My former dog, LexiTheSchnauzer, came for a visit last week. She seems to be very comfortable belonging to two packs. There is the big comfortable yard and SchnauzerBrother and SchnauzerSister and two humans there who love her very much.
And her focus has shifted…they are her pack leaders, and she loves them and loves her home.
But every time….
When she gets to the main door of my place, the little body starts wagging, since a docked tail simply can’t express enough excitement….and this time…
I live at the end of a long hallway…the opposite end from the front door.
Her current owner let loose the leash, and LexiTheSchnauzer ran. Ran to the end of that hall, jumped up to my lap, and kisses were bestowed on my face.
My understanding is that dogs do remember. They remember smells, and each person has a signature. So, she knew who I was through that method, and was pleased to see me again….
Then the process repeated with my former roommate, who was visiting that afternoon. When Lexi lived with us, it was this former roommate that was Lexi’s Essential Person, her Favorite Human Toy, Couch and Bed…so she was appropriately happy to see her again…
Lexi does tricks, still, that we taught her. Responds to some commands that we give her..We are touchstones for her, about the earliest part of her life as a pet.
We’re lucky we raised a smart girl…because she’s fine with the complexity of being part of two households. It’s my understanding that that is a thing many dogs have trouble with…
So these get togethers from time to time…they feel like a family reunion.
It’s the right time of year for those.
Lawrence Carter Long, a well-known leader in the disability community has been having a debate on his Facebook page about the uses of the word stupid.
Evidently, just like the word retarded, there are some of the community that prefer this not be used in public. Regarding the word retarded, I would never use it. For any reason. And I would not characterize someone with cognitive impairments as stupid. That is profound disrespect. They are doing the best they can with the cards that they have been dealt.
Where I think the word stupid should still have some latitude in a place in the world is when we’re talking about actions not people. Actions that people take who have full use of their faculties. Actions that are amusing or astonishing from people that family, acquaintances, and society at large might assume should know better. I think there’s some legitimate use for the word stupid in that context.
I will agree on this point: the word stupid is generically mean to both able bodied people and people with disabilities. It’s a nasty thing to call anyone in public.
But then there’s private discourse. When you’re discussing someone’s actions with a third party aren’t some of the actions people take stupid? As long as its not done to their face , or they admit it themselves, as I am prepared to do right now.
I was very stupid at 17. I was trying to carry a full bowl of soup from one room to another. Someone with cerebral palsy should not try to do that. The soup ended up on the floor and instead of mopping it up or sponging it up I felt the brand new Hoover was the best answer. Of course the Hoover was destroyed and my mother was less than amused. It was a stupid move by any measure.
I preface this next anecdote by saying it actually happened. A guy with disabilities that I used to date got into the following quandary. One day he asked me,” is it really okay for my mother to actually ask me to give her some of my social security money for the roof over my head and my food? I don’t think that’s fair… “
If you were the girlfriend who had disabilities since the day she was born, but worked for a living either full or part time until she was 42, paid rent, had an apartment, got married got widowed, got functional, and knew the basics about the world, you blinked and stared for a minute because this was an amazing question for him to ask.
I said, trying hard not to laugh, “Yes, it is appropriate . This happens all the time. People have to pay for where they live and the food that they eat.” Puzzled, I asked,” well what is the money used for now? ”
” Pop, snacks, books and comic books.” he answered seriously .
I blinked again. Here was someone with a 146 IQ, two bachelors degrees, knowledge of several languages, an expert in etymology , and a photographic memory. This grown man also genuinely and sincerely thought it was unjust that he should have to pay room and board at all.
I had no answer for him I went back home, shut my door and back on my own home ground in my house laughed myself almost to death and called a mutual friend. I said to her, and thought as I did many times while interacting with him, “How can a guy with so many brains be so effing
It is mean, but I think it’s an accurate label. I think the ‘if a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it did it really fall’ argument applies here. The mutual friend didn’t pass it on and I didn’t tell him my thoughts on that day till many years later, when he was able to take the remark with a degree of objectivity and look back on it and laugh with me instead of being offended. I also have some interactions with able bodied who commit acts that might be worthy of that label. I don’t call them out to their face, but I admit I do use the word when talking about such situations with third parties, in part to try to get the best advice to eventually give to the person so that the thing that they are doing that’s stupid will stop.
Sometimes the only word in the world that seems to fit is stupid.
So privately yes, if I believe an action merits that label I I will give it.
Found a couple of links yesterday and today currency of people in group I’m in that I’m much more experience in advocacy tonight I’m posting these here in case any readers of the blog might need these now or in the future.
https://m.facebook.com/lookingglass.org. Helps parents with disabilities keep their kids.
Then there’s http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org. They are protection and advocacy organization for people with disabilities in the state of Ohio.
I’m having that satisfied feeling of a long term project brought to completion. I know a caregiver. Smart and thorough. She made the choice to care for her severely disabled son for nearly all of his sixty years on the planet. He wasn’t always the most respectful or grateful person either which can make caregiving more difficult. She did so without much respite, in a two story inaccessible home with her son “trapped” on the second floor.
Looking at their future I used information and referral and my own knowledge of his state’s accessible housing and long term care availability and passed the information on to him.
You can’t make someone act on information, but I had hopes, and he slowly began to work through the information, and learn (better late than never) the life skills needed to manage the basic bills for the home…
Physical safety for both became a concern when she could no longer care for him. I wrestled with calling Adult Protective services, but did not, since I don’t like stepping on the autonomy of people I’m working with to help.
His family built on this and did the research, and as of this weekend both are ensconced in a senior accessible apartment. She has the beginnings of help at home and he has a part time aide. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.
When I worked on this my mind was most on a caregiver who gave up her own life to take care of her child full time. She is in her nineties now, and deserves a small, peaceful, manageable space and some help at this time in her life. I wish her well and I’m glad to have had a part in getting her the space she and her son need.
I also told this story because I think persons with disabilities are often unfairly accused of not understanding what a demanding and difficult job caregiving is…for example I think in the debate over assisted suicide, a person with disabilities’ opposition to such laws is unfairly characterized as a person with disabilities not giving caregivers recognition of how hard it is.
I do recognize how hard the work is and appreciate and honor it whenever I can. My opposition to assisted suicide is about me and my own autonomy, and should not be construed as disrespect for caregiving in any way.
Leaves are turning today…Sunny, got outside…cool fall temp, and I saw deer last night. Really blessed to be able to get out…
Trying for church this weekend and choir practice Tuesday night…