I saw a man who has ALS today.
I had never met him before and likely never will see him again, but over the course of 15 seconds I felt a personal connection with him.
This man reminded me of my dad.
I was walking into 12 Oaks Mall through Sears where our paths crossed. This man was with who I presume is his wife. He was around 55 years old and wore a t-shirt and some shorts that one would wear while painting a room. The electric scooter he was traveling in was the exact same one that my dad used, right down to the control panel. He wore glasses and fairly plain tennis shoes, with the laces barely tied to make them easier to get on and off.
I did not need to ask if he had ALS because I know what it looks like. I saw his elbow bent in a 90 degree angle allowing the palm of his hand to work the joystick controlling his scooter. His neckline was thin and his legs looked like they had lost a large amount of mass, similar to my dad’s.
As we both approached the door, I held it open for him and he said, “Thank you, you know, sometimes these doors for wheelchairs don’t always open on their own.” And then he made his way through the door while his wife also said thank you. This was something I could see my dad saying.
I let them advance a little bit further before I stopped and almost lost it. It has been just over a year since my dad passed away, and this was one of my first interactions with someone who has Lou Gehrig’s Disease since then. I have taken about a year off from volunteering with the ALS Association, but something about these 15 seconds of my life today have lit a fire in me once again. I am sick of seeing good people’s lives taken from them by a disease. I’m sick of imagining how other people deal with the same experiences I went through, knowing I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. It’s time to change lives.