grandmother · musings · throne · wheelchair

Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

Dear Grandmother,

Why didn’t you tell me your life was hard?

Why didn’t you complain about spending years in a wheelchair when you could no longer use your crutches or leg brace to get around?

Why didn’t you point out how strong your arms had to be in order to swing from your cane back wheel chair to the commode and then into the bathtub, then lift yourself back out without the use of one of your legs?

Why didn’t you insist on getting help to prepare 3 meals a day in a kitchen not designed for someone sitting down? All I remember is you laughing it was a good thing you were a 6 foot woman with long arms enabling you to reach the second shelf in the kitchen cabinet.

No wonder you wanted me to climb on a chair to dust the top of the bookcase in the living room. Even those lengthy limbs couldn’t master that task.

I never noticed the energy it took for you to move from the chair to your daybed for an afternoon nap, and then pushing yourself upward to reclaim what I thought of as your throne. Why did I not know that chair was not a throne of honor, but rather a vehicle of restriction made necessary by childhood polio?

Explain to me how you washed clothes leaning over the edge of the tub, moving items around with a long stick, removing the dirt from shirts and gowns and underwear by hand using what you called a ‘scrub board’.

How did you change the sheets? how did you get dressed? how did you iron all those items? How did you keep your sense of humor? How did you not go mad?

It’s taken me just 3 weeks of being confined to a pair of crutches to realize the limitations you endured and accommodated.

I’m having difficulty carrying a glass of iced tea from one room to another hopping around on one leg. Admittedly I cheat. I do place weight on my broken kneecap leg, but you couldn’t do that. Your leg wouldn’t hold.

So, Grandmother, I’m writing to tell you how much I admire you. I’m sorry this acknowledgement is so late in coming, but it has taken me 77 years to appreciate the gift you gave me: letting me believe that bulky wheelchair was a chariot.

Thank you for not telling me.





8 thoughts on “Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

  1. “Just getting on with it” is not a concept taught in schools, or homes, today. I expect that there are many tens of millions around the world still having to cope with such difficulties though.


  2. There are times when I need to pinch myself, remind myself of how fortunate I am. Lovely article Margo. I hope you’re beginning to feel a little better.


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