Friday 10th November 2023
What happened you ask? You see me post a picture of myself in a wheelchair with tears in my eyes. It’s just life happening. If you know me, you realize I often tear up at the slightest emotional situation. So don’t worry. I am showing my vulnerability. Maybe now I can appreciate the Facebook function which deletes posts after 24 hours. I’ve posted a photo of the friendly airport special services staff member who helped me in my time of need.
We went to Cyprus for the WFWP Leadership Conference in Larnaca. Josef came too. I was very grateful for that. I managed the live streaming to Facebook on the WFWP Europe Page despite confusion and lack of communication beforehand.
We missed our flight due to delays in security and immigration.
I have two artificial knees and they set off the alarm at security, so I had to have a whole-body scan with a female security officer who finally confirmed it was the knees that set off the alarm. I had to take my shoes off and, honestly, with both legs sore and swollen, even putting my shoes back on was a tedious chore.
Next, I had an interesting discussion with the immigration officer. I am not an Austrian national and now have a plastic ID residency card. Apparently, I need to show this with my foreign passport every time I go through immigration. Ah ha. Did not know that. I used to carry my old passport with the permanent residency visa in it. An Austrian official blatantly stamped it invalid when I applied for the plastic residency ID. I was indignant but he insisted it was procedure.
The immigration officer at the airport said he would not have given his passport. As I felt grateful for his confirmation of my own concept, I knew we were already running late and yet had to stop the discussion mid-sentence as Josef urged me to hurry up.
I cannot run and each step was causing me pain. I was very grateful for Josef’s support with the luggage. However, the airport is big; the gates are many; and the terminal paths long. I finally stopped a transport trolley and asked to be taken to our gate. There, we were told that the flight had already been closed.
Result? We had to rebook the next flight with extra fees. I finally asked about wheelchair support and then obtained it for the rest of the trip.
I discovered that it is okay to ask for help.
I learned that I MUST ask for help. Yes, I discovered vulnerability and accepted it. Even now, again, the tears in my eyes. Me, the strong woman with five sons. Me the, one with four brothers, the Tomboy growing up. Me the only one in my family now living outside Australia.
Actually, I already became familiar with a wheelchair, in hospital, while I had my knee replacement surgery. Even once, as one of my sons pushed me down the road to physiotherapy afterwards, I felt sheepish, but accepted it with grace. It kinda feels like another type of imposter syndrome. No, I don’t really need this. No, I am not disabled.
Is it really so hard to accept that we are not perfect? That we are fallible? That I am getting older? That I can’t do what I used to do with ease?
Yes, it is hard. And yet I can accept it. I am grateful for what I have experienced and mindful of what I can give and do. I am so aware that my time here is limited and oftentimes overwhelmed with realizations.
We have reached an age that some of our friends and colleagues have not reached and never will. So, we speak truths that are not often spoken. We are insightful and grateful for our lives, our experiences, our opportunities, our blessings.
What happened? I got just a little bit older and wiser.