I returned from a week long visit to Indianapolis last Friday. As expected, I spent most of my time floating around in my sister and brother-in-law's swimming pool.
One of the main reasons I went to Indy was to participate in my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding celebration, which was combined with a long overdue family reunion. This was the first time since the loss of my legs I have seen many members of my extended family.
I must admit I was a little apprehensive about seeing all of my cousins and my Aunt Lynda and Uncle Joe because of being in a wheelchair.
I don't know how other people in my situation feel about seeing long lost relatives for the first time after such traumatic physical losses occur, I can only speak for myself.
I felt so comfortable with everyone, so at ease, and there were no awkward moments. I thought people might ask me to go into details about what has happened to me, but that never happened.
My Aunt Lynda was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years ago and this was the first time I had seen her since her diagnosis. I am so proud of my aunt and how she meets her health challenges head on with strength, confidence and dignity.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this particular blog passage was to use it as a tool for other people who might be facing a similar situation as I have just described.
Seeing family and friends for the first time after there have been physical changes can make a person feel ill at ease. My trip home turned out to be a great experience for me because it was a kind of coming out of the disability closet, so to speak.
Many of my cousins, I have not seen in over 20 years and most of their children, my second cousins, I had never met. We all had a great time meeting and reacquainting ourselves with each other, reminiscing about our past and talking about where our lives are now.
I have been told by some people in my life that I think about things too much or over analyze things, that may be true, however, those persons are not in my position and don't have to think about appearing differently than they always have (except for the usual changes caused by getting older.)
I can tell you if you are contemplating attending a family function, or any type of gathering with persons you have not seen in quite a while, especially after having had a life altering physical change in your life, often times those concerns or apprehensions turn out to be non-issues.
I was completely accepted by my family with no reservations. In fact my cousin, Dee, was particularly accommodating, always asking me if I needed anything to eat or drink etc.
I know we all sometimes feel like doing this or doing that is more trouble than it is worth, but in the final analysis, when we look back, it was in fact worth the effort we put forth.
After having left the reunion, and having time to reflect upon it, I am really proud of my family. I never realized there are so many artists in my family, painters, musicians, dancers, photographers, and writers. I was pleased to learn there were so many talented and gifted people in my extended family.
I found my extended family to be a group of really interesting people, with diversified outlooks on life, it was refreshing and uplifting.
I am certainly glad I put my apprehension aside, went to the trouble (with a lot of help from my sister) to attend, I feel like I am a better person for having done so, you can't ask for more than that.
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