When asked if I could write an article or similar for this blog I was shown a list of politically correct names and phrases for people with disabilities. On the negative side the somewhat derogatory and unseemly references used in in my lifespan appeared commonplace at the time. In light of this I thought I could relate a personal and emotive story of that time.
In the late seventies my father was a self-employed haulage contractor working for a variety of customers in the oil industry. While working in a pipe yard he was injured in an accident which proved more serious than first expected. The next few weeks saw some improvement and the family were advised that the injuries could render him paralysed from the neck down. “Quadriplegic” was a word I had never heard and only ever saw it written down. But we grew to accept the situation. With the correct care and adaptions to the house everything would be done to ensure Dad’s life would be comfortable as expected.
Unfortunately, none were ever required or put in place as complications set in and he passed away about six weeks later.
I now find myself considering the point about labels in use around that time and, had he lived, the nature of people could have led to even stronger terms being used. The selfish part of me would have no problem describing him as a quadriplegic in his absence but would be afraid to do so in his company.
As some might guess, I spent a lot of time in my younger years with my dad and unfortunately inherited the same traits. I would spend countless Saturdays and holidays away in his truck for two reasons: I thought it was great and my mother was glad to see the back of me for a day. One particular by-product was the strange and somewhat scary vernacular used. It seemed each and every person we passed or met on route had a nickname or nom-de-plume linked to some incapacity or health issue. The irony is most were due to injuries sustained in road accidents and what would be classed as work-related injury in what were less-forgiving times. In later years I found this work banter was acceptable but found myself the victim of similar treatment. I still find myself using quotes from that time but have grown old and grumpy without any need to resort to the terms strewn about by the most ignorant of people in the present day.
After nearly forty years I can say this was a very sad time for myself and my family, maybe laying it out for all to see might upset some and help others
No Terms or Conditions
James B Will
June 1936 to December 1978