…or why I write about disabilities.
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.