Sunday isn't meant for chores. Sensing the waning days of autumn at its finest, we decided to take a scenic drive.
On a whim, we set off for Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, where the water meets the mountains in a spectacular display of natural beauty.
Built in the 1700's, this tiny town was not meant to accommodate the handicapped. With that in mind, I set off with some good, solid walking shoes, a trusty cane, and a patient husband.
The air was cool and crisp; the ground was covered in leaves that crackled and danced as we walked. Harper’s Ferry, rich in civil war era history, brings the past to life, however briefly. This had the makings of a perfect day and, indeed, it was.
The landscape is rocky and the extra-narrow sidewalks are paved with uneven brick. Stairs, stairs everywhere, irregular and steep. No elevators or escalators. The “wide berth” I usually require was impossible, and people generally had to squeeze by each other sideways.
Fortunately for me, people were enjoying the afternoon at a leisurely pace. Young families, straining to push strollers, got me to wondering if people in wheelchairs ever visited here.
The calming, but awe-inspiring effect soon sparked my imagination, bringing the past and the present together. I envisioned folks from the 1700's and 1800's milling about among us. Life was not easy then, and only the fittest survived.
Had I been a resident here in a previous era, it would have been all but impossible for me to navigate the town, especially in the clothing of the day. I imagined myself, in my little pointy boots, long skirts, and a corset, perhaps, attempting to stroll the streets, or enter buildings through narrow walkways and uneven stairs.
What was life like in those days, for people with chronic illness?
Multiple sclerosis, still difficult to diagnose today, was often overlooked. How confusing and discouraging it must have been, to experience relapsing and remitting symptoms of MS, yet have no diagnosis or support system. How they must have agonized over the state of their physical health and emotional well being.
I'm very grateful to live in the present day. Our access to information and resources; and our ability to move about, are extraordinary. With all the challenges we face, we have so many advantages our predecessors never dared to imagine!
We were reminded of our good fortune, and for a few hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we were part of something much greater than ouvselves. The inspirational mountain views did their part to put the world in perspective.
“Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growin' like a breeze. “
Take Me Home, Country Roads
-- John Denver, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert
Published On: November 13, 2008