Mum and I often frequented the city centre of Sheffield in the UK. It’s a great place for shopping and quite accessible. Mum was put in a wheelchair at the age of 33 (I was 5). She was a quad. Mum had lots of reasons to be sad – not just the accident but also that my dad left her the week after she got out of hospital as he said he couldn’t cope. He never came back again. But she never dwelled on sadness. She was resilient and of all the thing she taught me, the one I value most is laughter.
We have been through so many things. Here’s a few: I fainted whilst pushing mum once in a shop. I ended up on the floor and she ended up crashing into a display cabinet which lost its contents! The shop assistants were not amused. Then there was the time Mum’s wheels caught a table cloth which was on display in John Lewis’s, and the whole table of China and crystal came crashing down as we drove past in her electric wheelchair! “Oops” was all we could say (hats off to the assistants – they were kind and laughed). And one time my mum left a shop with a coat hanger with clothes on it, and all the alarms went off! (Yes we took the clothes back). All of these little incidents were constant and we spent our time giggling about them.
The funniest one of all though was when we were sat together and Mum was drinking a can of Coke. This particular day, Mum had been to the hair dressers, we were dressed in our Sunday best as we were out to watch a show at the Crucible theatre no less, so you can imagine we were all dolled up.
I had to leave mum for a minute whilst I bobbed in to a shop. I was gone about 10 minutes and when I got back Mum was in fits of uncontrollable laughter all by herself. She could hardly breath she was laughing so much! There was nothing to do but join in.
Well we laughed solid for ten minutes, tears rolling down our faces. Fancy the laugh was so infectious and I didn’t know what we were laughing at. Eventually we managed to get a grip and I asked mum what on earth had gone on to make her fit to burst with laughter. She was shaking and still laughing as she managed to tell me that whilst I was gone, a lady had walked up to her and shoved a coin in her can of Coke and walked on. Well that was it off again we went laughing.. I am still giggling now just thinking about it.
Clearly the lady was thinking Mum’s can was a collection tin and she was being kind. We didn’t finish the drink but we did fish the coin out, and I still have it to this day.
Just wanted to share my giggle. No matter who you are, where you are, please do have a giggle as laughter makes the world go round.
Thank you to Liz Bell for sharing this glimpse of the laughter she and her mother shared together. Liz’s mother passed away in December 2015, yet Liz continues to be a force in the disability sector. She spent years advocating for her mother’s rights and care in the UK. She now chairs the Barclay’s disability network in Singapore, and says she is “all about helping people see their ability.”