It is funny how your life and beliefs were influenced at a younger age and yet you didn’t realize it then. Many know that my relationship with my boyfriend’s Aunt Renee was my first real experience with someone with disabilities. When the family situation occurred and there was a need for me to hang out with her and take her places I was nervous. We had never shared more than a few passing words. But there was a connection, a kinship we developed. Over the years I have had plenty of interactions with the population and my life is so much more rewarding for it.
So today when I caught an old familiar TV show ‘The Facts of Life’ I smiled because the episode that was airing was where my first real understanding that people are different and yet they are not. It was the episode with Cousin Geri. Many may not recall it but I remember my first experience watching Cousin Geri, the first person with a disability to have a regular role on TV. It was not the ‘norm’ and yet I found her funny, refreshing and entertaining. And quickly she was just another character not someone with a disability.
I now wonder if that show at such a young age (no I wasn’t that young) helped me to better understand and accept Renee. The funny thing in a world where people are classified as ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ I think she is more normal than me.