Sally Ann Shurmur: Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) And The ADA

Columnist Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "Mom was really, really slow on the walker, and yet we went. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have tried to be more patient, more understanding, more loving."

Sally Ann Shurmur

February 23, 20244 min read

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It was just three little photos. A new retail space invited folks to come check out the cozy loft, perfect for book club, baby showers or girlfriend meet-ups.

There are crocheted afghans on velvet chairs, a yummy rug on the floor, bright art on the walls and table lamps offering plenty of light.

“Do the stairs have two hand rails?” I asked.

“No,” was the immediate reply.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing when I can’t walk without two canes or preferably, one of three walkers.

Yes, I have “been to the doctor.” Delayed by my own stubbornness far too long but done. PLEASE stop asking.

My favorite place on earth in March is Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where my parents built their weekend fishing house in the mid 1980’s.

Every year thereafter, we spent Spring Break with them there.

I dream of coffee on the patio and the distinctive clatter of the now 40-year-old palm trees in the wind.

There is no Spring Break at all in this place I find myself now, and the school bus driver refuses to ask for time off.

So until I am mended, traveling alone is off the table.

When last we attended a book sale in the basement of the Natrona County Library, Owen pushed me in the walker closest to a wheelchair. It really isn’t, but I can sit facing forward and it’s foldable enough for the car.

So up the rickety wooden ramp we went. It is barely wide enough for the wheels.

And coming down, the angle is such that even seated, I hung on to the railing for dear life.

Thus followed a letter to the library director, who thanked me profusely and urged me to attend a county commission meeting to speak on the critical need for a new library.

They meet at 5:30 p.m. on a school day so that won’t be happening, but I can write letters all day.

The library is not in compliance with the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990.

In my own town, the historic hotel has a darling bar and great Mexican food. To avoid two half-sets of stairs, there is a ramp leading from the sidewalk to a side door. It is literally a sheet of weathered plywood, splintered with random holes.

Using the walker on that is an obstacle course even before the Margaritas.

The ADA imposes access required on public accommodation, to include retail stores, service establishments and recreational facilities.

I would just ask business owners to walk around. What if your mom wakes up tomorrow and needs two canes, a walker or a wheelchair? Would she be able to come see you?

Would she be able to get to the cozy loft?

Or the book sale in the basement?

Or have a Margarita?

Lately, I have become an expert on “better senior living” aids. My post office box overflows with catalogs.

My two favorite things are a sock puller, which my physical therapist recommended, and a folding chair.

The sock puller was way too much physics for me at first, but is a dream now. 

And the folding chair allows me to empty the dishwasher, cook at the stovetop and get stuff off the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

I dream of a step-in bathtub, which is way above my budget. And a scooter, which Owen says I would never be able to operate.

I think of our most recent trips to Havasu, when Mom was barely mobile but insisted that our visits were no trouble.

She drove her 40-year-old Dodge Omni with two American flags in the back windows whenever we went out.

She was really, really slow on the walker, and yet we went.

If only I knew then what I know now, I would have tried to be more patient, more understanding, more loving.

Temporary or permanent, let’s all have a little more compassion for those different than us.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur