Sarah is a nice, quiet middle-aged woman, smiling and friendly, but when I asked her how old her children are, she paused. Her eyes looked to the side. She closed her mouth and wrinkled her brow.
"Some days I just can't remember," she said finally. "I have a degree from Weber State University, but I can't remember what I studied."
This is what happens when your head gets bumped too hard too many times in your younger years. Don't worry, I'm not going to nag you again about wearing a bicycle helmet.
An iffy brain is only one of the problems this 42-year-old woman has. She broke an ankle and ended up having it fused. She gets vertigo. She has trouble concentrating. Some days she can't even walk.
Her multiple issues cost her a job and marriage and left her in a spare mobile home in Roy seeking help with basic household repairs from Your Community Connection.
I was visiting her with Tim Geilman, YCC's traveling handyman, whom you met in this space Sunday. Tim is a retired U.S. Marine (Semper Fi!) who is infinitely patient as he listens to his clients' complaints about dead light bulbs, squeaky doors and balky furnace filters. He handles those repairs with complete professionalism.
It's easy to ask why people like Sarah don't just get a child or neighbor to do those chores. Many do, but such thoughts leave out a huge consideration for people like Sarah: dignity.
Family and friends have busy lives and time limits. Constantly asking them for help is a reminder that you are in need. Nobody likes to be a burden.
Plus, kids take a while to visit, neighbors forget. Tim is a professional with work orders and schedules. Customers call, he shows up, everyone is happy.
As Tim replaced Sarah's sink, I visited with her. She described her fears that society pigeonholes people like her, insisted she is not just another helpless person, and ended with a plea that, really, she's no different.
"I used to be angry, really angry. But now I try to find something useful to do every day. I do the dishes, just something to do.
"If you're disabled, people treat you like you lost your usefulness, like you're dead." She nodded toward where Tim was working. "These people treat you like you matter. It's nice.
"I got a little old lady neighbor who said, 'I can't weed my yard, I can't walk.' So I said, 'You can sit, can't you? Do what I do.' Because of my leg and my balance I can't stand either, so I skosh around on my butt. You do a little bit at a time, it's amazing what you can do.
"I can still plant flowers in my yard, and I try to crochet (she donates crocheted items to YCC). I'm trying to learn to sew. You can handle anything if you break it down to one bit at a time."
People need to work within their limits, she said.
"It's just the way it is. I'm not going to sit like some zombie in a chair. I do what I can. It takes me about a week to weed my yard.
"The only thing that bothers me is, when people see you on your bad days, they think that's all you have. People see a disabled person, and it's like a cloud, it's almost like a stereotype.
"There's a lot of people who are disabled who do amazing things. I'm disabled. But that's not who I am.