It’s a simple task. Many of us do it every day without thinking twice. Hanging up our clothes on a washing line with clothespins and later removing them. The action is simple – press and release to hang the clothes and press and release to remove the clothes.
I watch Junior attempt this task while he sits on Ghazal. The clothespin is clipped low on the numnah and Junior’s task is to reach down and release the pin and then clip it on the other side of the numnah. It makes me think of my own fingers, how I use them without thinking about them, how, for example, I spend hours of my day typing almost as fast as my brain can form words.
Junior has CP and he is a small figure hunched on Ghazal. His arms are thin. He doesn’t speak. So I don’t know if he can speak but just doesn’t want to, or if he doesn’t understand me. I try to read his face, but it is mostly expressionless, though his eyes dart around to watch Jill and the others.
Jill asks everyone to hug their ponies. Junior bends down slowly and I help him stretch his arms long around Ghazal’s neck. And then Junior smiles, a slow smile as though he knows a big secret. And I think, yes, Junior understands perfectly what is going on.
As Junior reaches down to the clothespin, I restrain myself from moving it closer to his fingers, from unclipping it and giving it to him, from misguidedly attempting to make his life less difficult. His fingers finally feel the pin and start to move around it, trying to find his grip. I can’t see how he is ever going to unclip the pin, his fingers are at an odd angle, an angle where he would, in my opinion, have had no purchase. I wait, still not helping. I don’t think he can do this.
But he does. Even with the funny angle in which his hand is positioned, Junior manages to unclip the pin and move it to the other side of Ghazal. I can’t see what he does with his fingers but he reaches down and then I see Evans, the other sidewalker who is supporting Junior’s back, suddenly smile and we all cheer.
It is a simple task, unclipping a clothespin and re-clipping it. And it is perhaps a very small moment in a lifetime of challenges. But our cheers were real because nothing about that moment felt simple or small. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Volunteers on Wednesday
- Debbie Paul
- Kelly Paul
- Tracy May
- Emil Kee-Tui
- Tiffanie Rhodie
- Joan Darlow
- Stella Allberry
- Cynthia Louw
- Mandy Kehayias