I’m fortunate to live in a community that usually meets my needs and asks me to be an active community member as well. Here’s how it worked this week:
I went to the luncheon of the Eau Claire Community Foundation to see the grant I started given out for the first time. It is called Access Eau Claire and is designed to give a local non-profit a small grant to help it be more inclusive of people with disabilities in its programs. The Advancing Hope fund that won will give para-transit passes for rides to our local soup kitchen to people who need to ride para-transit, just like we have free rides in the winter for regular bus riders. Because of a communications mix-up with the gal who represented the organization getting the grant, I didn’t have a ride to the luncheon. So I called a neighbor who dropped everything and gave me a ride. I got there a half hour late and made a grand entrance just before the program started, but I was there! Community came through for me.
The next couple days dedicated volunteers and I shopped for and delivered pet food and supplies (mainly litter) to thirty households of elderly, disabled and poor pet owners. I started this We All Love Our Pets program eight years ago and now run it for our local Humane Association. The animals are so cute and it’s fun to hear the pride in the owners’ voices as they tell us about their beloved companion animals. Again community comes through with volunteers who give time and a tank of gas to driving around delivering.
When a friend who is a mom of a high school student asked me if I’d be a fortune-teller for the lock-in party they have for seniors after graduation, I just had to say “yes.” As I did research (both book and Internet) to get ready I realized fortune-telling and my real career of being a clinical psychologist had some big similarities. Friends and neighbors have let me practice on them and have lent me clothing and gaudy jewelry. One neighbor made Luna and Madam Katherine a fine sign with stars and the moon on it. A classroom at the high school was transformed with fabric and little twinkly lights into the fortune-telling parlor. Three of us fortune tellers held forth. The other two had done it before and were much more definitive in their predictions than I was; e.g. “roll the dice and I’ll tell you how many times you’ll be married and how many kids you’ll have.” Mine were more of the “you will have some troubles but you will get through them and then will have some good luck.” form. Luna’s favorite customer was a young man going into engine mechanics who loved to fish. I think she was working on him to take her fishing, but he said he preferred cats to dogs. The next day we both staggered around like we had hangovers. 2:30a.m. is definitely past our bedtime. Note to self: next year take an evening nap!
The rest of the week filled up with giving blood, reading Scripture at Mass, giving Animal Kisses to a friend’s new baby, and recommending a thriller, Kill Switch to friends. These are activities of daily life for many people. The only difference for me is a bit of extra effort to get the written word in Braille or a book on CD in the case of the thriller (involving a noble military working dog, by the way). Research for fortune-telling was of course done on the Internet with my talking computer. It’s all part of the ABCDE’s of living with a disability:
A: asking/advocating for what I need different
B: breaking the bubble of isolation by reaching out
C: costs more sometimes
D: discrimination happens
E: it takes more energy and time to live the good life when a disability is on board.
I hope you’ve enjoyed scenes from my community. I’d be glad to tell your fortune, if you’d cross my palm with some bit coins (preferably marked in braille)!