little fun while I'm doing it.
Tug away, you bastards!