We arrived home to the warmest welcome possible from the security guard, they call him the concierge, working at our building. We hadn’t seen him for 4 years and were surprised to see him back, he’s 77 after all and, he’d be okay with this, looking every day of his age. He’s a man who has worked hard all his life. After he left we’ve had a series of younger men and women on the desk, all friendly, but this guy, he lived to help out, to be friendly, to get to know everyone.
Having tons of luggage meant that Joe would run a few at a time up to the apartment while I stayed in the lobby to watch over the remainder. This is usually a chore and a draw on my patience after a trip, but this time I just sat back in my chair and chatted with the old fella. He takes some listening to because he talks very quickly and he has a fairly heavy European accent.
We have a moment when no one is in the lobby and he leans in to tell me that his health isn’t good and that he’s facing a couple of major battles. He joked that at night he could hear St. Peter getting his room ready in the sky. But even with the joking, he was clearly scared and worried and wanted to talk about it. So, we did.
At one point he asked me about my wheelchair and my life in it. One of the possibilities, he told me, was that he’d have to be confined to a wheelchair. I didn’t leap on those words as I might have with someone else in another context, he didn’t need a lecture about them. I did joke, however, ‘better to be confined on wheels than confined in a wooden box.’ and that lit his face up and he laughed. “I suppose it would,” he said.
He needed reassurance from me that if his life took a turn, there would be a ramp, a way back to living fully. Finally Joe took up the last of the luggage and I waited for an elevator to take me. He shook my hand, thanked me, said he was only filling in for the ‘boy’ who wanted the weekend off, he scoffed as if this was something absurd, and wished me well.
As the door was closing on the elevator he said, :”Joe took your baggage up, you took mine away, thank you!”
Sometimes I’m really glad that I’m disabled and proud … there are times when that really matters to me, but to others as well.