I read last night about the death of Jill Kinmont Boothe, who acquired quadriplegia as a result of a skiing accident.
She was featured in several movies, including The Other Side of the Mountain. I remember the potato chip scene, as I refer to it with friends, where Jill is in the rehab center after a skiing accident and her boyfriend, who is also a skier, comes to visit her. He expects her to be able to walk, so when she shows him the progress she made ( which is being able to grasp potato chips out of a bowl), he leaves her. I've had a few potato chips scenes in my life too.
I've always admired her for her persistence, years ago prior to the American with Disabilities Act, in seeking an education and employment. It wasn't easy. She typed papers out on typewriters with a typing stick, letter by letter. She lost her fiancé and a childhood boyfriend shortly after her accident. Despite this, she was determined to be productive and to become a teacher.
Colleges turned her down. When she did get a degree, school districts refused to hire her as a teacher.
I remember her words toward a school district physician who spoke about the tragedy of her disability. Her response was that "the only tragedy is if you won't hire me because of this injury".
She was right. People mix up cause and effect with disabilities all the time. They tell us that we can't do things and then offer sympathy for a "wasted life". I say they can keep their sympathy. It rings false and most people with disabilities would rather have a chance to prove themselves. I can't speak for everyone with a disability, but that's how I feel.
Jill passed away in her 70s after a long and productive life.
I thank Jill for breaking barriers before me.