I remember a long time ago, sitting in a room full of disability activists who were much older and more experienced than me. One man, Gary McPherson, sat in his chair with the respectful, almost invisible, seamless help of his personal assistant who quietly hovered behind him. I hadn't noticed the hum of his respirator till Gary began to speak, his short phrases punctuated by a crackly intake of breath. "The thing is", he said, "we are all sitting around here talking about big ideas like nurturing leadership in our disabled youth population and whether we should lobby for more disability arts initiatives. What I think we should talk about is whether in ten years time, there will be anyone around to wipe our bums. I believe we are heading toward a time when giving care will be devalued and we will all end up being warehoused in institutions with lousy care and no one will notice."
I think it was that day when I began to think about care for my son and my parents as being one subject. I began to think that maybe childcare for my daughter was part of that conversation too. I think Gary is right, we ARE in danger of being short on care, caregivers and caring about care. The more we talk in silos of disability vs eldercare vs childcare with a myriad of divisions within those categories, the more we shoot ourselves in the foot as a movement (forgive the metaphor all you readers with mobility challenges, but you know what I mean).
So, just to clarify, here on my blog as well as my Facebook Page, I talk about disability because my son Nicholas is a young man with multiple physical impairments. I talk about eldercare because my mother is 90. I talk about adult onset handicaps because my father suffered three debilitating strokes at the age of 52. I talk about absorbing the care of children into our lives because I am a mother of two. I talk about women, leadership and balancing our caregiving responsibilities because I am an author and an activist.
And I put these subjects together in one blog and one Facebook Page because I think we need to think like a movement if we are to achieve political and social change for the good of our families and our future.