“I’m not disabled – I’m just not able to walk”

I’m a latecomer to Blogging Against Disablism Day 2011 – it has only whispered itself into my ear within the last hour!!!    So I just say this.

My Big Brother was born a few minutes after his twin.  He was deprived of oxygen during his emergence from our Mum’s womb to living independently, because she had been told that she was not expecting twins, and no matter how much she tried to persuade the doctors and nurses that she was expecting twins, she couldn’t convince them.  He was never able to walk.  He was ‘diagnosed’ five years after birth with cerebral palsy.  Not that you would have noticed, from that moment of his birth onwards, as far as he was concerned.

He had no choice but to attend a ‘special school’, collected by the bus every morning at 08.00 or thereabouts, and returned home each afternoon.  Neither he nor my parents had any choice about that – it was forced upon them all.

He went to school each and every day.  He had one very very special teacher who said to him “there’s no such word as can’t!” – and they became the very words that strengthened and supported him, from those days onwards.  Because he then concentrated on the things that he could do, rather than those that were never to be within his do-able framework.

He was extremely non-PC in his younger days, as were most of his buddies.  But only when talking about and amongst themselves.

When he was older, much older, he was told that he was to be classified as ‘disabled’.  His reply was “I’m not disabled – I’m just not able to walk“.   He was then forced to attend a medical, to establish whether he really could not walk.  The doctor told him to put down his walking sticks, and walk across the room.  “But I will fall flat on my face”, he said, “My legs won’t allow me to walk, haven’t you grasped what that means?”  He was then forced to walk across the room – and he fell to the ground.

All because I had put in an application on his behalf for a mobility component to his life – can’t remember what it was called then.  But it may have been the equivalent of Mobility Allowance then.  And later on, he worked for a music company that manufactured hi-fi equipment, from record-players through to the needles, via speakers and all connecting cables.  But eventually, the firm closed and he was suddenly redundant, and applying for work anywhere.

Along came another Jobsworthy Worthless One, who decided that he would be eminently suited to be a lift attendant.  There were lift attendants in those days, who smiled and greeted those in need of uplifting or even downlifting.  (And I’m not talking about a century ago – just a few decades ago.)  Big Brother said “But I am not able to  stand all day long, or even without support for even  a few moments, so please forget about standing all day long”.  No problem, said Jobsworthy Worthless One, we will provide a stool for you to sit on.  “But ….” …. and “but …..” said Big Brother.  All to no avail.  So he went as instructed to the first day of his new employment.  As a Lift Attendant.

The doors opened … there was a stool provided.  But once sat on the stool, Big Brother could not reach the buttons to shift the lift from ground to first, to second, to …. and to any floor.  To this day, I can imagine him having said “Well, I did try to tell you but you wouldn’t listen!”.

He was floored, because they would not listen to him.  They just would not listen.

Not a lot seems to have changed since his time as a person who could not walk.

Unless and until we listen – we will never hear.

Well spoken, Brother of mine.  Well spoken.  You were not disabled.  They disabled you.

If only they had taken on board all of your abilities – most of which went against their pre-conceived ideas of your talents – your life would have been enhanced.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to ““I’m not disabled – I’m just not able to walk”

  1. This was such a moving post. Your brother sounds like a man of great character and humor. Thanks for writing!

  2. careintheuk

    Thanks, Attila the Mom, for your understanding.

    Big Bruv was indeed a very special Brother and a very special person. As is our Little Brother too – but I may need to confess to being fairly partial there, when it comes to my Brothers!

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