“No, thank you,” I said politely to my Granny.
She was offering me a gift I could not accept.
Because I didn’t need it.
Again and again she offered to buy me this gift.
Again and again, I said, “no, thank you.”
Or, I confess, at times I think I just said, “no.”
Thoughtful though it was of her, I didn’t need the gift.
Unfortunately, I was the only one who knew that.
Family and friends tried to persuade me to accept Granny’s offer.
I was frustrated.
What part of “I don’t need it” did they not understand.
The wheelchair part.
Granny wanted to buy me a wheelchair.
And I didn’t need one.
Ok, so I sometimes did.
Various operations, which you can read about in Still Emily, had left me unable to walk very far.
In fact, at times, I was unable to walk at all.
But this was just a temporary state of affairs.
Which is why I didn’t need something permanent, like a state of the art wheelchair.
The one I already had suited me just fine.
It got me from A to B when it needed to.
To be honest, it didn’t look great.
And it was a beast to push.
And it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to sit in.
But that was ok.
Because it was only temporary.
A couple of months ago, I realised that ‘temporary’ had lasted for nearly 20 years.
According to the dictionary, ‘temporary’ means: lasting only a short time.
I suppose that in a millennium, 20 years is a short time.
But not in a lifetime.
My lifetime, in this case.
My struggle with walking, therefore, could not really be called temporary.
I was the last one to realise it, but I got there in the end.
Which is why, reluctantly, I said yes.
And why I found myself at a bespoke wheelchair showroom, dazzled by the number of chairs available, trying them out.
My parents came, too.
Theirs was the responsibility of viewing the chair on behalf of the family and friends who would end up pushing it.
On the way there, my Dad asked me, “What sort of wheelchair would you like?”
I won’t like any of them, I answered.
“What if there is a purple one?” (Purple is my favourite colour.)
I still won’t like it.
It’s a wheelchair.
I wish I didn’t need it.
I acknowledge that I do.
But there is not one single thing that could make me dislike it less.
I was sitting in one of the chairs when the assistant asked me to spin round 90 degrees and wheel myself across the shop floor.
I spun round.
But I didn’t head across the shop floor.
I just sat there.
Staring at the wall the other side of the room.
Specifically, staring at something hanging on the wall.
It was a wheel.
For a wheelchair.
And the spokes were all different colours.
Like a rainbow.
There was one single thing that could make me dislike it less, after all. (Click here if you’d like know why.)
When my wheelchair arrives, it will have rainbow wheels.
And so, every time I sit in it, I will be reminded that,
however dark life gets,
however negative I feel,
“There are always rainbows somewhere in the rain.” Still Emily
I’d like to say that I will also be reminded to hang on to every word my friends utter.
Those wise friends who patiently spent 20 years trying to persuade me to stop being so stubborn.
I’m sure they’d be delighted if I did.
But such a promise would probably be going a bit too far.
Even for rainbow wheels.