-- By Stephanie Hickey --
They say laughter is the best medicine. And I think this is true--especially in the case of our own disabilities. Living through a difficult situation taught me this. One of the facets of my disability is that I often lose my balance and frequently have a little wobble-wobble in my walk.
My grandfather developed Alzheimer’s and it devastated my family. He’d become disabled and no one in my family knew how to deal with the pain of that. A strange and funny facet of Grandpa’s disability is that he forgot that I had Cerebral Palsy. So when he’d see me trip or walk my wobble-wobble walk, he’d nudge my mother and mime drinking from a glass (to imply that I was drunk) and even went so far as to tell me that I needed to “lay off that hooch.” It bruised my heart to know that he’d forgotten my disability. I spent my childhood days at my grandparents, and my grandfather would sometimes be there during my therapy. He’d be sitting on the front porch watching my therapist and me jog around the block. How could he forget that? The reality of my grandfather losing his memories meant that we would lose him.
And you might think his self-explanation for my condition hurt even more, but the first time he’d made a crack. I found it funny--so I laughed. I laughed so hard! And it felt so good; it was a weird release for me (and my mother). Every time my grandfather would make a funny crack regarding my “alcoholism” (I soon began making jokes about my drinking problem) it made me laugh because I heard the affection in his voice. I could hear that he still cared for me and that eased my fear that I was losing him. Yes, he no longer knew I had CP, but he knew that I was I still someone he really cared for. Those moments also became some of the memories of my grandpa that I most cherish
It’s not the same as when someone points at you for walking funny or someone mimics the way you talk. But you finding the humor in your own disability can be strangely empowering. You are defining yourself, and in that definition a little self-effacing is always a good quality. And when I’m having a bad day--feeling low because I’ve hit some barrier in regards to my disability, I turn back to the memories of my grandpa and instantly feel better. Finding the funny in your disability is not easy because--for many of us--has been a point of mocking and/or cruelty from others, but it is possible. Even if it’s as simple as saying a word wrong, don’t be afraid to laugh about it. Embrace those embarrassing, silly moments because they can become great memories that give you strength to get through the bad days that we all have.
Photo Credit Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcolman/2344915398/