As the husband and I took a small weekend vacation out of town last weekend, we stopped into several tourist shops to do some shopping. As we walked in the door of one shop, the store owner offered us assistance and a friendly smile. When we had picked out our items and were at the register to pay, after seeing our wheelchairs, she mentioned that she used to have a granddaughter who used a wheelchair for many years. She explained that her granddaughter Megan was born with Spina Bifida and passed away at the age 9. She went on to share a story about Megan that stuck with us even as the weekend came to an end about the life lesson that a little girl in a wheelchair shared with her family, us, and now we would like to pass on Megan’s lesson with readers.
The store owner said that Megan struggled with complications from Spina Bifida for many years. She was not able to walk and had paralysis along one entire side of her body due to a stroke from one of many surgeries she had to go through during her short life. One evening, the family was sitting around the dinner table, siblings, mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. They each went around the table and answered the question “if you had one wish, what would you wish for and why?” As each member of the family gave their answer, the boys said things like, “I would be rich,” “I would have more girlfriends.” When it was Megan’s turn, she simply answered “I wish I could be just a little bit taller so that I could reach the light switches by myself.”
Her grandma, the store owner, explained that the family was in awe of Megan’s determination through so many obstacles that she had faced at her young age. Megan didn’t wish to be like all the other kids. She didn’t wish to live a pain free life. She didn’t even wish to not have to use her wheelchair. Her one wish in the world was to be a little bit taller to make a day to day movement of simply turning on and off the light a little bit easier so she could do it independently. Her grandmother advised that Megan was fiercely independent and that has affected her relationship with people with disabilities.
The store owner explained that she respects the independence of people with disabilities thanks to the perspective she gained from her granddaughter. Despite needing help with many things, Megan preferred to do as much for herself as she could. Megan’s story is a testament that many people with disabilities would not trade in their disability to be “normal” because it is part of what makes us who we are. Sure there are things we “wish” could be easier or maybe a little different about ourselves but our disability is a part of us and an aspect that Megan’s grandmother and all those she shares Megan’s story with will appreciate.