I pull up to the guard gate of the nursing home to visit my Mom, who is there recovering from three broken ribs incurred in a fall. I hand my driver's license to the on duty guard, whom I have seen during many of my previous visits. We greet each other and as she hands me back my license along with daily parking pass and stick on name badge, she says: "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" "Not at all... ask away." "Is that wheelchair yours?" indicating the mobility scooter behind the driver's seat of my van. "Yes, it is." "I've seen it all the times you've come here and didn't want to say anything inappropriate." "It's fine," I say, "I'm glad you asked." I tell her that my need for it is from my rare genetic condition, Adult Polyglucosan Body Disease (APBD) that has rendered me, at this current stage of its progression, as paraplegic. "Looking at you from here, I could never tell -- I thought maybe it was for your mother."
She gives me my parking pass and name badge and I go and park. But then, in my scooter, I ride back to the guard gate to show her me in the scooter, "Here I am," I say. We continue our conversation, and I roll back a couple of times for incoming cars. I tell her about my "Real Open Carry" program of bringing cameras and photography mentoring to at risk youth as an alternative, positive pathway to guns and violence. She likes this and offers to help. I give her my card and invite her to stay in touch. I say "I know you know my name from all the times I've give you my ID, but what is your name?" "Linda," she says. "You know what that means in Spanish and Portuguese?" "Pretty" she says, smiling, at once humble and proud.
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