What could those three random items possibly have in common?As it turns out, quite a lot for my 1960s family that included a father who had multiple sclerosis (MS) and used a wheelchair. Dad’s mobility was dependent upon wheelchair accessible…
He loved department stores that had them. Because elevators meant he could join his wife and kids while we shopped for school clothes and shoes in August and Christmas shopped in December. Instead of sitting alone on the first floor until we were done. He loved buildings with them. Because elevators meant he could join the other men at meetings instead of waiting alone on the first floor until someone came down to tell him what was happening.
Most bathroom doorways weren’t wide enough for Dad’s wheelchair. Even if he could get into the bathroom of a public building or home, they weren’t big enough maneuvering a wheelchair. Because MS made it hard for Dad to control his bladder for very long, Dad’s urinal went with him everywhere, discretely tucked in an old leather shaving kit. Can you imagine being a 30-year-old man forced to use a urinal while sitting in a wheelchair in a dark hallway? Can you imagine being the child assigned to stand guard against intruders and then carry the receptacle to the bathroom to empty? A few experiences like that, and a family stops going to those places.
When car shopping, my parents’ first question to a salesperson was never about the engine or tires. Instead, they asked to see the interior of the trunk. Because it had to be big enough to hold a wheelchair so Mom could heft Dad’s wheelchair inside and get the family where we needed to go. Which is why we had a 1960 something Ford Fury. As the picture shows, Plymouth Furies had big trunks. Though ours was a blah beige rather than a lovely blue.
But why a post about elevators, bathrooms, and car trunks for parents of kids with special needs in 2014? A couple reasons.
To read the rest of this post, please visit the Not Alone website where Jolene’s guest blogging today.
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