[The wheelchair I’ve been using was a donation from the family of a woman who passed away recently. Although they could have chosen to sell the chair, or do something else with it, instead they donated it and made it possible for me to get one. I wanted to write them a note thanking them for their donation. I’ve edited out the name for the sake of their privacy, and using a stand in name in one place. Friends who read the letter suggested I post it on here for others to see and maybe help encourage other people to be generous with their inherited accessibility devices.]
To the family of [the woman who passed away]
I would like to offer my sincere condolences on your loss. From all that I’ve heard and read, she was an amazing woman who worked hard to make the world a little bit better. I was at the home for only an hour and even so many people stopped to tell me something kind about her.
I am writing because I want to thank you for your generosity in agreeing to donate her power wheelchair. I am a multiply disabled writer here in Ottawa. For a long time I’ve been struggling with severe pain that limits my mobility and with it my ability to go out into the world. Since I am still physically able to walk, I am on the very edge of qualifying for help through the Accessibility Device Program – meaning it is very unsure whether I could qualify for an electric mobility device. Since I am also on ODSP, I had little hope of ever being able to afford one.
I received your generous donation just this past week, and had it adjusted to my size just yesterday, and already it has added a whole new wealth of experience and freedom to my life. Earlier today, I was able to go down by the river; to experience nature outside of the immediate vicinity of a parking lot for the first time in years. I cannot remember the last time I was able to sit under a star-filled sky and listen to the sound of nighttime all around and in harmony with the gentle rush of waves against the shore. It was as though a part of me could breathe again.
Yesterday, I was able to explore the mall by my home. I was able to go window shopping on my own, without having to rely on someone being there to push me around on a manual chair, for the first time in years.
Already I have met more of my neighbors, gotten to know more of my neighborhood, and encountered new people. I can go exploring my city more comfortable, while also bringing along what I need to manage my various conditions.
I know that for many people who don’t experience mobility issues, the idea of a wheelchair can sound like a prison, a type of confinement. For me, however, it has meant freedom. A chance to be a part of the outside world again; to exist outside of the admittedly useful, welcoming, and accessible world of the internet – to exist in physical space. I can’t even begin to thank you for this gift.
I want you to know that I will carry Frieda, and you her family, in my heart from now on – reflected in the warmth of the sun against my face. I will smile and remember you and her every time I can feel the wind in my hair.
With Heartfelt Gratitude,