2012-08-01 / Opinion

IN MY OPINION

Simple steps in a day
BY BRENDA SANFORD
Chief Asst. Sanilac County Prosecutor

I guess it’s human nature to take things for granted. We all do it. I am certainly guilty of it, for it’s easy not to appreciate what one has until it’s gone. This summer, we have been reminded that our usual complaining about having too much rain in Michigan was probably shortsighted, now that we have suffered from too little. We tend to grumble and complain about our life and its shortcomings. Should we instead try to take more notice of the little victories along the way? For instance, if our car started this morning and took us to where we needed to go, maybe we should take a moment to be thankful, for many individuals who don’t have one.

And we often listen to people as they sputter about their spouse or their children or their parents for doing, or not doing, something that has irritated them. However, before getting too upset, maybe they should try envisioning a life without them–sitting alone in an empty house. Maybe those disobedient family members aren’t so bad, after all.

When we’re healthy, busy, and spinning through our lives, do we ever pause and really consider how we accomplish the small little steps that we take every day, such as the mere task of getting out of bed and crossing a room? I dare to say that if we need something from the top cupboard in the kitchen, we don’t think twice about standing up on our tiptoes or climbing up on a chair to reach it. If we need to collect the mail in a snowstorm, it’s no big deal to pull on our boots and go out and get it. If we want to visit a beach and watch the sailboats go by, it’s a simple hop and a skip from the parking lot to the beach, where we can feel the sand between our toes. If we want to attend the county fair and wander around, we do so without hesitation. Not so, if you are confined to a wheelchair and such simple tasks become difficult. And especially in a rural area like this one, getting out and about presents hurdles that the rest of us probably don’t even think about, unless you or someone close to you suffers such a limitation.

I admit and feel somewhat ashamed to say that I myself never gave it much thought. But over the last couple of years, I have become friends with someone whose world opened my eyes to a whole host of things that I took for granted. I can walk. He cannot. Yet, through sheer will power and a positive spirit, he hasn’t let it prevent him from doing remarkable things. He has two careers. A family. A nice home and vehicles. And yet, he cannot walk. Each and every day is risk-filled and challenging for him at the most basic of levels.

Sadly, I have also learned that this community is not always friendly to those who are physically disabled. For instance, there are many parking areas where there are no designated disabled person parking spots at all. If by chance there are a couple of spots, they are often so far from the door that it becomes nearly impossible to reach it in bad weather. Or, if one can approach the door, there is an obstructive ledge in the path. And many of the doors can’t be opened and maneuvered through without someone else’s assistance.

Further complicating the situation are the people who cheat and use a designated parking spot when they don’t need to use one. I am sure that we have all seen them. A vehicle with only one occupant pulls into a spot. The driver whips out one of those blue-colored placards to hang from the mirror, hops out of the seat without any hindrance whatsoever, and then tries to race to the store before anyone should notice. It is selfish and shameful. Not to mention criminal.

I commend the businesses and public authorities who have made the necessary accommodations, even when not required to do so by law. They are indeed noticed. I challenge the rest to take a look at what they can do better.

Which brings me back to my original point that we take the simplest of things for granted. My friend has opened my eyes to the difficulties of being unable to walk. But while he strives daily not to let it hold him back, we could all do a better job of helping out those less fortunate than we are.

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