What a Halloween Post Taught Me About Family and Inclusion
I am in my 20s. I’ve been a part of separated and blended families since I was 2 years old. I have one sibling on my mother’s side and another on my father’s side. I have one-of-a-kind best friend relationships with my sibling on my mother’s side, my stepfather and my mother.
I’ve always longed for a strong relationship with my biological father. In my eyes, he’s supposed to be the one I look up to a little more than the rest when it comes to making life choices and starting my own family. No matter how hard I hoped and fought for a relationship growing up, I saw my father maybe once every two years. As I grew older and he came to my side of the world for business, he had many more days he could’ve seen me than he chose to. For many years now he’s been only a 12-hour drive away at most, and I still only hear from him two to three times a year, but don’t see him.
I lost my great-grandparents on my mother’s side last year. My grandparents filled many roles in my life. When I did go see my father at a younger age, I ended up spending most of my time with his mom (my grandma, who is still alive).
After my great-grandparents on my mother’s side passed away, I started wanting to see and build stronger relationships with parts of my family. I didn’t want to miss out on time and have regrets later. During this time of grieving, I also became aware of how different I am in the eyes of society, including the high possibility of disability inaccessibility at my father’s house. I spent many nights full of anger and hatred at myself and my disability because I felt it was all my fault. If I didn’t build a stronger relationship with my father, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins and other family members while they are still alive, it would forever be my fault. Lack of accessibility in homes or cars keeping me from different parts of my family would forever be my fault. Even when people reminded me that it’s up to those who are missing out to make their homes, cars or even time accessible to me, I felt like my disability and inaccessibility would still be my fault.
Today, I came upon a post talking about accessibility when it comes to trick-or-treating on Halloween at people’s homes. One suggestion was for people to buy a portable ramp that can be stored and used when needed. This post made me realize that other people’s unwillingness to make their homes accessible is not my fault. Who you are is not your fault either. Those who are meant to be in your life will do all they can to keep you a part of theirs.
My mother’s side of the family has bought two stairlifts out of pocket in the last two years, so I will forever be welcome in their homes, even when I go off on my own. My mom’s sister rented a beach house with an elevator so I could be a bridesmaid in her wedding.
Some changes don’t have to be very drastic, but they are possible when true love and acceptance are in play. If you don’t know how to help us. Ask. Work with us. I mean an environment and people I’m used to being around constantly is still full of trial and error most days, but we work together.