One thing I’m learning from this experience is that good intentions of mine don’t always translate into welcome help for someone else.
A case in point: On my way home today, I spotted an elderly man who appeared to have had a stroke, struggling to walk with the aid of one crutch. His left side was mere dead weight and he leaned on the crutch so heavily he listed to the right. He looked a little like he was battling an 80-mile west wind. He took tiny halting steps, dragging his limp left leg mere millimetres at a time. Oh, and on his feet were only flip flops.
I only mention his shoes – if you can call them that – because I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months visiting my mom in an orthopaedic ward and rehab facility where you are constantly reminded of how much pain and suffering can follow a senior’s fall. It pained me to watch this man taking such a risk by struggling up the hill on an uneven sidewalk. I silently chided the nincompoop who let him leave the house without help, or at least proper footwear.
I approached him and quietly asked if he needed my help. (Last thing I wanted to do was spook him and cause his fall myself.) His English was limited and it took a few tries for him to catch on that I was offering to assist him up the street. When he caught on, his eyes widened and his face twisted in anger.
“Help? Help me? Hah! Don’t need help,” he scoffed.
I’m sure he would have swatted me with the crutch if he’d had two good legs under him.
He looked horrified that I’d suggested it and I apologized and slunk away realizing not only had I not helped the man, I just insulted him by suggesting he wasn’t strong enough or capable enough to make his way up the street.
Back to the drawing board, I guess.