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Someday We'll Laugh About This!


Someday We'll Laugh About This!

by Shelley Peterman Schwarz

When I learned that there is actually a special week in January dedicated to the phrase, “Someday- we’ll- laugh- about- this,” I instantly knew the story I had to share. My story itself isn't very laughable, but in hindsight, it's perfect for this week.

I am the first to admit that living with chronic health problems is often frustrating, embarrassing, and downright sad. And, trying to find humor in uncomfortable situations is often difficult. However, time and perspective have a way of helping one discover the lesson and the meaning in everyday challenges.

Take the first time I used my little Amigo™ (the friendly wheelchair), 3-wheeled scooter. I remember the day vividly, even though it was nearly 30 years ago. It wasn’t a very happy day either. We bought the first Amigo™ in 1983 but kept it in the trunk of our car for nearly 6 months before I had the courage to use it in public. I was reluctant to use it for fear that I would see someone I knew and they’d look at me with pity and sadness.

It had been years since I’d gone with the children to the zoo. Even though I was only 37 years old, it had been years since I had gone with the family anywhere that involved any amount of walking.

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for taking the kids (7 and 9) to the Vilas Zoo. We arrived at the zoo and my husband, Dave and the kids went to the trunk to take out the three parts of the scooter and reassemble it. Then, Dave drove it over to me sitting in the passenger seat. I took one look at the scooter and dissolved in tears, which escalated into a full-blown temper tantrum with crying and ranting over how horrible it was to be sick, disabled, needy. Not one of my finest hours.

The kids were silent; they had been so excited that I was coming with them and now they were on the verge of tears. Dave tried to reason with me but I screamed that all I wanted was to go home and get in bed. We drove home in silence, except for my sobs and nose blowing.

Yes, I finally did use my Amigo™, but it was months later and we had to go to a museum in Chicago where I was certain I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. And, as luck would have it, the museum was filled with middle schoolers who thought my scooter was cool. (Our kids loved the attention from the older kids.) It was like I was one of the awesome displays. Kids crowded around us everywhere we went, asking questions like, how does it work? How fast does it go? Where’d you get that?

Even the questions about why I was using the device didn’t bother me. I saw it as an opportunity to teach all the kids, including mine, that sometimes people need help to get around and aren’t we lucky to have scooters and wheelchairs to help us? I saw my children visibly relax and trust that their mom would not have another meltdown.

What a turnaround in my attitude. I guess I had to go through the grieving process (denial, anger, frustration) before I could accept the reality. Once I was able to accept the help the scooter provided, accepting all kinds of other help became easier as well. Today I can laugh about it all.

That first little scooter retired long ago, but it has been replaced by other Amigos™ and together, we’ve gone on trains, planes, automobiles, and cruise ships sharing special times with my family and friends. Today, I celebrate life, and my Amigo™. And, the very best part for me? My Amigo™ gives me a lap for a tired grandchild to sit on. Life doesn’t get better than that.

Tell me about your “Someday We’ll Laugh About This!” moment. Email: Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com.

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