In Features, My Piece of the Sky, Opinion by Diane Standiford

My first cane was named “Horsey.” Oh, don’t laugh, one day you too will name your cane if you haven’t already.

Horsey came into my life by way of the corner drug store. First came stolen glances, then stopping to stare while pretending to buy tissues, followed by a day of actually picking him, yes, him, up and getting the feel of his slick, brown, curved handle in my hand. I just couldn’t stop thinking, “How could something that seems so wrong, feel so right?”

Looking over my shoulder as if the cane was some unsavory item, the store clerk rang up my new cane as if it were just another package of gum. Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal except to me. Could that even be possible?

Horsey, so named due to his abstract hoof shaped tip, and besides who wouldn’t want a horse instead of a cane, old bent over people used canes, strong athletes rode horses; was a folding cane I kept hidden in my work bag until I reached home each day. Once alone he quickly won me over.

We didn’t look so bad in the mirror. He helped me walk easier.

A friendship was sealed. My shame turned to pride. Maybe tomorrow we would show the world! Many tomorrows came and went with Horsey hidden in my bag, before that big day arrived.

During a Diversity Training session at my job my co-workers and I had to take turns using a word to define ourselves based on what kind of diversity group we felt we were in.

Seattle has many diverse cultures and ethnic groups. When my turn came I said, “Newly disabled.” Then I pulled Horsey out of my bag as a show and tell, while explaining that I had MS.

Well, he was a great hit and ever after I took him out with pride whenever needed. People were fascinated by how he opened up with a flip of my wrist.

Once he joined me in a dance during a sunny, Seattle impromptu concert some street musicians held during downtown office lunch breaks. I lacked only a top hat!

After a long day at work I was so happy to arrive home in a taxi that I would hop out and forget to grab my cane. Of course as soon as the cab left it became clear something was missing.

In a panic I called the cab company only to be told that so many cabs were dispatched during that time of day it would be nearly impossible to know which cab had my cane, unless I knew the cab number, sadly I said I didn’t. The nice dispatcher took my name and number and promised to call if a cane was turned in. That call never came.

As hard as I searched, no other folding cane I found was as special as Horsey. He was just the right height, just the right weight, just right for me.

Walking with my ordinary wood cane towards a book store across town six months later a taxi pulled along beside me. The driver rolled down his window and said, “I’ve been looking for you! Did you lose a funny cane?”
“YES,” I shouted.
“I think you left it in my cab one day.”

Lying on the floor in the back seat was Horsey. Of his four joints which folded him, one was crooked. With tears of joy I grabbed him out of the cab and thanked the driver profusely. The driver told me he had been keeping the cane for me and circling the area he thought he had picked me up from almost daily. His kindness overwhelmed me.

As he cab drove off I noticed Horsey was making a strange rattling sound, as if something were inside him. He had scratches not there before and as I unfolded him sand started pouring out. Wherever he had been over the last 6 months he apparently spent some time on a beach.

We are best buddies now. We take on the security guards who stop us when he is in my bag, going through the x-ray machines at some of the buildings on my way to work. I must admit he looks suspicious.

We handled the police officers dispatched to Midas Muffler when I laid Horsey on the cashier counter to get out my money and he accidentally sprang open. The frightened cashier pressed her silent alarm thinking my cane was a weapon.

And we have learned not to flip-action open on a crowded Metro bus.

Who would have thought a cane could add so much assistance and adventure to my life? Giddy-up!

Do you have a name for your cane, scooter, or wheelchair or any other medical aparatus that you can’t live without?
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