Walkers and women

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Vanity, thy name is Sherri.

Shakespeare never wrote that, but then he didn’t write that vanity’s name is “woman” either. He wrote, in “Hamlet,” “Frailty, thy name is woman,” a response to the mother’s marriage to Claudius after the king’s death.

I am both woman and Sherri, and I am feeling very vain and very frail at the moment.

It all has to do with this despicable walker.

I am four-plus weeks post-op, and EVERYONE says I am doing “sooo good.”

I am not feeling it. Not as long as I am pushing this metal monster in front of me.

Don’t get me wrong: This two-wheeled rolling slider allows me to move around the house, to get to and from the car and, when my vanity will allow, to go to a lunch and a happy hour with friends. I feel more stable with it and am happy to have it, UNTIL it’s time to get it out of the car and see people I know.

Graeme and Joel, my physical therapists, are helping me transition to a cane, which I find much more elegant and acceptable. I was more than ready for those first teetering steps, determined to push through and leave the walker in the dust, despite their warnings that it would be slow going. The pain isn’t bad. The healing is going nicely. The will is determined.

I pick up the cane and start out for a trot around the PT room, brushing aside Graeme’s steadying hand. He still takes every step with me. After 10, I reach for his hand, feeling I may crumple.

Well, maybe next week …

The aforementioned lunch was one I was not going to miss, walker notwithstanding. It was at noon at Bravo! on a Friday, and the effort I expended worrying about standing out with my walker was misplaced.

By the time the lunch was over, the front wall at Bravo! was a sea of walkers! I was happy the therapist had insisted I put my name on mine, or I’m not sure I could have picked it out.

Why so many? I think it is because Bravo! at lunch on Friday is a gathering place for groups of female friends who are eager to catch up and strengthen ties. Vanity isn’t as strong as our need to come together.

As I looked around the room I saw vibrant, interesting women who want to fix whatever’s ailing us when we can and resume an active life. In addition to the walkers, there were some wheelchairs, which would have been me a couple of weeks ago. There were some canes. And there were those who walked effortlessly into the room.

Turns out it didn’t matter how we got there. Even as bills were being paid, no one at our table was ready to leave. Mates at other tables lingered, too, catching up on that last bit of news about children, grandchildren, travels, work joys and woes.

The happy hour gathering was four days later. I walked in with my cane, then went home and put ice on my leg for half an hour to ease the pain caused by pure vanity.

Still, Hamlet had it all wrong with either translation. Perseverance, thy name is woman.”

Sherri Gardner Howell, a former features writer and manager at the News Sentinel and publisher at Blount Today, has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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