I am so happy to have Amanda here today from Margaritas and Mohawks. Not only is she new to the world of mommy blogging, she’s also my best friend and the mother of my beautiful Godson.
Amanda’s Aunt Bonnie tragically lost her leg and eventually passed away due to complications from Diabetes type II. Dealing with her new identity as “disabled” wasn’t always easy for her, as Amanda shares with us.
Don’t think Diabetes counts as a disability? Think again. The American Diabetes Association states that Diabetes kills more a year than Breast Cancer and AIDS combined.
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“She won’t look the same, but she’s the same person. Just keep that in the back of your mind. She will always be your aunt. Only this time, she’s better.”
Those words still echo in my mind. I can’t tell you when my mom told me this after my aunt’s first (of four) amputations, but I know I was young. Probably too young to know why my aunt had to lose her right leg, just below the knee.
At first, you notice that something isn’t right. Where there’s supposed to be a leg stands nothingness or a metal pole. It’s something you don’t expect. Of course, my mom was in my ear telling me not to stare. Within five minutes it was old news to me. I could now go on playing with my Barbies or whatever my parents packed to keep my mind occupied.
Since that moment, her disability was never a second thought to me. She was normal. Even after she had to have her left leg removed above the knee and eventually, the second surgery on her right to remove even more. She was still my aunt. I still loved her. Nothing had changed.
Although I adapted, she never fully did. There was a stigma against her. Whenever she went out in public, my once independent aunt was asked constantly: “Do you need help? What can I do to assist you?”
She always smiled and was polite to explain her differences. Although she occasionally got angry, rarely did anyone ever see the pain in her eyes. Only after she was alone did she break down. The once strong willed woman was fading faster than her health.
Still, when she was in public, she always smiled, always polite. Even despite all the stares and whispers. The hushed voices and children questions. The ones closest to her could see her strength faltering.
She would get to a private place and just ask Why? Why do people stare? Why do parents shield their children’s eyes? Why do they insist on making side talk instead of coming to her personally? Maybe they would think it’s easier to just ignore the elephant in the room . . . but to her, it was stabs to her ego.
Even though it’s been some time since her passing: I can still hear her laugh. I can see her pain. I can feel her warmth. Because of her, I am able to tell my son one day: “The only disability someone can have is being ignorant. Everything else just makes someone unique”.
So true, Aunt Bonnie. So true.
Talking about Awareness: I loved how Amanda ended this post: The only disability someone can have is being ignorant. Everything else just makes someone unique. What makes you unique?