A perspective is a powerful tool that isn’t trivial. Last week, Hubby and I embarked upon a long-anticipated journey to visit our son.

Destination: Tempe, Arizona

Journey: Incredible


Head blurry from the early hour, I watch travelers from my airline armchair. We arrived early, and I was first in line for the second time this morning. We departed Pittsburgh International Airport before the crack of dawn, to get on (I mean in) our 7:50 Chicago, Midway, connection.

Hubby has found a bar and a kindred spirit. I see him across the hall enjoying an early morning brew. I don’t care for a beer right now, but I feel ridiculous sitting here alone and surrounded by luggage I don’t dare abandon for a trip to the loo. (Thought I’d pull out some international vocabulary since I’m in an international airport.

He is clueless.

I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m alone.

I know I sound cranky.

Well, I am.

Enough about me.

I enjoy people-watching. When I was a child, my dad and I would sit on a bench in the middle of the Mall while Mom shopped. We made up stories about the characters we saw.

I still do that. So, as the immediate population passes me by, I wonder if these strangers realize their fortune of walking freely, one step confidently in front of the other. And then I see it: a poster child of HOPE. She’s tall and slender, probably an older teen. Her pony-tailed hair swings from side to side as she assists an elderly travel companion. As I witness the girl smiling, chatting, and arranging her mother’s? grandmother’s? (I was old enough to be her grandmother when I had my son) possessions their loving bond filtered into the air.

After what appeared to be a mutual agreement, the young girl nodded and pointed toward the Pandara Bread restaurant several feet away.

Have you ever had a Come To Jesus moment? An enlightening of proportional dynamics?

Well, that lightning bolt went right through me when I realized the girl had a prosthetic leg from the right knee down. Her walking gait appeared uninterrupted as she glided across the concourse in an athletic procession.

It was a humbling event.

There I sat with two muscle and bone legs that seldom show up for work. I silently scolded them for betraying me.

A million questions fill my brain as to what the girl has endured in her short life. (Maybe not a million. That would take a ridiculous amount of time to develop, plus the memory storage space would overload.) Regardless of why/how the teenager lost her leg, I am proud to breathe the same air as she. She is a hero.

I glance at Hubby’s way and catch his eye, hoping he would begin his return to me. Instead, I received a raised glass salute. Oh, well.

When a newcomer is wheeled up beside me, I immediately take inventory. (Stop it! You know you do it, too. I think of it as a survival technique. We should all be aware of detail in case of witnessing a crime.)

About my age, the newcomer wore an airy, Bohemian blouse/jacket type of thing of a multitude of peacock colors and matching the feathers suspended from her ears. Her silver dreadlocks coiled loosely around her head, and a sleeve of bracelets jingled softly on each arm.

And those shoes! Turquoise Moroccan leather wrapped her toes, arch, heel, and ankle in a twisting design. The sandals were nothing I had ever seen, but the color married perfectly with her creamy coffee skin. She was stunning.

“Excuse me,” a sultry voice drew my eyes to a flawless face. Through poppy-tinted lips, the lady asked, “Would you mind watching my belongings while I skip off for a coffee?”

“Of course,” I answered, and remained intent upon my evaluation of this creature.

She stood, gracefully draping the handle of a tiny leather pouch over her shoulder.

After two careful steps forward, the vision turned slightly to look at me. “May I get you anything?”

My mouth was hanging open, unattractively, I’m sure. I snapped it shut and shook my head frantically.

I did not know how to answer her and felt more ridiculous than ever. Then I witnessed the truly ridiculous. That woman who said she wanted to skip off for a coffee. That mesmerizing, mysterious wheel-chaired stranger was skipping. Actually skipping toward a distant Starbucks. I haven't skipped in so long that I don’t remember the basics.

How on earth would she successfully carry one drink, let alone two, while skipping?

Dumbfounded, I wasn’t aware of Hubby’s return until he asked me if we were at the correct gate. His drinking buddy didn’t think so. I retrieved my boarding pass from a jacket pocket (the one identical to one in Hubby’s back pocket) and confirmed we weren’t misplaced. Satisfied with his wife’s intelligence, he returned to this tribe.

I glance around at the growing number of boarders for flight 401, wondering why…

Why is that child staring at me?

I look away and quickly look back. That stare is firmly fixed, and now he’s pointing at me. What? How rude!

Has he never seen an old woman dressed like someone younger in a wheelchair wearing a pink plastic leg brace? Who does he think he is to look at me unblinkingly? He knows little about life and has no right to judge. He needs to learn that people are different. His parents should be told of his rudeness.

Oh, no. He’s coming toward me. I’m just not up to young-person chatter right now. I’ve got people to watch.

“Can you get my ball? It rolled under your chair.”

Oh. Who’s judging now?

When our flight is finally called, I am exhausted and more than ready to move this trip forward.

Hubby sidles up to me and asks, “What’s up? Anything interesting?”

I laughed to myself and decide sharing details of the day would be a wasted effort.

I doubt he would agree that wearing a prosthetic isn’t the worst that can happen to a person. Although skipping isn’t normal adult behavior, he probably wouldn’t understand that with no crimes committed, my observance of detail benefitted me and me alone. And children aren’t as judgemental as adults.

All I could do was shake my head. In the words of a former colleague, “You just can’t make this *!@$ up.”

More about my journey tomorrow,

Lisa, Lady With the Cane

Oh, I never saw the skipping gypsy again.



July 1, 2001, six months after the birth of my only child, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

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July 1, 2001, six months after the birth of my only child, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.