Having been consumed with the general logistics ever since then, at this one-year mark from moving out of Spaulding, I take a moment to reflect. I think of how, in a flash, so much changed. Yet, of the many characteristics that have been used to describe our son, Theo, for years, really only one changed, and that is his transition from being a nationally-ranked athlete to a person who has difficulty simply moving.
We are grateful that all the other descriptions of him still apply: his humor, his insightfulness, his analytical nature and his bright-eyed presence...and a few more that have been added. Nevertheless, that one modification alone has many consequences, and exerts a major impact on daily living for Theo and for our family.
Sometimes, I think it feels like we’re living in an M. C. Escher drawing, given the interwoven and, at times, befuddling nature of Theo’s rehabilitation: what is actual, how surreal it can be, and how perception makes all the difference in how one reacts to what one sees. Similar to that artist’s work, the destination seems to morph but, with a bigger view, the actual goal remains clear. The hurdles have been significant, but around most corners, there is something worthy of discovery:
Even our sense of the use of a room has shifted, as our entire living room is now a workout zone. In the public domain, as an architect I’ve long been aware of the benefits of accessible design and ADA requirements, but now, when I pass a blue sign with a symbol of a wheelchair, I do a double take and I recognize that, at least for the short term, that sign is meant for us, thank you.
As is clear from reading Theo’s descriptions of his activities, we have focused forward, always looking toward improvements in the future, so we have, somewhat deliberately, not dwelt on past conditions. This week, as I watched Theo deftly transfer from his wheelchair into a car, I vividly recalled the early tension-ridden transfers, when we lived at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and Theo was unable to take much action on his own.
In fact, it took skill and muscle, from both Ray and myself, along with a great deal of calmness on Theo’s part, as we maneuvered him into yet another rental car. It was always a big ordeal, and as we reflect on his progression in adroitness and strength development, we are struck by how far beyond those original, delicate transfers he has come and can see much more on the horizon. His improvement is a source of joy for all of us.