Remember your first back-to-school shopping trip? Was it a fun experience? You might be shocked to learn that Mom never took me to buy school supplies until I was in grade 8. In the following excerpt from my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I explain why.
At almost fourteen years of age, I had never been shopping for school supplies. Mom, my sisters, and I went to the city one afternoon to buy what we needed. I felt overwhelmed with the choices of pencils, notebooks, rulers, and other items which I would require now that the B.C. government no longer supplied them for me.
Then an incident happened which caused me grave concerns regarding my future. Mom led us around a wealthy neighbourhood to pass the time until our bus left for home. The sun beat down from a cloudless sky as we strolled along the sweltering sidewalk.
"Can we stop and rest?" I pleaded, "I feel so hot and tired.
"Just keep walking," Mom said. "Look at those lovely houses! Your friend Randy lives in one of these."
As we waited to board the Greyhound bus that evening, a wave of extreme vertigo swept over me. I staggered and tried to catch my balance. The depot began to grow dark. I saw what appeared to be ashes floating in the air. Then I tripped over a suitcase and ended up kneeling on the cement.
"What's the matter, huh! Huh!" Mom badgered as I desperately wished I could lie down. Passengers around me stared and some shouted suggestions. A security guard came over and helped me to my feet.
"We better take him into the office," he said.
"I feel sick," I said as I sat in a swivel chair. A guard fetched a garbage can. I promptly vomited into it. Then I leaned back, trying to make the remaining dizziness go away.
"I guess we'll have to take a cab home," Mom admitted as our bus pulled out of the lane. "May I borrow your phone?" The guard handed Mom the receiver and she dialled a taxi company.
I headed straight for my bed when we arrived home. As I lay listening to the radio, Mom marched into the room.
"Why the hell did you have to pull a stupid stunt like that for?" she blasted. "You cost me nine dollars, you know that?" As she ranted on, my heart sank. It was not my fault I became ill. In addition, I did warn Mom that I felt hot and tired.
Today's North American disabled children are commonly educated in local public schools, at home, or in nearby special schools. Half a century ago, kids such as I were shipped off to distant institutions for months at a stretch. Please visit my page to learn more about this unfortunate page in Canadian history. You're welcome to follow the progress of my next memoir, How I Was Razed (and How I found Authentic Christianity), on Twitter.