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Keep on keepin' on

On the Bright Side

Ten years ago I wrote a column about “slowing down but not stopping. ” In it I discussed the realization that while I couldn’t do some of the things I could do when I was younger – like stealing 2nd base or staying up all night without feeling sluggish the next day, or being able to read the directions on a pill bottle without glasses – I was still able to do a lot and I was not planning on stopping any time soon.

I acknowledged then that a little creativity and desire goes a long way in figuring out how to keep on doing the things we love to do, even if we do them slower and with less finesse, or even if we have to figure out totally new ways to remain both physically and mentally active.

Now, a decade later, my limitations seem more numerous, more profound, more challenging and more life-altering, and yet I am still not ready to stop. I got a couple of good reminders from my old column and from some new friends in a new situation, reminders to keep on keepin’ on, and I thought I would share my refresher course with myself here, and with you as well.

A couple of months ago I wanted so badly to go to the Women’s March on Washington in Los Angeles but I was reluctant because I have so much trouble walking (foot surgery, knee surgery, back surgery all in the last decade). Then some friends suggested I take a wheel chair, or a walker, and like most people, my first thought was NO! I don’t want to go to a march with a walker.

Then I had to laugh as some of my friends used the same argument with me that I had used on my own mother and others who needed wheel chairs or walkers or some other form of aid. If it keeps you going, why not use it?

I decided to go, and I did arrange to borrow a wheel chair (which I could use as a walker when I felt like it and I would always have a place to sit, and the friend I was going with offered to push me if and when necessary).

The march itself was wonderful and positive and inspiring, and I’m so glad I got to experience it. And I got along pretty well with the chair. Adrenalin kept me on my feet most of the time but I was mighty grateful for the chair when I needed it. That chair gave me confidence and relief and it definitely allowed me to get to do something I very badly wanted to be able to do.

I suppose none of us really wants to admit we need a cane, or a walker, or a wheel chair – and let’s face it, sometimes those things are a pain in the butt to keep track of and manage – but if it means the difference between sitting this one out and getting up and doing something, why not choose to be pleased that there is a solution? You can think of a walking aid as a sign that there is a disability, or you can think of walking aids as things that can keep you walking. That’s what I aim to remember.

Walking means independence and getting to go and do, and not stopping. Thanks to Terry, Nancy, Suzanne and Suzanna and some others for reminding me of that before the march, and for helping me to remember it now. And while a wheel chair might be more of a cumbersome aid that some of the other things are, thank goodness we have wheel chairs to keep people moving, to get them out and about, to keep them in the middle of life’s adventures and experiences instead of on the perimeter… or out of the picture altogether.

I’m facing another mobility challenge in May – another new knee – and believe me, I plan to use all the aids I can to just keep on keepin’ on as long as necessary. So join me, if you will, in saying a little prayer of thanks that there are such things as canes and walkers and braces and wheel chairs… and asking for the good sense to use them whenever we need them.

© Copyright 2017. Mel White, a local writer/photographer, has been writing “On the Bright Side” columns for various newspapers since 1996. She is also co-owner/founder of the unusual and eclectic Treasure Trove in downtown Tehachapi; she can be reached at [email protected]