Sunday, July 29, 2012


I have always felt I was on the outside looking in.  That true acceptance by others was and is just beyond my reach.  No matter what I do I'll never be good enough.  No matter how hard I try I'll never fit in.

I attended a public school for the physically disabled for thirteen years.  Because every child there had a disability, you would have expected that the children supported each other. that they would have had compassion for one another because they understood what it was like to be disabled.  And, that acceptance would be unconditional.  Not true. 

I startle very easily.  Any loud noise can cause me to jump.  Children would intentionally drop books on the floor just to see me jump and laugh though it was the funniest thing they had ever seen.  There were adults who delighted in making me jump too.  . 

I was not boy crazy as a teen.  I was wrapped up in the celebrities i saw on T.V.  I was made fun of, called names and laughed at by the other white girls in school. Had it not been for a compassionate  bus driver, who stood up for me when he witnessed me being made fun of, and the friendship of several African American girls, who accepted me for the person I was, high school would have been a very lonely time for me.

I have a friend I have known almost all of my life.  We share the same disability.  We were very close when we were young.  My friend was afforded the opportunity to attend a regular school long before mainstreaming was the. norm.   As we got older, my friend began to distance them self from me, choosing their able-bodied friends over me. My friend's actions let me know they were embarrassed by me.  I was the one who was disabled and my friend was  not.  It hurt.  Why wasn't I good enough?  As a result, we didn't speak for many years.

My friend has faced many life challenges over the years and has shown tremendous strength and courage. in dealing with them.  We have reconnected and talk when we can. 

My advice to any young person who is being made fun of or bullied  is stand up for yourself.   Find someone who accepts and supports you for the person you are.  We are all unique and special.  No one has the right to make another person feel inferior or that they don't matter. 

To anyone who bully's or looks down on someone because they are different, my advice is this.  I'm a firm believer in Karma.  How you behave toward other people will come back to you in either positive or negative ways.  Treat people with respect and dignity  and I have no doubt good things will come your way.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I had to go to court last week.  The specifics of the case are not important..  However, the lesson I learned from the experience is. I learned that some people have no respect for the judicial process.  When some people stand before a judge, raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth, it means nothing to them.

I took going to court very seriously.  It's not something I thought I'd ever have to do.  It was very intimidating.  The courtroom looked similar to ones I'd see on T.V.  For a minute I thought, it wasn't real, but then my name was called and I knew it was. 

The judge listened both sides and I won my case.  All I kept asking myself was, "How could the other person involved in the case not have told the truth?"  I won.  I should have been happy. It should not have mattered to me that they lied to try and prove their case, but it did. 

I have been told people lie everyday.  That's sad.  What kind of message does that send to children?  Tell the truth, but if you are in some kind of trouble that might have serious consequences for you, it's okay to lie.  Say anything you have to that will prove your case and get you out of trouble.  Even if it means breaking an oath in court. 

I hope the message we want to convey to children is to always tell the truth and admit when you have done something wrong.  The consequences will be far less if you do.

I know some of you are reading this and thinking how naive I am.  You are wondering why I would waste an enire post writing about how some people lie to keep themselves out of trouble.  I wrote this because it was important to me to share my feelings.  Thanks for indulging me.

The issue is that of respect.  Respect for yourself and others.  If you lie you have no self respect.  And without self respect you have nothing.

Monday, July 16, 2012


June 1, 2012 was a day to remember.  It was the day my nephew Tony married, Liz, the woman of his dreams.  It was the day two awesome people joined my family.  Liz and her sweet daughter Hannah.

They say that her wedding day is the one day in a woman's life when she feels like Cinderella.  Liz truly looked the part in her beautiful gown and Tony looked so handsome in his tux.  When they were pronounced husband and wife. I was so happy.   I was glad I got to be there to share in their joy.

I enjoyed catching up with out-of-town family members, I enjoyed the delicious meal that was served, I enjoyed listening to all the toasts and speeches that were made in honor of the bride and groom and I also enjoyed  dancing.  No, that's not a typo.  I said dancing.

Tony and Liz came over to talk to me.  We took a picture together.  Then Liz said, "Tony, don't you think we should get Joanne out on the dance floor?" 

I'm sure every person in a wheelchair has chair danced at one time or another.  The last time I had done it was at my high school prom in 1976.  At my prom it didn't matter how I looked dancing because everyone there was disabled.  No one cared if you looked stupid.

Tony asked me if it was okay to take me out on the dance floor.  I was nervous. "I guess so," I said.   We were waiting for the DJ to play a good song for us to dance to when Proud Mary came on.  "Oh, Joanne, this is the perfect song for you because it's ROLLIN'."

They each took turns controlling the joystick of my chair.  I was spinning and moving back and forth in time to the music.  I was laughing so hard.    We sure hadn't danced like this in 1976! It felt great! I was really dancing.  People tell me all the time that my chair is old and doesn't move very fast.  It certainly was moving and spinning fast that night.  I got a little dizzy.  It was most likely cause by the spinning, the excitement, the rum and coke I'd had, or a combination of all three.  Whatever the reason, I wouldn't have stopped for anything.  We danced  the entire song.  I was a little sad when it ended.

I have been to countless weddings in my life.  At the receptions I was always a spectator, never a participant.  This time I got to participate, to be included, to be just like everyone else.  .

Thanks Tony and Liz for giving me a memory that will last a lifetime.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


I hate it when people tell me that my Maltese Lucie is "just a dog." Lucie is so much more than that. She is part of my family.

Lucie joined my family in 1999 after the death of our Maltese Frosty. Frosty had been viciously attacked by two large dogs that had gotten into our yard. We had an invisible fence for Frosty. When Frosty wore the collar for the invisible fence he couldn't leave our yard, but other dogs could come in. Frosty lived a week in an animal hospital, but his injuries were too severe and he died.

I was heartbroken. Frosty had always been near me. Either he was laying beside my wheelchair or sitting in my lap. Whatever room I was in, you could be sure, Frosty was nearby. I desperately wanted another Maltese. My mom wanted to adopt a dog from the Humane Society in hopes that the dog would be trained because she didn't want to have to train a puppy.

Mom saw how much getting another Maltese meant to me so she gives in and we began looking in the newspaper to see if anyone was selling Maltese puppies. We found a breeder who had one female puppy left located in Bourbon, Mo. We agreed to meet the breeders in Washington, Mo. to pick the puppy up. Friends from church drove to Washington with us to pick her up.

The first time I saw Lucie she was a little white ball of fur with big paws. When they placed her in my lap her little pink tongue began darting in and out. I had eaten french fries while we waited for Lucie to arrive and she was licking the salt off of my fingers. Thus began her love of people food.

Lucie quickly became a doggie diva. She slept in bed with my mom. She refused to be put in a dog kennel when we were not home. she flunked obedience training and she refused to play with other dogs because she considered herself to be part of our family, therefore she thought of herself as a person, not a dog. Lucie had us right where she wanted us and she knew it. Mom and I spoiled her rotten.

Whenever my mom was in the hospital Lucie was my emotional support. Sometimes the only way I could fall asleep was feeling her little body near mine. Lucie also gave me something else to think about as I knew she depended on me to oversee her care.

When my mom was on Hospice every night when she went to bed she would ask, "Where's Lucie?" Our caregiver would put Lucie in bed with my mom so she could fall asleep. Now that my mom is gone, I'm the one who asks, "Where's Lucie?" every night.

When I come home she is always barking and has lots of kisses for me. When I leave I tell her where I am going and that I'll be back soon.

Lucie has many faults. She barks too much, begs for food and still has accidents from time to time. She's not a service dog in the traditional sense. She hasn't been trained to pick things up off of the floor and bring them to me. Lucie does, however, give me something just as important. Lucie gives me unconditional love.