I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: disability is a family issue. But all too often, that means misguided portrayals of disabled kids as “burdens,” the assumption that no family would want a disabled child, and insistence that nondisabled family members always know best. What about all the other ways disability can play out in a family — as a source of empowerment, empathy and togetherness — particularly across generations?
To find out, I talked to Scout, a 22-year-old Māori queer person and aspiring politician living in New Zealand, who had this to say about love:
The first person that would pop into my mind is my great-Nana. She’s 93 (nearly 94), she has dementia and she lives in a secure dementia ward in a rest home that’s airy and bright and just like when she used to live with us. She’s been this one constant source of love and ginger loaf since I was tiny, and has watched me grow up. Because of the dementia, she’s the only person in my life who I will let call me by my dead name. Which is pretty big for me! Out of all her grandkids and great-grandkids, she remembers me the most often. I love the levels of unconditional love and optimism she spouts every single day. I love her fond stories about her childhood, and I love hearing them for the 14th time in a row, too. I really cherish every moment I have with Nana.
Read on for more about forging a political career while disabled, the importance of interdependence, and some excellent family lore.
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