I’ve always been a pretty independent person. Some of my friends say I’m a Type A.

So, learning to ask for help and accept help runs counterclockwise to my psyche.

But the time comes, unless we die young, when we have to give in and accept a proffered hand.

And that’s what inspired this dissertation.

People who are helpful, which is almost everybody, probably need to learn how to help the best. It has been my experience that many of them don’t know.

If you see me teetering on the brink of losing my balance or trying to execute some steps, most of you will reach out and grab me.

And it is much, much, much better if you stick out a wing (like your arm) and let me grab you.

I don’t know why, but grabbing somebody, or something, just works better.

If I’m standing in the middle of an empty room, I will get to a wall or a piece of furniture as soon as possible. Standing still in an emptiness is very hard.

I probably need to learn to carry a cane. Men with canes looking debonair, I think, but women with canes not so much. I’m not mentally ready.

I hate curbs, and they are everywhere. If I have to climb down a fairly low curb to get into my car, I hold on to the car.

The curb at the pharmacy is way too high. There is a post planted in front of the parking space and I grab hold of it to pull myself up. I imagine the folks in the pharmacy who see me coming think this is strange. I have ceased to care.

I guess if I start using a cane, I will gradually graduate to a walker, which so many friends are using.

If I get one, I’m going to insist that it be tall enough so I can stand upright and see where I’m going. So many folks are walking all slumped over, looking at the ground. It’s a little humbling.

I don’t think the folks who make walkers have thought much about what their customers look like while traveling down the street.

I, however, do a lot of looking at the ground because everything down there is ready to trip me if I’m not careful. So it’s a lose-lose situation.

One of the things that could be a problem isn’t one, if you plan things right. That’s shopping.

If you have a handicapped placard or plate, drive around the parking lot until somebody opens up a spot for you. Park behind the old man loading groceries and wait to jump into his spot.

Try to grab his abandoned cart, because you need that to get into the store under your own steam.

If you’re smarter than I am, you can use one of the motorized carts. I will personally stay away from them, because, after one try, I have realized I’m a menace.

The pushcart will get you into the store and all the way through all the lanes. I hope you get a good one, with wheels that all go forward together, like a good team.

Here’s hoping we’re all moving forward through the days to come.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at cathy.gillentine@comcast.net.

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(4) comments

Ron Shelby

My dad liked the push carts because it forced him to have his required exercise to keep him moving.

Bailey Jones

When my parents reached a certain age and started carrying canes - those awful ones that they sell in medical supply catalogs, I went online and found a company that sold fashionable canes - different styles, different materials and finishes, etc. And they came in custom lengths. Two very nice canes were my parents' Christmas present that year. They loved them and carried them everywhere. My mom loved the compliments she received on hers - a maple wood cane with a sort of tortoise shell handle (ergonomically designed for an easy grip) and monogrammed with her initials. I still have it, hanging on my fireplace mantel. My dad liked his so much we buried him with it. When life gives you lemons - make it fashion.

Michael Jozwiak

Woman, if you need a cane, as I do, please do it with some style. Shop at the various antique stores here on the island or just across the causeway. Please avoid Walgreen's or CVS for those metal sticks with a handle. I have a small collection and the one I use has an eagle for a handle. Another has a silver ram's horn, another looking more like a twisted Irish cane, and I even have one with a sword inside the handle. Get some style and feel good using it!

Bailey Jones

I have my dad's sword cane - it's more ornamental than useful, though.

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