An Outing at the Museum


For a time I imagined I would become a professional artist.  The first time I realized I had any artistic ability was in first grade when my impressed classmates asked, “Did you draw that?”

I had a personal tutor — my dad.  As long as I didn’t waste his materials, always asked permission first, and he wasn’t at the drawing table; I was allowed to sit in his tall swivel chair and create to my heart’s content.  All of his books were available for study so I would spend hours recreating facial features, Disney characters, Mad magazine cartoons, eventually moving on to photographs for portraits or still-life compositions.

So maybe you can understand why I was so excited to see the collection of The Impressionists at The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth today.  Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and others all in one collection on loan from The Art Institute of Chicago.  A feast for the eyes.  Many masterful works by famous genuises.

I don’t do these things very much anymore.  It’s not an easy task, but the ladies wanted me to attend so they made sure a wheelchair was available.  I have only used a wheelchair on two other occassions: to enjoy the Dallas Arboretum a few years ago and to get around Lowe’s on a recent home improvement venture.  Both times were a bit of a fiasco. 

At the Arboretum Phat decided to follow the kids down a gravel path, so he parked me in a good spot and off he went.  It was a lovely day and I was quite thankful to have an available seat to enjoy the view . . . until the water sprinklers kicked on.  I was startled!  Jumped up.  Moved myself and the wheelchair out of range, and settled once again to observe the park.  But instead, I noticed people were observing me.  😯 

The second incident wasn’t nearly as wet, but I still did notice the stares.  Phat is rather silly and doesn’t mind attention, so having a wheelchair to push and a wife to tease, well . . . let’s just say he can be rather quick down those long aisles at Lowe’s.  And when he gets his speed up, he doesn’t steer very well.  😳 

Today’s outing was much more peaceful and reserved: meandering through an air conditioned building, listening to the audio guide, commenting on our favorite pieces, noticing the artists’ use of color, and thoroughly enjoying eachother’s company . . . wow.  Eating a gourmet lunch and discussing our favorite topic (our common love for the Lord) while drinking rich Maple Pecan coffee was a delightful end to the day’s outing.

However, . . . I still did notice the stares.

Quite a few actually.  But . . . the excursion was worth the mild discomfort from some ill-mannered people wondering about the lady in the wheelchair.

Why do we stare?


12 responses »

  1. Ckroboth sent me over said you had a good post up…

    What is up with people and the starting… I mean come on look at the smile in your picture… That is a thing of beauty. I bet Phat can stare at that smile all day, like Ckroboth loves to stare at his wife’s…

    Anyway… Ckroboth say’s “Love to you”

  2. I am sorry that you had to experience people’s stares.

    Unfortunately, I think our immediate reaction to something we are uncomfortable with or have no idea how to respond to, is starting. Ironic really because I truly believe we want the impression to be quite the contrary.

    Not justifying it at all though. You know if I had been with you I woulda marched right up and been like WADDDAYA lookin at? lol maybe I wouldn’t have been that hostile but I could have been like GOD BLESS YOU for being so concerned about my sister but you can stop looking now.

    I LOVE YOU SIS. I’m so glad you had a good time in spite of the awkwardness. You are beautiful! Fearfully and wonderfully made, remember 🙂

  3. Well, Gch, as much as I appreciate your willingness to speak up for me, I’m not really sure anyone else noticed. I did just smile and say “hi.” I am where God has placed me at this point in time. It will take some getting used to, I’m sure.

    Even before I became disabled I noticed other people staring at the disabled. It’s always been a pet peave of mine. It doesn’t make sense to me in the grand scheme of life…it’s what our mothers were suppose to teach us. “Don’t stare — it’s rude.” So, now that I know the feeling first hand, I get it even more.

    Peoplelurkers…anyone who may be reading!! Please. LISTEN!!

    It’s RUDE to stare. The disabled are people too…EVERY. LAST. ONE. OF. US. The best thing you can do when you pass us on the street, or see us in a restaurant, is smile and say “hi” because…


    And it’s nice to be nice.


  4. Glad to hear you had a lovely outing even though you had to endure people’s stares. I remember my mom’s response once when she was in a shoe store with six children, one of whom has multiple handicaps. If you would put a shoe on my borther’s foot it was his, regardless of whether or not it fit. So when she went to take it off he threw a fit. We always got stares anyway, wherever we went, but this one time, with a woman so obnoxiously staring, my mother turned around and said, “what’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen anyone try on shoes before?” It helps to have sense of humor because you really cannot change how others respond to something different than what they are used to, can you? I get my own brand of staring now that I appear intoxicated (due to my illness) wherever I go. It was good to have the mother I had for practice.

  5. I LOVE that you got to go to an art museum and enjoy yourself so much! That’s fantastic! I am heartily sorry for you feeling uncomfortable.

    Why do people stare? I think there are more than one reason. Some people stare because they have no manners and judgmental hearts. Some people stare because they are simply curious and anything that is different or unique captures their attention. And there is everything in between too, I suppose. It starts with curiosity, I think. Children all stare … but not because they’re judgmental. They stare because they’re curious. So I think it starts there. I try SO hard not to stare. I am a people watcher, though. I love noticing people – what they look like, what they’re feeling, what their world view is, what their life is like. A person who looks, acts, or talks differently than most people captures my attention even more. How is life different for them? Are they limited by their disability? Ashamed? Proud? I wonder these things. I know that the person will never see these things in my curious looks, so I try very hard to act exactly the same way to everyone. I get good practice at this as a server. I can testify though, to what I have seen. I have heard many times from people with disabilites that people don’t look at them the same way as other folks – and in particular, that they won’t look them in the eye. I have waited on the physically impaired, mentally impaired, physically deformed, people with severe skin problems, etc … and the one thing I try very hard to do is to look them in the eye and talk to them just like I would anyone else. Many times I distinctly notice that this causes them, over the course of the meal, to relax in my presence and not act limited or insecure. I love this. It means that I am doing my job, both as a server and as a Christian (not to mention a human being). It doesn’t stop me being curious, though. I always wonder what life is really like for them.

    Love you, sis. I am so happy that you had a (almost entirely) happy day. 🙂

  6. It IS rude to stare! I agree with everyone, it is probably curiosity, like the way people all slow down or stop at the scene of an accident. Everyone wants to know what happened. But it doesn’t matter the reasons, it is rude to stare and I feel that people should apply some self-control and not stare.

    Sounds like a stunning day otherwise Michelle:)

  7. im sorry but its late and i havent read thru all the comments…so someone may have already said this…

    why do we stare?

    honestly, i think when people stare they are pondering “what if that were ME?” we are a very self focused people. and i truly think that is what is on most minds. i know thats what i think when i see someone, say….missing a leg. now…i dont just “stare” but if i see them, i will think first…what if i only had one leg?

  8. It was lovely, Vicki. Yes, I can see that it helps to have a sense of humor. I’ve determined to give them a big smile and hopefully set them at ease. I do know a chip on my shoulder won’t help anything. (I appear drunk when I walk too, it does tend to bring on the stares) Thanks, Vicki, I can always count on you for a humorous way to look at life. 😉

    Good morning, Annie. I expect nothing less than long comments from you — it wouldn’t be normal any other way 😯 😀 Yes, children do tend to stare out of curiousity, that’s understandable. Children’s stares don’t bother me at all, but the adults who should have learned by now that it is rude, well, they need to grow up. Your approach is appreciated. At lunch the hostess looked at my friend to ask about my needs — that was a bit strange. 😕

    Hey, Ripple. It was stunning. Loved the art. Actually, my husband wants to go tomorrow to enjoy it with me. 🙂 The accident or ambulance on the street have always been situations where I haven’t understood people’s responses. I guess it’s a good thing when I had a serious accident a few years ago that I went into blind shock and didn’t see all the stares…now that was a blessing I hadn’t understood before. 😉

    Good morning, Tam. I am sure people are wondering. That’s a normal response. “We are a very self-focused people”…amen. 😦

  9. Hi Michelle, so sorry to hear that people stared and that you were made to feel uncomfortable. I loved hearing about your day at the museum, absorbing the beautiful art, enjoying each other’s company, even down to the Maple pecan coffee – sounds amazing! The other thing I loved was the story you told of when you were a little girl sitting on your Dad’s swivel chair and creating to your “heart’s content” – beautiful memory! What a blessing to be an artist! Love you.

  10. You know Birgit, it did end up being about the stares, but I really meant for it to be about the lovely day. However, I do wish people would realize what they are doing and how it feels on the other end.

    It was a wonderful day and the coffee was AMAZING!!

    Love you and God bless!

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