The Old Man (affectionate term for my father) was invited to his first amputee picnic, so you know what that means. We were going no matter what! It was at the local VA Hospital, which has an amputee support group. The Old Man hasn’t had a chance to attend the group sessions yet, but he will in due time.
It was great to see the staff from the hospital setting up grills and such to get this picnic going. As I sat there and looked around, you see different amputee levels and I was looking at The Old Man watching each person that came up and assessing what level they might be. It was like a cool networking event. Everyone was a veteran so they all had that in common, which was an easy ice breaker.
I enjoyed watching The Old Man speak to everyone and watched as he said he was a little “jealous”, that some of them were walking without “anything”(meaning, walking with no walkers, canes or anything else to hold them up). However, he also talked to the gentlemen in the wheelchairs that had just had their surgeries maybe a month or two ago and he was able to identify with them as he remembered how it was in the beginning. As I looked at his face while talking, I was very pleased knowing that he fell right in with all of them. There was even a highlight when some of the amputees came over and were talking about the different legs that they had and said that his was impressive. I know that made him feel good, which was a goal of this outing.
I told him that it didn’t matter what level everyone else was on, he has been an amputee for less than a year and is already in a leg that has a microprocessor in it and it is going to help him walk really well, just like these other guys and gals.
He smiled and was like, ” I am ready.”
He smiled and said, “I am ready , to be like them.” I looked at him and said you will get there, just learn what you are supposed to and take your time. You will be doing what they can do in no time.
This picnic had some interesting highlights for me:
- AT the VA, much like on a military base “TAPS”, plays at sunset, or the time the sun is supposed to set. It was like all of these veterans had a quick flash back, but it was nice to see all of them at attention until the song was finished. It was a moment that instantly unified them all, no matter if you were an amputee or staff, as veterans all of them stood at attention.
- There was definitely some humor amongst all of the amputees, when the food was finished cooking, someone yelled out “Ok, all of the wheelchairs go first”, then everyone started laughing, it was cool to see everyone with a great sense of humor.
- There was a little talk about the Veteran Games, and how there is a competition amongst Vets. (I am going to have to look that up, the Old Man used to be athletic)
- Met one of the first Vets to have a leg with a microprocessor in it. (So, I am sure that you are wondering what this means. It is a leg that has a computer chip in the knee and battery that has to be charged, much like a cell phone. It is a piece on the leg that allows for better control and it also prevents a lot of falls, due to “thinking technology”, which allows the leg to kinda stop you before you are going down to fall.) It was cool to hear her talk about the different legs that she has and how she uses each one especially the “sport legs” for surfing, sailing, and all. So talking to the Old Man, he perked up when she was speaking to him talking about all the things that she can do as an amputee. He simply said to her “I want to be like you!” with a look of admiration on his face. Then we found out she has been an amputee for about 25 years so she has had tons of practice.
- One of my favorite moments was when he was talking and was standing there in his spot straight up not holding on to anything. One of the other vets came by and said “Look Ma, No Hands”. I was sitting in amazement that he was just standing there and I was like, oh I need a photo of this, so I snapped one quickly.
So, in all today’s picnic was a hit. Even after watching all of these guys and gals he was even walking better to the car. I told him, hanging out with other amputees would be good, but I could also tell that he really wanted to be where they were and was pushing himself today. The upside is there is nothing wrong with having drive and today gave The Old Man some extra pep and something to look forward to, if he keeps practicing. Today was a great experience.
*Note: When I am at these events with The Old Man, I try to only get pics of him and not the others, just to be respectful. Maybe one day others will give permission to take pics with him. 🙂