by Andy Weddington
Friday, 22 January 2016
Every perfect life is a parable invented by God. Simone Weil
Fourteen years ago this month I met Mortimer. He walked like me and you.
Through the years, always this time of year, our acquaintance has been cordial greetings when happening to cross paths on walks.
The past few years Mortimer has not walked like me and you.
Mortimer still walks but with difficulty. He has lost some control of his arms. His slow gait is irregular, jerky, and with lateral wander. His head moves, too.
One seeing but not knowing Mortimer would first conclude an intoxicated stumble.
But that would be a hasty conclusion.
The other day on a walk my wife and I approached Mortimer from the rear - twenty-five to thirty yards between us as we topped and started downhill - recognizing his distinctive figure and unpredictable amble.
Coming abreast to port, I said, "Good morning, Mortimer, how are you today?"
Without beat of pause he replied, "Perfect!"
The exclamation point for upbeat tone and that he absolutely meant it.
Continuing at our brisk pace I remarked to my wife how admirable Mortimer - for his courage to walk daily; encouraging attitude; and determination to just carry on.
Though not knowing Mortimer's diagnosis, it appears he is battling a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia.
No need to detail the particulars of the disease. That it disrupts smooth, coordinated motor movement enough to know.
That whatever the disease has not disrupted Mortimer's attitude, despite its indirect attack, testament to the fight of the human spirit.
It's always struck me interesting and ironic that humans, an imperfect being, created the idea of perfect. And that from imperfect, with apostrophe and a space, we can make the nutty declaration, "I'm perfect."
Mortimer said only "perfect."
Perfect is not a word I use too often. Actually, I try to avoid it. And cannot recall the last time writing nor speaking it.
But as to Mortimer being a profile in courage perfect is the first word that comes to mind.
From him we can all learn - to again appreciate the simple things in life - among them a daily walk and a sunny attitude - to weather any storm; health or otherwise.
Mortimer is an alias but not fiction.