Handicapped

They say: “We’re not handicapped, we’re handy capable!”
~George Carlin

The man has a good point here. The word “handicapped” is a really stupid word. It’s right up there with “disabled”. I really hate those words. I’ve hated those words since I took my first Disability Studies class in college. Kinda ironic, huh? A class for a degree in Disability Studies makes me see how stupid the word “disability” is.

This weekend my husband’s uncle died. He was an amazing man. When he was born, the doctors didn’t think he would survive the night. He proved them wrong by surviving over 40 years of nights. As my husband said “For a man who spent his life sitting down, he was so very tall.” So true.

This man may have spent his life in a wheelchair, but he did not let that handicap him. He has lived life more fully than I have and he was only about 20 years older than me. He traveled all over the country and to Ireland. He was very involved in his community and with his family. He lived his life almost in spite of the wheelchair.

When the priest was talking about him at the funeral Mass, he kept using “handicapped”. I understand that is the word he uses to simply describe someone who has a physical difference from others. But I kept thinking that man was anything but handicapped. He simply got around in a different way than most of us. He used a wheelchair while we walked. That’s all.

That’s really all a “disability” or a “handicap” is: a difference. I am really looking forward to the day where all we see are the differences in others and accept them, not label them a “disability” or a “handicap”.

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