Excerpt from Face Your Fears — My novel scheduled for release in July 2018.
Nate McGuire is a spastic quadriplegic with Cerebral Palsy. In this part, he is 10, sitting in his bedroom, home from school for fighting with his friend Jason, 10, also kicked out.
Dad comes in and turns my chair around, and there’s Jase sitting in a wheelchair. His arms and legs are strapped down with Velcro strips so he can’t use them. I want to ask what the hell is going on, but both our dads are there, and one of them is a reverend. “Hi, Jase, why are you strapped in that chair?”
Jase looks down. His dad says, “Nate, I thought it would be a good idea for Jason to learn what your life is like. So he and I are going to be here all day. I brought my lap-top and will work in your guest room while your dad works in his office. All right?”
I nod, what else can I say? No, get him out of here. I got a goose egg shiner above my left eye that’s turning puke yellow because of him. Or, of course, let me help a normy learn what being disabled is like—if that’s possible!
(Later, Jason needs to go to the bathroom, but his father won’t let him go by himself and insists on helping him the same way Nate’s father helps him.)
“We all help him (Nate). Everyone in the house, his mom, sister, Anna, Peter, it’s no big deal,” Dad says. “Reverend Lee, I wheel him in, stand him up and pull open his fly. Usually, he pulls out his penis and aims it, but we have to support him because he can’t stand by himself.” Jason’s eyes get bigger. “Or, if he has to poop, I pull down his pants and boxers and sit him on the toilet. His balance is good enough now, so I don’t have to hang onto him. Then I come back, wipe him, pull his clothes up and set him back in his chair.”
Dad looks down at Jason, then winks at Reverend Lee. “Or, if Nate is in bed, I might use a urinal or, if he’s sick, a bed pan.”
Jase looks sick. I think he might pass out. His dad says, “Well, Jason, pee or poop?”
Dropping his chin, he mutters, “Poop.”
My dad points toward my bathroom behind the wall that angles out. There is no door and it’s extra-large for wheelchairs and people to help.
“Wow! Is this ever well designed!” Reverend Lee calls out.
“Isn’t it great?” Dad says. “This room was designed by an architect who specializes in universal design.”
His dad wheels him around the wall into the bathroom area as Jason whimpers, “Dad, let me do this by myself, please.”
“Son, this is part of learning what life is like for people who are different than you.”
Jason has tears in his eyes and won’t look at me when his dad wheels him out. Our dads move us out of the direct sun and leave. Jason’s nose is dripping and he twists his head and wipes it on his shoulder. I’m jealous, I can’t move mine that far. Guess that means I can only do forward head butts.
(Jason and his dad are leaving…)
At the door, Reverend Lee asks Jason, “Son, did you learn anything today?”
Jason nods and gets real quiet for a minute. “Yes, Dad. Nate is way tougher than me. He lives this way every day. He is brave, too. He doesn’t complain and isn’t afraid to ask for help.”
“Goodbye Jase, I’ll see you Monday.” That’s all I can say. I turn my head so no one sees the tears in my eyes.
When the door closes, I glare at Dad. “I’m glad he learned what being a cripple is like. But Dad, what have I learned? I can’t be a normy for a day, can I? Don’t ever do this again, it may have been good for him, but it sucked for me! His dad could have done the same dang thing at home.” Dad looks surprised at my outburst. “What am I? The head trainer for normys who want to be cripples for a day?”
Dad doesn’t say anything; he isn’t looking mad, just serious. He picks me up out of my chair. “My God, you’re getting lanky,” he says as he carries me through the kitchen to the family room area. He sits down in his big recliner and holds me. He arranges my twisted, jerking legs, then cuddles me till I relax. I almost tell him I’m not a baby. But I don’t—this feels too good. “Nate, I think you are right. It sounded like a good idea when Reverend Lee called, but I was seeing it through my normy eyes, not yours. I’m sorry.” He reclines the chair back a little and hugs me closer. “Nate, you are normal, you are who you are and no one in our family wants you any different, understand?”
I snuggle my head tighter against his chest for a while, then giggle. “No different, Dad? Does that include my big mouth? And my Irish temper?”
Dad groans. Then hugs me tighter.