I was sitting at the top of a very long ramp. It takes a second to get my courage up. The mall nearest us is really done in two parts, one south of Bloor Street, the other North of Bloor Street. to get from one side to the other you obviously have to go under the street. This is accomplished by a short tunnel which is crossed in one of two ways. For those who walk there’s 5 stairs up to the south side and 4 stairs up to the north. For wheelchair users, or for others who have difficulty with stairs, there is a long ramp down and then a level bit and then a long ramp up. They’ve named it as the access path, I think, because many people prefer using it and it can be hard for wheelchair users, in particular to access the ramp because of the people using it.
But, yesterday, it was free and I took a breath and plunged down. Now remember with my chair in the shop and my very old replacement scooter protesting winter, I’m in my manual chair. This means I fly down at incredible speed. A heavy weight on wheels free falling down a ramp is a thing of beauty. I hit the flat spot at the bottom and the speed that I’d gained carried me about a third the way up the far ramp. I grabbed hold of the handrails one either side as I came to a stop. Now, I need to pull myself the rest of the way. It’s a decent distance, but I’ve done it before and I have the strength to do it.
Having the strength to do it doesn’t mean that I easily pull myself up, it’s work. I pull myself then my hands fly to grab on again before I roll back. I admit that I’m enjoying this. I know that this is a result of, now nearly a year, of working on my strength. I’m also enjoying the practical applications of the exercises I’ve been doing. There is a real world pay off, and this is it.
I am nearing the top. It feels steeper, it isn’t but it still feels like I have to work that much harder. A little boy and his mom come into the tunnel and he sees me.
“Look at the fat man, mommy,” he says.
She asks, “Do you know what I see?”
“What?” he asks curiously.
“A very strong man,” she said, “see how he’s pulling himself up the ramp, he’d need to be strong wouldn’t he?”
The boy nods.
“Careful to look and see people before you say or think something about them,” she said.
I crest the top, with the boy and his mother watching. I think she knew I wouldn’t mind.
And truly, I didn’t.