What My Mother Taught Me About Handicapped Parking Places

I thought about my my mother while I was sleeping last night and I woke up wanting to write about how inspirational she was before she died. She had cancer for eight years although the doctors gave her six months at the most when they first discovered it. Her first surgery involved stripping out all the tissue on the inside of her left leg where we found the melanoma. She was left with something that looked quite skeletal and lost most of her muscle. As she (slowly) healed, her doctor said she could get a handicapped placard to put in the window of her car. She refused. “Handicapped parking places are for those who can’t walk,” she informed us all.
Now, up until this time I admit I had zipped into a handicapped spot or two in my day when I was in a big hurry, but as she refused the placard again and again over eight years, as more and more of her lymph nodes and flesh were torn away through her legs, groin and abdomen, I began to feel her passion. She never would get the placard. She would hobble across the parking lot insisting there were others far worse off than herself who needed those spaces much more than she did. I finally got wise and just began dropping her off at the curb. I have not parked in a handicapped space since then.
Here in Nashville and when I travel, it seems to me I do see more handicapped spaces open and waiting for someone who really needs them. However, time and time again I also see folks with no tags or placards zipping in and jauntily going their way without a trace of a limp. I bend my crusty gaze their way to no avail, but I think, “If you had known my mother, you would NOT be doing that.”


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