Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Serendipitous Encounter  

Serendipity: finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

The hostess at our favorite restaurant, Snow Squall, seated us three tables away from the other couple. They were about our age, maybe a few years younger. In their case, she was the wheelchair user, and he was the walker.

There was no way I could just let this go.

“I’m going to speak to them. I’ll be right back,” I said to Kim.

I approached the couple and began, “Excuse me. I don’t see a lot of wheelchair users around here, and I just wanted to say hello."

The lady in the wheelchair turned to me. She had dark hair like my mother and glasses like my mother.   Her level of disability — I could tell from her movements – was just like my mother's. And her smile, yeah, same smile. Of course, I didn’t lead with that comparison.

I learned they were passing through on their way from Ontario to visit relatives in Maritime Canada. They had selected this restaurant at random.

After a bit more small talk, I blurted out, “I have MS.”

“I was in a car accident six years ago. Injured my C5 – C6 vertebrae, eh” she replied.

My mother injured her C5 – C6 vertebrae. I let that slip out. I let the other stuff about her similarity to my mother slip out. I apologized for being creepy. She didn’t seem to mind.

The conversation was so interesting that I took a chance and said, “Would you like company for dinner, or would you prefer to dine privately?”

Both the husband and wife responded enthusiastically that we should join them. I called Kim over.

“We are Mitch and Kim, by the way.”

“Bill and Paulette.”

We enjoyed a lovely dinner, where we aired similar grievances about how disabled-unfriendly the world can be, but agreed that there’s never been a better time in history to be a wheelchair user. Bill encouraged me to speak with Paulette about flying on airplanes and going on cruises. She was only comfortable traveling to places by automobile. We compared and contrasted our countries' healthcare systems. We exchanged information about various adaptations each of us had employed. Their common theme was that Bill was handy and could build anything. Our common theme was that I am a techie, and I could buy and program things. Paulette and I shared the good fortune of having healthy spouses who undertook their caregiving responsibilities with equal doses of energy and love.

As we settled our checks, I invited Bill and Paulette to our house, a couple of blocks away, to continue the conversation and for me to show off all my adaptability toys. They accepted and stayed for an hour. I told them about my blog and showed them pictures of my mother. We exchanged email addresses and will almost certainly never see one another again, although I hope we stay in touch electronically.

Sometimes it pays off to get out of your comfort zone, walk up to complete strangers, and start talking to them.

Serendipity indeed.


  1. Replies
    1. That, my dear friend, is a good question. I have given predictions so often in the last couple of years, which have proven overly optimistic, that I hesitate to even guess. I can say that I recently worked with a new, freelance editor, and I am finishing up those edits. After that, I plan to shop the book around for a few months, and if unsuccessful will self publish maybe end of this year or early next year. But, as I said, I can't be trusted.

  2. I love comparing notes of disability. I am constantly answering questions when in Walmart etc. Especially about my Smart car adapted. Great for yall to have made friends...it is good to get out of our comfort zones!

    1. Kim, I agree with you. I love answering questions when I'm out in public.

  3. That was so great Mitch! I love doing that too. Most of the questions I get asked are about the Bruno lift I have in my Scion and how it gets my scooter in and out of my car. I love it when we can demonstrate what we CAN do, as opposed to what we cannot.

    1. So true. We are experts in our own little field of disability, and it feels empowering to spread that knowledge.

  4. Serendipity, indeed.

    I hope that by viewing your blog she entertains the notion of going on a cruise. You have showed that it can be done, 1st class and otherwise.

    1. I think I made some headway with her…