I’ve only just realised that my Dad is handicapped! That sounds like a bloody stupid thing to say, doesn’t it?  It is, however, alarmingly true.  Sometimes we just don’t see what’s in front of us as unusual, if that’s how they’ve always been.

My dad is almost 72. Like Clive James, he says “The Second World War was the other big event of 1939”.  When he was 14, his first job was behind the meat counter at Lewis’s Department Store in Glasgow.  One day, when instructed to clean the meat slicer, he got his overall caught, and managed to slice off the back of his left hand, through the tendons and right down to the bone.  Just think of the mess this would have caused.  Once hospitalised, they managed to insert steel pins which held his fingers in a curved shape for gripping, and luckily his thumb wasn’t affected.  This was then covered with a clumsy skin graft, in keeping with medical care of the time.  All of this was traumatic enough, but all the more serious for a teenager, as he was left-handed, and then had to re-learn to do everything with his right.

Now obviously he must have had a very hard time indeed learning to cope with this, but this was also a time when there were many people from the previous generation still nursing wartime injuries.  By the time I first discussed his injury with him, it was merely an inconvenience, and didn’t seem like any kind of hindrance.  He’s lived with this his entire adult life, and I have never once heard a word of complaint or annoyance about it.  It’s just the way it is.  Which of course makes me feel all the more guilty for moaning about my present temporary injury, which simply doesn’t bear comparison.

They say these things give us a new perspective on things, and it’s true.  So many people are deprived of the full list of faculties that most of us take for granted.  They neither want nor expect pity or special treatment.  However, a bit of consideration never goes amiss.  I’ll stop moaning now.

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Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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