December 21, 2004

The Return of Dad's Old Chair

Me and Dad, Carlton Lodge, 1986

(A continuation of Dad's Old Chair...)

Yesterday, I came home and saw something I didn't think I'd see again - right in the middle of our kitchen floor. It was my Dad's old wheelchair.

After my Dad passed away in 1989, my father in law agreed to keep it at his house in case it was ever needed (and plus, he had the space for it).

Back in March 2004, we learned that the Grandmother of one of my wife's oldest friends could use a wheelchair, so Dad's chair ended up going into service for our friend's dear old Nana.

Unfortunately, her Nana passed away not too long ago, and the chair came back home here with us.

Seeing it once more was not something I ever expected, and my wife Grace was convinced that I would become depressed just at the sight of it (which had happened to me before upon seeing it back in March).

But this time when I saw the chair, it was more like seeing a familiar face. I was happy to see it! I think I felt more sentimental about it as a symbol of usefulness and service than as a symbol of suffering and incapacity. It had performed it's job for Dad, and then again for our friend's Nana, and now I got a chance to see it once again and to be tangibly reminded of my Dad.

I got out my camera and took a few pictures of it, with no clear idea why, except that I wanted to have some evidence for when the chair would once again be gone, probably for good. It might sound weird, but it was very important to me at the time.

Tempting fate (and by "fate", I mean my propensity towards mild depression at this time of year), I sat down in Dad's wheelchair for a few minutes. I wheeled around a bit in our little hall and kitchen area, and thought about the effort it takes to navigate on wheels using just your arms (or in my Dad's case, using one arm and two feet).

Both my parents spent years of their life confined to wheelchairs. Even with the idea of wheels, and the mobility implied by them, it must, I'm sure, also be like rolling around inside a little steel cage. Freedom, from inside a rolling enclosure.

Maybe after a while, it becomes more like the relationship I used to have with my bicycle. Up until I was 19, I rode a bike everywhere, and almost never took the bus. When I was using it, my bike became an extension of my body and senses. On the road, I was the bike and the bike was me. When I wasn't riding it, I saw it as a trustworthy, dependable tool, without which I would be less capable.

Maybe that's the feeling I had seeing the old wheelchair again: "There's good ol' trusty, ready for another assignment."

So, I think it's likely that Dad's old wheelchair may next be donating it's services at the senior's care centre next door.

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