continued from, In God’s Time…


Disappointed

Each time I left the states with the idea that it would be the last time so I had bought a gigantic suitcase.  It was so huge that my things could be heard sloshing around inside and so big that it wouldn’t fit in the trunks of some cabs, and so I had to get a van cab.  I felt ridiculous, but hey, I was moving permanently.  Kina, the girl whom I had corresponded with for a couple of years was going to meet me in Manila, at the airport.

1998 - At the Singing Waiters and Waitresses  Restaurant
1998 – At the Singing Waiters and Waitresses Restaurant –

It was about ten at night when we landed.  The plane emptied without too much confusion as I hurried to get my carry-on bag from the overhead compartment, lucky that a taller person got it down for me.  After hurrying as best I could (always rushing because I didn’t want to hold anybody up, ever) and getting to the stairway at the front of the plane the guy behind me offered to carry my bag to the tarmac and I was grateful for the help.  One kind gesture seems always to lead to another. 

The stewardess said, “Would you like a wheelchair?” 

“How far is it to the main terminal,” I asked.  She told me and I thought I could make it on my own because everybody was so nice to me. 

“Your next flight please ask wheelchair assistance,” said the flight attendant as I slowly but surely made my way down to the tarmac where my bag awaited me. 

All the laws of the ADA were a good thing for some but I wanted to distance myself as far as I could from the moniker – Handicapped – and to this day I still get angry with myself for the way I look when I walk. To require businesses to change all of their entrances, exits, bathrooms etc…just seemed ridiculous to me, but of course that was when what had happened to me was recent and soon after being taken totally advantage of by my guardian, (my first wife) I never wanted anybody to make things easy for me because of my handicap, instead, I just bitch a lot. 

Yes handicapped - that's me!
Yes handicapped – that’s me!

 

One time I was asked at a job interview because my sometimes quirky movements, ill-timed responses, and inability to find the correct word, “Do you have C P (cerebral palsy)?”.

Well no, but what difference should that make anyhow?  I knew a guy with CP who owned his own print shop and made a success out of it.  That was in Waterford, WI when I was a resident at New Medico Rehabilitation Center in the outskirts of that town.  If I could just get financed into some sort of business, I am sure that I could run it; but that is an impossibility now so I just write and always try to improve so that one of these days…

And my own sister while playing softball at a family get-together laughed her head off when I hit the ball and tried running to first base, “I’m sorry” she said, “but you look so funny!” 

I laughed with her knowing how ridiculous I looked.  Lesson learned though because I would never try to do normal things again.  I didn’t like being something to laugh at.

A Halloween get together at house in Dresser, WI circa 1993?
A Halloween get together at house in Dresser, WI circa 1993?

When visiting someone I just find a chair and sit in it until time to leave. I don’t look disabled while sitting, in fact; I seem completely normal, I think.

That all happened at their old airport before the new one was built with a new name the, Ninoy Acquino International Airport or NAIA. is known by a number of names, Nino Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport, Manila Airport, Manila International Airport and Manila Philippines Airport. They are all the same so don’t let those different monikers confuse you.  I will refer to the airport as the Philippine or Manila Airport.

I walked through an arrival hallway to the check-in for foreigners with passports.  My passport checked out okay, I knew it would.  Then it was onto the baggage claim area and in place of a circular luggage drop down, theirs was an elongated oval.  You most definitely didn’t want to miss your bag or you would have to wait too long until it came back around, most people can simply run up to it if the bag has slipped by them, but not me.

I got that oversized piece of embarrassing luggage and rolled it the rest of the short distance to where people had come to meet their loved ones. 

There stood beautiful, Kina, she was obviously who she portrayed herself to be. She was smiling a disappointed smile.  I had told her all about my disability, I thought, a little in every letter.  I guess meeting me would be a disappointment because my letter writing I was told, is so eloquent; how could I be the same person?  And my hair was mostly cut off.  Continued again…

Kina at Robinson's Apartelles, Mandaluyong, Manila, Philippines - 1998
Kina at Robinson’s Apartelles, Mandaluyong, Manila, Philippines – 1998

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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