It’s Lisa’s Birthday! Shhh! She has no idea that I am writing about her this week. I tricked her into thinking we were writing about Spring. That will be next week. This week is my way of saying thank you. So I will start from the beginning on how we met, became friends, and how she became my DSP (Direct Support Person). Lisa means more to me than simply my assistant. She has always treated me with dignity and respect. We are family by choice and will be friends forever.
Meet me at the Office
I met Lisa through my mom. She worked with her. On my days off from school I would go into the office with Mom. She would set me up with things to do to keep me busy and out of her hair. Things changed when Lisa joined the crew. We immediately clicked. She has a daughter that is younger than me and we would see each other outside of the office. Even though I don’t think her daughter liked me. She understood me like no one else has ever gotten me. She saw me for me. I didn’t feel disabled when I was around her. When she was in the office I would take off like a shot. I was her personal secretary. I even stapled papers without smashing my fingers. She took the time that I needed to do simple tasks even though it meant she had to stay in the office longer. She never made me feel like I was slowing her down. We became fast friends.
She would tell me stories, one such story was about fairy cakes. She knew I loved to bake. Her mom used to make fairy cakes in England. These are cupcakes that have wings made of cake for decoration. As she described it they were colorful magical cakes that made you feel special. I was so excited to make fairy cakes. I made a fun cake with Mom and promptly leaned in for a closer look only to end up with icing all over my hair. That was part of the fun. I wanted that memory with Lisa.
What I remember most about this was adding butter to the recipe. Lisa had never really worked with me in the kitchen, we were just friends at the time. Mom told her I help all the time, especially adding the butter. But Mom didn’t quite explain how I put the butter in. Lisa handed me the butter in the wrapper and I just swished the whole stick. Butter was everywhere. It was under my fingernails, between my fingers, and more importantly, stuck to the wrapper like glue. Softened butter was everywhere. Mom loosens the paper and I hold onto the paper as it rolls off into the bowl. Well, if I remember correctly they didn’t turn out quite like they were supposed to, the fairy wings were crumbly and mishappen. They looked like a blob of cake on top of a cupcake but they were still delicious. She promised me would make them again and I’m holding her to it.
Wouldn't have it any other way
That was the beginning of our journey. She would take time before she became my DSP to come to events that I was in or just to hang out. From plays at camp, going Christmas shopping even though she hated shopping to surprising me for my birthday. Showing up just to wish me a happy birthday. I felt so special. She has had many birthdays since that time but the one that sealed the deal for me was her fortieth. Her husband planned the whole party and it was a surprise. I had never been to a surprise party and I was so excited to be part of this one. She was surprised and the food was delicious. She stayed by my side the entire time I was there. She introduced me to people who didn’t know me and made me feel; special at her party. What is really funny is what I remember. I remember Mom telling me it was time to go home and to let the adults play. I didn’t understand that at the time but I do now. I was part of the next surprise party too but almost ruined it. Not in the way you think. I was sweating so badly trying to keep the secret that she thought I had a fever. My face turned bright red and she insisted on taking me to the bathroom. This was taking the time that we didn’t have as everyone was waiting. She still needed to get me home and herself home and then to the restaurant. Thankfully I arrived just moments before she did and was able to settle in for the surprise.
School is over
Before long the office would close and she would take another job. Always in the back of my mind, I told myself that is who I want to go to college with. And so our story begins, after much convincing she became my DSP. We went to college together. I learned all kinds of things I never knew and she learned how to take notes. She was my girlfriend as we gossiped about the cute boys on campus and got involved in all kinds of shenanigans. She became my partner in crime. She walked across the stage with me when I got my Associate's degree. She wanted Mom to be able to enjoy her daughter graduating. I have since graduated with my BA and she read never-ending chapters about Bioethics, disability, and astronomy.
Since school is over she has helped me put my thoughts together for my blog, learned how to Zoom, and read never-ending threads of emails. Not to mention being my lunch partner, and taking me to therapy and various adventures throughout our community. You would think after 6 years we would run out of things to talk about but we never do.
One of the funniest things she has done with me though is TikToc. I know the Chinese are taking all my data. I got nothing for them to take unless they want a piece of the endless conversations I send to Lisa over Alexa. The one that stands out in my mind was a recent one. It was the premiere of Hocus Pocus 2. I had never really been into that movie before Lisa told me it was a tradition of hers to watch before Halloween. I thought I got nothing to lose so I watched it and loved it. We dressed up for Halloween the year before as the Sanderson Sisters. We decided that I would do something I have never done before and it was magical. It was the premiere day for Hocus Pocus 2. We walked around all day in costumes, me as Mary and she as Winnefred, right down to the teeth. I felt like a superstar celebrity that day. Everyone was taking pictures with us. Everyone was talking to both of us. No one seemed to notice my wheelchair. It was a great day.
Video montage of our day dressed as the Sanderson Sisters, not on Halloween
Our friendship is different than any other relationship that I have had. We talk about everything, especially the things Mom hates to talk about. You know, S E X. We share hopes and dreams, fears and secrets. I have friends in my life but they didn’t share real information with me. We had great fun together and laughed and cried but it was different. I wasn't the first one anyone called. She showed me how I deserve to be treated, as an equal. To do things with me not for me. To help me understand the things I haven’t been exposed to. To help me evolve. That is not to say we haven’t had our disagreements but she helps me work through things. Sometimes we are dependent on each other but that’s okay because I am learning about the dynamics of relationships. I would never learn the good, the bad, and the ugly without our friendship
Lisa, thank you for sharing. Thank you for always treating me as you would want to be treated. Thank you for taking the time to help me get in and out of the elevator, even though I don’t know my right from my left. Thank you for seeing me all those years ago and then becoming my DSP. You showed me that I could be independent while being dependent at the same time. You always make me laugh at your English words. Like Barney, not the big purple one but one that means a fight. I feel safe with you. We are two girls hanging out and having fun. Thank you for always standing up for me when I can’t stand up for myself. Thank you for always doing things with me not for me. Thank you most of all for being my friend and encouraging me to speak up for myself. I wish you only the happiest of birthdays. I look forward to our many adventures ahead. I love you.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see Spring has Sprung and what is on my mind and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.