Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy have always amazed me with their abilities, and for how well they hid their frailties.
Society or the public tends to discount or marginalize less-abled people, unless they want to trot out a sad image to pluck the heartstrings or potentially raise funds to find a cure.
This morning’s pet peeve (and you know I have one) is about a simple “superheroes” challenge to fill facebook with images of superheroes for families fighting childhood cancer. It starts a dialog. It gets people involved in fundraising. It’s something kids can relate to better than millions of image reminders of strange kids suffering from cancer, with their faces everywhere. Each kid scarier than the last, a posterchild for suffering.
Anyway, into all of that lightness and cheer came a comment from a mom of a T1D child that she wished we’d show pictures of the kids suffering vs. superheroes.
Aw, crap !
How to gracefully and graciously disagree without slapping her upside the head with the whole notion of “disease fatigue”?
So, this is what I said: “Hate seeing the pictures of ill kids. I lived it, not for cancer but for other birth defects they were dealing with, and I can’t stand seeing it. I really like the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer institute for raising funds, and their distraction for the kids fighting this batte by reminding them they are superheroes in their own lives, battling childhood cancer. Some of my happiest memories are from my time in Mass General, racing wooden wheelchair “beds” in the hallways while recovering from surgery. Too many kids I played with didn’t make it home, though, and it’s in their honor I’m participating.
Of course, there are no pictures which match my memories, but if you look at this old photo from the 1930’s, you can just barely see the edge of the bed or wagon they are using to wheel her around. It was something like this we used in the Mass General’s children’s ward. I can remember the joy when I was finally allowed out of bed to play and just be a kid, racing a wheel chair cart, or when they’d take us all out for an “airing” to a park across the street. Mass General and its treatment of kids as kids is one of my favorite childhood memories in an otherwise trying time.”
Generally speaking, I let a lot of things go. It’s the only way to get along in the world, by shaking it off and moving on. (“Shake it off” and “Let it Go” are my favorite 2014 / 2015 songs, LOL). But, this obsession with not seeing a person beyond their inabilities or diseases maddens me.
You make a decision every day about whether or not it will be a good day, or a bad day, despite whatever challenges life throws you. I am not making light of people’s real suffering by seeking levity and joy, despite the realities and aggravations and frustrations of dealing with life while not being fully functional.
But, just as my older brother reminded us all when he was going through his unsuccessful chemo treatments and they had the news on with depressing tales. Lighten up !
Life is for the living, and focusing on the heartbreaking stuff doesn’t help.
Why steal the joy from whatever part of life you can participate in because you’re always focused on bad news, surrounding yourself with stories that you cannot impact, because the battle is fought by the individual? Rather, I believe in being their greatest cheerleader, hoping to wrest a smile from someone who might be having a miserable day but who just wants to escape their reality. Even for 5 minutes, to feel the lightening of spirit is a health bonus with a price beyond measure.
But, I also want to tell someone to get stuffed without offending them. My brain doesn’t always function with grace, but I do try to be gracious when handing out smacks upside the head.
As Cher said in one of my favorite movies, “Moonstruck” – ‘Snap out of it!”
And you… How do you handle what you feel are well-meaning idiots? Inquiring minds would love to know.