By Kellena Dunckley, Guest Blogger
During my starving college years in Boulder, Colorado, one of my jobs was as a live-in caregiver for Margo, a woman with advanced MS. We were quite the team. A bad ski accident had resulted in my having a destroyed knee with a full-length leg cast and crutches. She used a wheelchair full-time. Why she hired me is beyond my comprehension but somehow, she and I figured out our cast/crutches/wheelchair mobility routines.
Whenever we were in public, sometimes people would say the most asinine things to us. Their attempts at conversation ranged from awkward to downright offensive.
After being asked multiple times what had happened to me, I wrote “I WENT SKIING” down the entire length of my cast.” People stopped asking me what happened as a result.
Margo didn’t have that option. People would as her “what was wrong” with her. Sometimes they would offer magical cures for her MS (“Have you tried probiotics?” “Maybe you should stop smoking.”), other times they would shower her with praise and call us both inspirations.
Margo didn’t let this get her down. Instead, her sense of humor lead to us tossing around ideas about signs that she could pin to the back of her wheelchair to “set the proper tone” whenever someone approached us. One day, to go with the “I WENT SKIING” message on my cast, we made the sign, “I PUSHED HER DOWN THE MOUNTAIN” and pinned that to her wheelchair.
Margo’s sense of humor and drive allowed her to get out and experience the world, despite the significant challenges and prejudices she faced. Margo got out and saw every possible thing that she could, tried every restaurant, drank a beer at every pub, and dragged me to every gift and trinket store in the area
Unfortunately, Margo passed away a few years ago, but not before having a big impact on me and everyone she encountered in her too-short life. Margo’s joie de vivre was inspirational.
I think about Margo every time I’m given an opportunity to try or experience something or when I’m faced with a challenge. “If she was here, what would she do?” I’ll ask myself. “She would go for it,” I’ll answer, as if I didn’t already know.
I’ve raised my kids to have the same attitude. I will always feel indebted to Margo for teaching me perseverance, humor, and grace and for inspiring me. She left the world a better place than she found it. The ripple effect of interacting with the world around us made it a better place and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.
Kellena Dunckley lives in Austin, Texas, with her two great kids and two naughty dogs, and is the Owner of of FunnyParentGifts. Kellena’s adventures with Margo were the inspiration behind her FPG Red Handed Collection® of humorous Wheelchair and Walker Bags.