The Blessing of a Wheelchair

Wheelchair (n)…a chair mounted on wheels for those who cannot walk; origin late 1600s.

One can go through a whole lifetime without even a thought of its effects, or life can revolve around the existence of a wheelchair.  For some of us, it makes a sudden appearance and alters for a while how we “roll” through life.  Yes, despite its bad reputation, the wheelchair can be a blessing.

Our “blessing” made its appearance in January of 2007.  There was a car accident, an ambulance ride, a surgery lasting well into the early morning hours, a hospital stay, rehabilitation, and ….a wheelchair.  A life altering experience for the whole family, especially for the 75-year-old who had a new four-wheeled form of locomotion.

“Willy” the wheelchair was a part of our lives for nine long months.  “Willy” went to the therapy room for a few months and then graduated to a new apartment.  Willy also went on outings and on these outings, we learned about Willy’s lessons.  Let me explain:

We learned:

  • that when you cross  the street with a wheelchair and a car wants to make a right turn…you get out of the way…and fast.
  • that the “Walk” sign is really very short.
  • that the mall is not really set up for a wheelchair and that elevators are not quite as big when extra people cram in at the last minute.
  • that our homes cannot easily accommodate wheelchairs and two small steps can keep someone out of your house for a very long time.
  • that valets help park cars, but not much else.
  • that there are a lot of parked cars displaying handicapped placards but very few visibly handicapped people.
  • that there are double doors leading into many establishments and one of the doors can be forced to stay open. 
  • that when  a wheelchair is in a store,  salespeople who were invisible suddenly materialize and are very helpful…when it is time pay.
  • that the ATM machine is the perfect height for a person in a wheelchair so s/he can withdraw money which will eventually buy a gift or two.
  • that wheelchair races can be fun…but not always for the one sitting in the wheelchair.
  • Finally, we learned one more powerful lesson.  Willy taught us life goes on….sometimes it’s good…sometimes it is not so good, but it is always what you make of it. 


Yes, having a wheelchair in your life can be a blessing.