“What happened?” Hannah’s carer asked as she stared aghast at the pile of soiled clothes and bedding on the floor. They’d been rinsed out, but with endless rain all weekend they had just been rolled up and stowed in plastic bags to send home.
“The man with the guitar locked me in my room all night, and wouldn’t let me out,” Hannah said.
Hannah smiled at her. “And I carried the lady’s leg around the room to show everybody,” she said.
“What!” Were they a bunch of incompetents running this camp? Whatever were they thinking? And how could you carry a lady’s leg around? Sounds like a right shambles.
“I sang a love song to Geoff in the concert.” Hannah was eager to give all the news of camp to her carer. She loved these annual camps at the Happy Meadows Camp with her friends.
* * * *
It had seemed like a good idea when they got to camp. With not many folks staying overnight, the ladies could each have a room to themselves. Hannah put her mountain of bedding on the lower bunk and joined the others in the activity room. The relentless rain pounded on the roof, but she knew she would be cosy overnight.
Patty, the camp nurse, was joining this group for the first time. She had bravely answered the call for help in her church newsletter. She was not unfamiliar with various disabilities, but it would take time to get to know these individuals whom she’d never met before. She stowed their medications carefully on the top bunk in her cabin.
By morning Patty was in a deep sleep. She was woken by Jenny knocking on her door.
“I need your help,” Jenny said. “I just went to see Hannah, and she is in such a mess. I don’t know what happened.”
The ‘mess’ comment was an understatement. It took the two helpers half an hour in the shower to get her clean. Patty took her nightclothes and bedding to the laundry. Hannah kept smiling. She didn’t usually get this much attention.
Jenny had flown in to be camp speaker. She had her talks ready, but when she arrived and found attendance would be smaller than she thought, she wondered – what have I done? Was it worth all this trouble to get here? Do they really want to know what I have to say?
Jenny spoke about the importance of not saying ‘I can’t’. “As people with disabilities we just need to work out a different way of doing things,” she said, “so that we can say ‘I can’” She demonstrated how to fold a sweatshirt and place it in its plastic bag within one minute, the job she had learned to do with the use of only one arm when working in a clothing factory. She sat on a chair and took off her prosthetic leg. Hannah grabbed it. Grinning, she handed it around; a plastic leg with a tidy sock and shoe on the end! Jenny demonstrated how she put it on again.
Through the afternoon everybody asked Jenny more questions about her life and about God. Jenny was glad to be there. The evening concert was brilliant, and Sam the boss played his guitar while Hannah sang her song to her special friend, Geoff, who had come out for the day.
* * * *
Hannah’s carer rang Sam the boss.
“What’s this about Hannah being locked all night in her room?” she demanded.
“Hannah was locked out,” Sam said, “not in.”
“She says she was locked in which is why she couldn’t get to the toilet when needed. And what’s this about a lady’s leg?”
Sam had a bit of explaining to do. He told the carer about the leg. He explained Saturday night when he’d had to take people back to town, forgetting he had the keys to two rooms in his pocket. It was eleven pm when he got back. He told her how Hannah’s door was not locked the first night, but very stiff, and it seems she thought it was locked. They had someone sleep with her the second night.
The carer laughed.
“It sounded like a right shambles,” she said. “But I see reasons for everything now. And Hannah really enjoyed it; she’s already talking about next year.”
(All names changed)
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