Disabilities: The Back Story

…or why I write about disabilities.

DadToday begins the first in a series on disabilities. I don’t claim to be an expert.  My opinions and knowledge come from life experiences, education and work experience.

My dad was a polio survivor.  For most of his life he walked with the aid of crutches and braces (the old heavy metal kind). My dad grew up in a time when there was little accommodations in school, work or life.  From my perspective he wasn’t disabled, handicapped or whatever label you want to call it. His legs just didn’t work very well. He was very intelligent and a gifted singer. He had one of those very deep resonate bass voices.  Growing up I couldn’t understand why some people told me my dad was handicapped. To me he was my dad. I had more problems with his being too strict or old-fashioned (in my opinion) than “handicapped.”  I also saw and heard the way people treated him. Sometimes people would stare at him or ask what was his problem. If the person who asked was a child my dad would always give a simple but honest answer.

Growing up with my dad taught me to look beyond whatever issue someone has to the person inside.  Remembering that no matter how severe the disability people are still people. Those with disabilities need love, acceptance and friendship too. The principle of treating others the way you want to be treated is very helpful.

When I was a teenager I remember being asked if it was weird having a dad who was disabled.  First, I never really understood why people said my dad was disabled just because his legs didn’t work. There were so many things he could do. As for the weird part like many teens I thought my dad was weird. For me it was normal for my dad to use crutches. My dad had an amazing voice.  For many years he was an on-air DJ. He also served as a minister of music. Church provided my dad with many opportunities to use his vocal talents. I loved story time with my dad. My dad could also make some pretty tasty fried chicken.

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6 thoughts on “Disabilities: The Back Story”

  1. You amaze me the more I know about you – this is beautiful and paves the way for love in so many ways. I always felt you were special and you prove it in so many ways. My love and prayers for God’s blessings. Love, Lillian aka “Mrs. Wilhelm”

  2. I never really got to know your dad. He and your mom came after my time in Hamilton. I did learn he was an unusual person with his talents physically and musically. I enjoyed your report on your handwriting. I am left-handed and when I was in school everybody was supposed to write right-handed. As a result, I spent a good part of the first grade under Mrs. Scoggins either standing in the hall or playing hookey due to my punishiment of writing with the wrong hand. Ironically, of the 3 best writers in the class as jusdged by the state board of education, 2 of us were left-handed!

  3. Hi Sweetie..what a nice writing about your Dad. Ray was a very talented man and it was so nice to hear his deep resonant voice when he spoke and to his him sing… your Mother voice was beautiful also. i am sorry not to have heard them sing together. You must have fond memories of that.

    Your Dad and Mom were always so kind to us and your Mom used to save and give Tom the ends of her wonderful homemade bread. That was Tom’s favorite part of the bread. I would freeze them and he had “end toast” for a long time.

    We had many a fellowship around your table. It was a blessing.

    You have indeed become a star and proven you abiities over and over. It is so sad that all teachers cannot be encouragers instead of so many being discouragers. How nice to have had Mr. Wilhelm around to encourage so many. She is a doll.

    Dee Dee had her issues with teachers also. She, is a brilliant woman and has been a marvelous teacher and Mom to her four. She recognized dyslexia in one of her children and got her help. She went to A &M at 16 and graduated with two majors and minors.

    So, you gals all hang in and keep right on going upward. You all do so well.

    Take care, and again the article is very thought provoking and hopefully some of those who thought negatively of you have “seen the light”… ‘

    Love you. Annette Joseph

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