Freedom on wheels

magic is in the movement

The story I wrote about my having been confined to a wheelchair at age three was mostly true.  In this post, I’m going to tell you the whole truth and a little bit more.

I was supposed to tell 4 bold-face lies as part of this writing project, but I told more truth than lies.

Below is a copy of my story.   I underlined the parts that are NOT true.   The whole truth is in blue.

I was confined to a wheelchair, as a result of a childhood bone disease when I was a toddler.  The doctors told my mother I might never walk again.  I hated that chair! My brother, who is ten years older than me, used to take me and my little chair on wheels to the top of our steep road, which was deep in the mountains.  My two older sisters would stand at the top of the road, holding my chair, with me in it of course, until my brother made it to the bottom.  He would count to some number, which was their clue to let me go.  I would fly down that mountain in my little chair!  It was great fun!  The best I can remember, my brother always caught me.  My mother didn’t mind this game. I wasn’t happy the day I put my foot on the floor and was able to walk again because I had to give up my little flying chair.

The truth:

“A little doll’s chair,” is what my mother says the wheelchair looked like.  “It was just so small.   It didn’t look like it was for a person.”

I had Kohler disease, which is a rare childhood bone disease.  It attacked my ankle bone when I was three years old.  The doctors did tell my mother I may never walk again, but they also told her that it could go away as mysteriously as it had appeared.

I didn’t hate the wheelchair.  I’m pretty sure I loved it.  My mother says that I had crawled around for several weeks before she, “put her foot down,” and demanded that I be taken to the nearest hospital for x-rays.

Putting weight on my foot was intolerable.  The little chair gave me freedom to go outside and play.  At three years old, I guess you live in the moment.  I was too young to understand what never being able to walk again meant.   I was also too young to know the danger of flying down that road, but then sometimes, our memories play tricks on us.

About ten years ago, my mother and I visited the place we lived when I was in that wheelchair.  There was a housing complex with relatively small one story dwellings that was turned into offices for the Juvenile boys home.  My dad worked there and we had lived in the complex, which was for the employees and their families.

Mother and I were both a bit shocked.  The metal fence surrounding the property surprised her.  It was one of those tall fences with thick rolls of barbed-wire on top.  The place hadn’t been fenced in when we lived there.

I remembered the houses being massive with tall and wide dark windows.

“There’s our house,” Mother said.  There weren’t any big houses and the windows were those small rectangular ones you see in beach houses.

I remembered front porch being high up off the ground.  I sat on the steps every day, weather permitting, with my three year-old boyfriend, talking and waiting for the school bus to drop off my older siblings.  I remember being happy when he was there.  We were the best of friends and had terrific conversations about life.

There were only two steps, very close to the ground.  I couldn’t believe how much bigger things were in my memory than they were in reality.

I looked for the steep road where I took the wheelchair flights.  Mother pointed out our road.

“That’s it!”  I was completely astonished.  It was indeed a hill, but didn’t measure up by any means to the one I recalled.

I told her about flying down the mountain road.  She says she didn’t know anything about that.  I sure remember it.  My sisters say they remember too, but oddly, my brother doesn’t and he’s the oldest.  I think he forgot many things he did to his younger sisters.  Like the time he put me in a garbage can and rolled me into the road, but that was later and it was a country road.

I remember clearly the day I put my foot on the floor, which I did every morning, and it didn’t hurt anymore.  The pain was gone!  The bone disease went away just like the doctors said it might.

I didn’t mind giving up the little chair, but I did think I should get to keep it for a souvenir.  I remember wanting it.  Mother says she didn’t think I needed it and donated it to another family.

My ensuing enthusiasm for using my legs was grand.  At age five, I led a large marching band in the Christmas parade because the band leader said I was, “the best little marcher they ever had!”  I took jazz and modern dance classes, but then we moved to the country.  Dancing the way I had learned would have been considered a sin.  This disappointed me, but I soon discovered bluegrass and clogging, the latter of which was a required class in the elementary school I attended.

I didn’t have a bicycle though.  I’d had one when I was five, but then my brother got involved.  He let go of my bike before I learned to ride and I had a bad accident.  I was hurt pretty badly.  I heard my dad ask my mother if I would still be able to have babies.  I was confused.  She told him to shut up and get the car.

Because of that accident, my dad wouldn’t let me get near a bicycle for years, even though my brother always had one.  My two sisters never wanted one, which I always thought was weird and it didn’t help me when I pleaded for my own.  Finally, my dad gave in on my thirteenth birthday.

We went to the local bicycle shop, which was also an auto-parts and lawn-mower shop.  Everyone there knew my dad.  I’d been there with him plenty of times and they all knew I’d been begging for a bicycle for a long time.  I was often invited inside the owner’s house next door and his wife would give me milk and homemade cookies.  I loved her cookies and she made them the day I got my new bicycle.  It was a great day.  My dad let me ride it home, which was less than half a mile away.  You could throw a rock from there to our back door.

I loved that bicycle.  I could ride it fifty miles without thinking a thing about it and I did, often.  There’s a long story about what happened to that bike, but it is one sad story, so I won’t tell it here.

I grew up, had a son and bought us both bicycles when he was three years old.

His was a tricycle, but he begged me to take those two extra wheels off.  “Your bike doesn’t have them Mommy,” he said.

We took the wheels off, but I had a person at each end and several in the middle to catch him if he fell.  He did fall, but he didn’t have far to go and it was in the soft grass.  He didn’t get hurt.  He got up as fast as he could, before any of us could get to him and jumped back on the bicycle.  It was very funny.  I remember him looking back at us as he rushed to pick that little bicycle off the ground.  He never used those extra wheels and we had years worth of fun riding together.  We still enjoy riding together.  I like that.

I can’t go cycling like I could before being struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or fibromyalgia.

However, I do have a fun bicycle.  I call it my magic little bike.  It brings out the best in me when I ride it.   I absolutely love moving and feeling the wind on my face.  That’s part of the magic.  Being able to move without pain.  (The trick to that is being on a flat road.)

My little bike also has pink and white streamers and an awesome bell!

Occasionally, I’ll still take my hands off the handle bars and hold them in the air.  I like that too.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

6 responses to this post.

  1. Your story instantly revived the memory of my big brother & his “pranks.” We moved to Virginia from Texas when I was 7. As all was getting sorted out, my brother, who was almost 7 years older than me, & I took our bikes for a spin. Mine was pink & sparkly, and you breaked it by reversing the pedals. My brothers was a five speed or something and it had hand brakes. It tinkered with it a bit, then finally gave in to my constant pleas to try his out. I knew you had to break with the hand brakes. I didn’t know his tinkering had been to loosen the hand brakes so they didn’t work to speak of. He was tired of my begging, I guess.
    I was used to flat Texas roads, not the hills in our new neighborhood, and I found flying down the new hill to be completely intoxicating… until I tried the brakes. He thought he’d just loosened them a little, but the one for the back tire went flat. The one for the front did work a little… enough to stop me & send me & the bike somersaulting into the air.
    My mother has told me about his face when he carried me in, blood pouring from both knees, elbows, etc. He was ashen-faced, crying, and afraid his “prank” had killed me.
    I just remember him being told to carry me straight to the bath tub & the digging out of a great deal of itty bitty gravel pieces.
    I was really happy to have two daughters. Sisters can be (and were) mean to each other, but not to quite the same extent as big brothers.

    Ah, siblings… I know only children many times long for one, but they sure can turn out to be not quite what you had hoped for. Although, in his defense, my brother has turned out to be quite a nice person. We’re just very different.




    • Hi Ash,

      Boy the more I read about your life the more I see my own. Amazing! We are sisters in one way 🙂

      I lived in TX for almost one year. Wow! What a state. I’m writing about my time there. That would surely be the best place to learn how to ride a bike, but all that heat! I couldn’t take it. I bet you were amazed at the different land in VA. Maybe that was the beginning of your love affair with the land and our Earth Mother.

      I’m glad you survived your brotherly-assisted bike fall. The gravel pieces sounds like my bike fall in October 2009.

      I decided, while riding with my son on Halloween morning after a good rain to take a curve, basically as fast as I could. It was a quick decision. I guess I thought I was twenty-something again, but then my son says he can’t believe I tried that on wet roads.

      I fell hard. I had lots of gravel in my elbow and it took a good nurse, many little white pills and several hours of picking out gravel pieces! Every time she said, “Oh, honey I see one more little one,” I’d get real dizzy and say give me another pill please, until I couldn’t ask for any more. I only smiled. I was flat on the sofa for the best of six weeks. Also tore a ligament and a tendon too. What a Halloween! I tricked myself!

      It’s nice sharing memories with you here. What a great thing this blog is.

      There are only a handful of times I recall that my brother played his “pranks.” The rest of the time he was awesome. Very funny and loving with his sisters. He thought these things he did were funny so he had a good heart.

      Nowadays, I can’t say how my brother feels about me. Apparently, my having disabilities has, in his mind, lessened my intelligence, worth as a human being and citizen and excludes me from family decision-making or planning of events.

      Thanks for reading Ash and again, I enjoyed sharing stories!



  2. Great post! I loved hearing about your bikes. 🙂
    I used to ride my bike a lot too. I can’t anymore, but I loved it when I did. My dad rides regularly now that he is retired.



    • Hi Deb, Thank you for reading, esp., this post, since it is so darn long.

      I’m sorry you can’t ride anymore. I can’t go far or up hills and long distance, but at least on some days, I’m able to take easy rides. Good for your dad too!



  3. Hi hun it’s Bec again!,

    How are things going with you? hope life is treating you well. College is going great for me, it’s nice knowing within myself that I am on the right path for me, hard as it was to get to that stage I did not give up ever!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog, it’s inspiring how a simple ride on a bicycle can make you feel. It’s nice to feel free and is very much akin to that feeling of just to “let go” whether that be physically or metaphorically, I find it healing to have a wee ride even in if it is raining outside (Scottish weather)

    Take care hun,

    Hope everything is good with you!

    (kitty kisses from Velvet too)




    • Hi Bec– Thanks for stopping by and glad to hear school is going well! It is nice to feel free. The weather change is a real treat so I look forward to having some magic rides. Take good care and keep on the good path! Thanks for those kitty kisses! ruff ruff ruff!



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