For many years now, Joe and I have made our way to the Roy Thompson Hall to see The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and The Mendelssohn Choir perform “The Messiah.” When we lived in Toronto we took the bus there, now we drive. After learning last year how and where to park, we did just that. We backed into a disabled stall at the same time as another older couple.

He needed his walker and I need a chair. As she was getting the walker out she noticed Joe pull my chair out of the car. “That looks like it’s light,” she said. Then Joe explained that it was a carbon fiber chair and that it only weighs 8 pounds. I asked Joe, while I was still sitting in the car, to tell them both the make of the chair. He didn’t hear me.

When I got out and in the chair, they were just done and also ready to head up into the hall. I rolled round and told them the make of the chair to ask for, she looked at me and said, “And clearly it can hold a lot of weight.” Now, I had been in a good mood, I had been looking forward to just going to the show and enjoying the music. I keep forgetting that I have to deal with shit like this all the time.

“Thank you for pointing that out!” I said, as if I was shocked at the revelation that I’m fat. She heard the tone of my voice for what it was and scrambled, “I was .. I was … I was just trying to congratulate you,” she said. I didn’t respond because I was done. Yeah, right she was congratulating my chair not me, I thought, but didn’t say, not wanting to prolong the conversation.

When the elevator came, there was room for all of us but they said they’d take the next one. We’d offered, they declined, it was done.

I thought.

When we got to the top and got out I had to push into a crowded room. The door had not opened yet. So we were all kept warm by each other’s presence (which would have been a nice topic for a Christmas Eve blog). They arrived and were right behind us.

Suddenly, the fellow, her husband, reached his hand out and touched my arm. I turned to him and he asked if I could repeat the name of the company we bought our chair from and the name of the chair. His voice was gentle, softened by age, so I told him again, told him everything, including the name of the salesperson to ask for, the best there. I could see her off to the side taking notes. I was glad to be of help.

Just as we finished the conversation he said, “Thank you for being so gracious, it’s hard to always rise high, isn’t it?” I said that it was. “This time of year, it’s the gifts that are hard to give, that we end up remembering. Trust me, I’m much older than you.”

I could see in his eyes that it mattered that I heard him.

And I did.

So I say to you what I said to him and his wife, “Merry Christmas.”

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