May I Take a Ride in your Wheelchair?!

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

I closed my lap top and asked Lily if she wanted a drink of water when Jimmy came running through the door to the waiting room at Children’s Wexford. “Lily, look! Here comes Jimmy! He must be all done with OT! She nodded her head, smiling, then continued reading her books and coloring pictures with me in the waiting room while I wrote on my computer. She is amazing and patient as her brother attends his appointments.

“Okay, one appointment down, one to go,” I thought looking up from my watch.

Jimmy had back to back 1 hour appointments: Occupational therapy then physical therapy. “It’s remarkable how much his fine motor skills and physical strength has improved since coming here,” I thought to myself as his OT therapist, Ms. B, came out to tell me how he did.

Jimmy ran past me because he had spotted a little boy in a cool wheelchair and went straight for him. We call wheel chairs cool because Jimmy is completely fascinated by them and of course he loves to ask the drivers of them lots and lots of questions. It pure curiosity. He finds any vehicle of any kind fascinating. He especially likes wheel chairs. He never hesitates. Anyone in a wheel chair or leg braces, or crutches are just like anyone else to him. He sees them as amazing and wonderful people that he gets to talk to and ask questions of. It’s remarkable to watch and it allows me to see what he sees, beautiful souls.

Jimmy begins by asking the little boy, “Hi, how are you today?” The boy is about 11-12 years old and Jimmy asks, “Can I give you a hug?”

The boys hug and Jimmy keeps asking him all these questions about his wheel chair. “So how does this work?” As he pulls up a black lever to the left of the boys leg. “What does this do?” He continues pointing to the other lever on the opposite side. The little boy was so patient with Jimmy and he answered each one of his questions with a huge smile on his face. Then this look comes onto Jimmy’s face, he had an idea?

“So guys, what do you think, can I take it for a ride?”

Before I could say a word, Ms. B starts telling me about Jimmy and how he did in OT. As she is talking there was this giant pull telling me to keep watching Jimmy, and to listen to his words. I kept looking back and forth, wanting to be polite, but knew Jimmy’s interaction with the little boy would happen in seconds. I turn to answer Ms. B’s question and when I turn back to Jimmy and I see the most humbling movement taking place. The incredible father of the little boy is lifting his son out of the wheelchair onto the nearest bench, saying, ” OK, Jimmy, go ahead and take it for a spin.”

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Jimmy jumps up and down with pure elation and excitement, “Thank you guys, thank you so much!” He starts towards the wheelchair. He settles himself in and his feet are three inches too short. He makes it work and finds a resting place for his feet. With jubilant eyes he finds the seat buckle and buckles himself in, smiling from ear to ear. Keen to see how it works, he begins to turn the wheels. There is extreme excitement in his eyes, “Look guys, I can turn!! Watch how fast I can go!”

He makes his way away around the entire waiting room. Every parent and child join in his joy. All you hear is laughter and parents would glance over at me with this look of amazement in their eyes. He turns the bend and says with the most serious face of elation I have ever seen, “Mom!!! Mom!! Can I please get one of these? Can I please get a wheel chair?!! This is awesome!”

I look over at the little boy, his face exuded excitement, I knew he found it curious how much Jimmy loved his wheelchair. At that moment I wonder how many times someone made him feel like HIS wheelchair was the coolest contraption on earth and how many kids yelled with excitement that they had to have one?

You know that feeling when your child makes your heart feel whole? Where they humble the hell out of you? It’s a certain kind of feeling, it’s love and compassion and beauty all at the same time. It’s knowing there is something extraordinary inside this tiny human, and I can’t help but feel like I’m witnessing something rare and miracle-like. That’s what I felt looking at him in those moments. In fact that’s what it felt like looking at both boys.

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Then I looked over at the little boy and said, “You just made Jimmy’s whole month! He’ll be talking about this for weeks!! Thank you!” The little boy smiled. He didn’t stop smiling. Looking at him, the remarkable young man he was, I couldn’t help but feel I was in the presence of true grace and kindness. I don’t know his story, but I don’t have to. I just know he is extraordinary. Same with his father, he was kind and patient. I felt so much gratitude towards him and his son.

Jimmy steps out of the wheel chair and walks up to the little boy and dad and says, “Thank you guys so much!! So are you going to be here for a while? I’d like to ride it again sometime. Or maybe next week when I see you can I ride it again then?!!”

The dad and the little boy were so gracious and said, “Of course you can Jimmy, we will be here next week!”

I go to all these different appointments with Jimmy and when we’re in and out of hospitals and different doctors offices we see a lot of children that have many health challenges. Or maybe that’s just one way to look it. As adults we see health challenges, but my Jimmy doesn’t see any of that. He sees all the good. He sees the incredible child sitting in those wheelchairs and leg braces. He allows his curiosity to take over and isn’t afraid to ask them about how their wheel chairs work. I have noticed when Jimmy asks anyone with a health challenge about their wheel chair or whatever it is, they smile. They are eager to answer him. In his own way he makes them feel special. Jimmy doesn’t see the wheelchair as anything but a cool vehicle. He wants to learn how to drive and always finds the driver fascinating.

What a perspective! Through the eyes of Jimmy, let’s see cool vehicles and beautiful souls every time we see a person in a wheel chair. Let’s allow people to be seen for who they are and not their circumstance. That’s a world I want to live in.

How often we witness what seems to be simple acts of kindness or curiosity. Yet the profound impact of those simple acts far reaches ever corner of our universe in the most positive, impactful way possible.

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  • It’s amazing to know everything Jimmy has been through and all the joy he finds in life. You are right, he is absolutely amazing and I enjoy reading every story you have to tell. Thank you so much for sharing and opening our own eyes.

  • Lacie what a beautiful story. Jimmy is a very special little boy. God has given you a miracle. Thanks for sharing all you do it brings a smile to our hearts. Donnajo