Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Commemoration To Bruce

Last Friday night saw my attendance at my good mate Bruce's 10 year commemoration since his accident (that put him in a wheelchair).

I have never been to a commemoration of a disabled person... heck... I've never been to a commemoration full stop!

What is a commemoration? Besides a big fancy word with more M's in it than M&M chocoloates?!

For the first time in my life I had no clue what to wear! In fact, I almost felt like a woman when they take hours to find the right dress!

(Okay, maybe that's going too far - guys will NEVER understand that).

But what was I to wear? Should I wear black? Maybe something blue? Something borrowed? Perhaps something new?

"Stuff it!" I thought, "I'm wearing nothin."

That'd go down well.

I can picture the scene now...

*Formal dining arrangement with splendid chandeliers and finely dressed waiters and waitresses, then a speech from the host of the evening...*
Bruce: ... And another person I would like to give a special thank you to is... Ryan.
*Audience claps*
Bruce: Ryan, come up here.
*Bruce motions towards the podium where he is seated*
Me (standing up walking up to the podium, waving to the crowd): Hi.
**Everyone in shock at the discovery that I've worn nothing on**
Bruce: Ah, Ryan... has... been.. a good friend to me... over the... umm...
Me (hands on hips... well I've got nowhere else to put them!... I ain't got pockets!)
Bruce: Umm... yes... over the... we've been friends for a long time now... very long...
Me (smiling and nodding, facing Bruce): Tell them about how we met.
Bruce: Umm... yes... good point.
Me (waving into the crowd)
Bruce: Ryan and I met at church. I know that it's kind of hard to grasp... ummm... I mean... difficult to understand... but, yes thanks Ryan for being... ummm... for being... a friend that gave a helping hand when needed... I mean... gave me a good thrust when I needed it... umm... aah... security?

Now that would be an unforgettable commemoration now wouldn't it!!

Don't know whether I'd be invited to his 20th... or to any other engagement after that though!!

Dare to be different right?

Ok maybe not.

After dressing casually I made my way to the commemoration. I was still uneasy on what to say, how to introduce myself, what to do or even how to order mains.

I mean do you say to someone who has been in a wheelchair for the last 10 years, "Happy Commemoration" as you do with anniversaries and birthdays... or is it "Merry Commemoration"?? Do we hold hands and sing Kumbaya? Do we get up and dance? Do we all say a little something about our mate??

I was going to have to wing it.

Heck, I've been winging it all my life... in fact I've got wings on my back now because of all the winging I've done throughout life (people call them hairs, but I call them wings)... so wing it I did.

Unfortunately the night started awkwardly - obviously I wasn't the only commemorative virgin in the crowd, but the difficulty was in getting a conversation started.

Most people started with the obvious question of: So how did you meet Bruce?

Me: At church. And you?

Responses I received included:

"I'm his carer."


"I was on the football ground when the accident happened."


"I dated him for a short period."


"I'm just here for the beer maaan."


"I'm just the waitress here sir, what would you like to drink?"

See! Nothing to really create an enjoyable conversation over with dinner and coffee now is it?

BUT, I will give credit to the food... it was another major reason why people had difficulty talking... we were all too busy stuffing our faces with warm bread, pasta, garlic bread, chips, pizza, salad, cake, chicken, tapas... it was great!!

By the end of the night Bruce gave a speech about how the very day we were gathered together was the very day 10 years ago his accident occurred. At the end he gave us all a heart felt thank you and individually went to each one of us and made sure his thank you was not not just another "thank you".

When I drove home that night I thanked God for some of the simplest things in life that I take for granted... like... even being able to drive (although many would question this ability)! Yet, for someone like Bruce driving a car is an impossibility, heck even walking is an impossibility!

When I reflected on the problems I had in life all I had to do was put them in perspective to how my mate Bruce is going and they pale into insignificance. In fact I believe that I'm more disabled than Bruce! Sure, I might not be physically disabiled as Bruce is, but when it comes to to mind and spirit I'm a distant second.

My heart goes out to all those in wheelchairs.

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