Mobility Is Life
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Sep 01, 2018
While preparing to send this issue to press, I lost a close friend whom I’ve mentioned in this column before. We’d been neighbors for more than 20 years, and I’m still trying to accept that she’ll no longer see my home office light on at night and lecture me about working too hard.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate: This is the first time I’ve lost someone so close. I’m learning that grief is exhausting — first, all encompassing, and then, in passing days, that it can creep up and enfold you and make you feel the loss all over again. Grief creates absurdity: I thought about using my friend’s house key, which she gave me 20 years ago, to go into her home and take something that belonged to her — a picture frame, a scarf, a book. In that moment, I just needed something she had touched and held. Something she had loved.
In talking to an industry colleague about this, I quoted Patti Davis: It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.
“Yes,” my colleague said. “We keep moving. It doesn’t matter the size of the steps or how fast we go. Just that we are moving, that we keep moving. That’s what life is.”
In other words: Mobility is life.
We hear those words a lot in our industry: That mobility is a human right, and independent mobility is what enables us to explore, learn, socialize. Our ability to move in the way we want, when we want, as much as we want, is an important part of being human and of being happy. It’s true.
The seating and wheeled mobility industry gives physical form to those metaphors. Every day, hospital patients and their families hear shocking news: The paralysis means you won’t walk again or Your child won’t ever walk on his own. The people hearing it grieve. They have to adjust their thinking, their expectations. They are scared, they feel lost.
Then, you come in and offer the all-important but.
Your child won’t walk on her own, but she can propel herself in a wheelchair that’s fit and built just for her. I know you sustained a spinal cord injury, but we can set you up in a power chair that you can operate with your head. You have a hard time repositioning yourself, but do you want to try this tilt in space? You can’t stand on your own, but there are several different kinds of devices that can help you to stand again.
Mobility is indeed life, and you play a critical role in helping clients and families to move forward, literally. Those actions can help them move forward figuratively as well. What a precious opportunity.
“Sounds like a column for your magazine,” my friend and colleague said.
Indeed it is.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Mobility Management.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.